Unlike most of the far-left sports media, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is taking issue with the PGA Tour’s smear campaign against LIV Golf, and particularly Tiger Woods’ recent effort to “rally” support against the upstart tour, calling their actions unAmerican.
“I have a big issue with it, I really, really do,” said Smith during a segment on First Take. “I’m disgusted by it. Let me explain why.
“The United States government, their number two trade partner – from what I’ve read – is Saudi Arabia.
“I thought this was America. I thought we were a capitalistic society. I thought competition breeds our greatness. That’s what I thought!
“Tiger Woods is sitting there acting like the PGA should be the only game in town.
“When do we say that?!”
Smith went on to argue that the PGA Tour’s actions are monopolistic and against the principles of American capitalism.
“You got the PGA banning cats from participating,” Smith continued. “You got Tiger Woods supporting – making players feel like they betrayed the PGA.
“What’s wrong with the PGA!? You the PGA. You work, you produce. You go out there and you earn your money.
“They don’t pay everybody. Winners get paid. Losers don’t necessarily get paid. I don’t know all the particulars and I’m not pretending to. I’m addressing principle. Meaning American principles.
“I’m a black man first – forever and always, and very, very proud of it. But I am a proud American citizen, and I do believe in the American system when it talks about capitalism, when it talks about meritocracy, and handling your business and holding your own. And may the best man (and woman) win.
“So if you’re better than LIV, be better.”
Smith then pointed out the selective outrage of the Tour and its media allies, where governments and “big time corporations” get a pass (for doing business with the Saudis) while individual golfers get libeled and smeared.
“How the hell our government can do business with people and big time corporations can do business with people – another government – but we gonna hold individuals accountable?!,” asked a frustrated Smith.
The ESPN star acknowledged legitimate criticism from 9/11 families, but quickly pivoted to stress the unfair treatment of individual golfers, particularly Phil Mickelson.
“The intensity that you exercise towards golfers who want to compete under the LIV umbrella we need to do the same thing to the government and the corporations,” said an outraged Smith.
“If you ain’t doing it to them (corporations and governments), don’t do it to the individual player. And that includes Phil Mickelson.
“Phil Mickelson’s getting a bad rap out of this.”
Smith’s co-host, Marcus Spears, though, drove home two of the most important notes related to Tiger and his not so virtuous decision to turn down LIV: a.) he can afford to nix the offer, and b.) his entire record-setting legacy is built around the PGA Tour (if it were to fold so would much of Woods’ history).
“I look at this Tiger Woods situation,” said Spears, who played eight seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. “And I’m with you on that because for me with these guys leaving – it’s said that Tiger Woods was offered between $700 and $800 million dollars to join LIV golf. And he didn’t.”
“The thing that I think everybody is missing – and I know what the overall arch and response is going to be, ‘well all of them are paid,’ Tiger Woods is worth over a billion dollars.”
“That’s right. So he can afford to turn that down,” nodded Smith.
Spears continued, “He can afford to say ‘no, I’m not going to leave.’ And, remember, a lot of that wealth that Tiger Woods has attained is because of the PGA.”
Spears also noted that the attacks on LIV Golf, whether manufactured or legitimate, would not be occurring if LIV were not a true threat to the PGA Tour’s monopoly.
“Whatever hill (to attack) you’re on about LIV Golf,” Spears continued. “But it would not be that, if it wasn’t messing with the PGA.
“And here’s what I’ve heard, talking to people. All golfers that have played in the PGA don’t look at it with a great light because of some of the rules and regulations.”
Those “rules and regulations” noted by Spears have nothing to do with ‘Rules of Golf’ either, and everything to do with the rules of career freedom.