Cash rules everything
Between LIV Golf and the changing NCAA landscape, money talked on Thursday and we all had to listen.
PORTLAND — This all just kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
I know that’s not the most eloquent way to start a column, but that’s really just how the sports news cycle feels here in Oregon.
The morning began with a press conference in North Plains hosted by family members of 9/11 victims. They voiced their anger and disgust and utter disdain for LIV Golf, Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course and the 48 golfers who’ve spent the last week dodging from any sort of accountability.
“They’re allowed to have their opinions,” four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said. “You know, we’ve heard it. I think everybody has. It’s been brought up. But, look, like we said, our only job is to go play golf, and that’s all we’re trying to do. We’re trying to grow the game, do all this other stuff. And we’re trying the best we can.”
Keep in mind, not once this week did any of the golfers, some of whom have reportedly received in excess of $100 million to leave the PGA Tour, actually say how these series of exhibition matches will grow the game. Instead, it was just a chorus of players complaining about how hard they work and how they wanted a reprieve from their private jets and lavish banquets to instead spend more time with their families.
“Life does goes on and there’s some things we miss at home,” Koepka said.
Koepka has no kids. Brett Eagleson has no father — his died during the Sept. 11 attacks 21 years ago.
“It’s interesting to see what the money will do and it makes you wonder, where will folks draw that line?” Eagleson said. “How much money will it take so you don’t care about murder or human rights?
“I guess we’ve seen what their price tag is.”
Pumpkin Ridge was once a jewel of Washington County, a course with its place in golf history thanks to Tiger Woods’ win at the 1996 U.S. Amateur. Now it’s just another course, with its reputation and morals sold off to the highest bidder.
But that’s not exactly out of the ordinary these days.
Just a few hours after Eagleson spoke, news broke that USC and UCLA will leave the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten. The Bruins and Trojans eyed the rapidly changing college sports landscape, identified where the money was and made a move.
Surely, the Oregon message boards were going nuts this morning, but don’t you worry about the Ducks. Oregon has money. Oregon has brand. Oregon plays high level football. Will the Ducks follow USC and UCLA? I wouldn’t doubt it, because they can. The Ducks will be bid over.
But do you think Oregon State will be wined and dined? What about Washington State and Cal? What about all those things we’ve been told to care about over the decades? The pageantry, traditions and rivalries? Heck, what about the Rose Bowl? The teams making the moves will tell you in so many words that they don’t matter. The money is too good and their decisions should be beyond reproach.
And that’s what brings me back to the LIV tour and the common refrain by its defenders: You don’t know what you’d do if offered that type of money.
And you know what? You’re right. Since the launch of The I-5 Corridor, I’ve more often than not been a hundredaire. Things have been tight, stress has been high and I can’t say with certainty how I would respond if, say, Saudi Arabia came to me with a chest full of money and a request to change the name to Highway 40.
But if I did take that money, I’d certainly expect criticism. I’d expect questions and accusations of hypocrisy. I’d expect consequences for my actions. I’d expect cause and effect.
But apparently we just live in a world where as long as you get paid enough money, everyone else is just supposed to be fine with it. Money talked, now we’re all being forced to listen.
And, again, that just kinda sucks.
— Tyson Alger
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My beef with these media rights cash grabs is that they don't actually have any use for the money. They're not funneling any of it back to the schools. They aren't paying the players. All of their facilities are as pimped out as they can be. So the only thing they can really do is pay their football coaches $20 million instead of $10 million.
I've been eager for someone to call the SEC's bluff that they'll just peel off and stage their own "national" championship. ESPN would never allow that, though it is perfectly revealing of their mindset: "We're fine not having the maximum amount of money possible, as long as we have more money than everyone else."
Since Oregon's National Championship loss after the 2014 season, I've cared a little less and less each year about football. I don't see any outcome here that reverses that trend (even though, as my in-laws pointed out, as an Illinois resident, I'd actually get to see Oregon more if they joined the B1G.)
What you said, Tyson. It’s all about the money any more. Nothing else seems to matter….and all the rest of us are just supposed to deal with it. But I don’t WANT to deal with it. I want sports for the pageantry and competition, but I guess that doesn’t happen any more. It makes me very sad.