Friday, January 04, 2008

Why the LPGA?

It is very likely that the predominant thought for most people who stumble across this blog is “WTF? Why does this guy care so much about the LPGA?” I was thinking about that the other day and realized I hadn’t tried explaining it before, so here goes.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched sports on TV. My earliest vivid sports memory was Miami losing to Dallas in Super Bowl VI. The 1972 World Series is burned in pretty solid too – Joe Rudi’s leaping catch against the wall, Gene Tenace’s home runs, Rollie Fingers striking out Johnny Bench on a fake intentional walk. The ‘70s and ‘80s were filled with moments from the Big Three sports. Once I discovered Bill James, this new layer of sports fandom - tailor-made for a geek like me - just poured more gas on the fire. Name any statistical analysis sports book written during the 1980s, and it was probably in my library (and it’s probably still there, too).

Fast-forward to 2008. What sports do I watch now? LPGA, college football and the occasional women’s college basketball game. What happened? Well, after thirty-plus years of watching the best athletes in their sport competing for the same championships, testing out the same offensive and defensive philosophies, committing the same mistakes on and off the field, scrambling for (when not demanding) more cash in an increasingly crowded sports marketplace…I just got bored with it. Oh, I can turn on the TV and watch the occasional Braves game or pass the time with a few minutes of an NFL game and I certainly follow what’s going on with those leagues (just ask me about Roger Clemens sometime), but it’s not a daily routine anymore – more like once every week or two.

Why do the three sports entities I mentioned still merit my interest? None of these players are the best in the world at what they do (with the exception of maybe a half-dozen college football players, all of the pros are better than them). If that sounds like a negative statement, it isn’t - they may not be the best players, but they are all a hell of a lot better at playing the game than me and they still have genuine enthusiasm for that game and – maybe most importantly - they don’t have (or at least openly express) an ego approaching the size of Montana. Ok, some college football players fail to meet those criteria but most of them are on teams I despise. The LPGA owns the top rung on my ladder for these reasons:

  • They aren’t the best golfers in the world (the men are, of course) but they are the best women players in the world.
  • The LPGA Tour isn’t the most highly-demanded product in the land (not when they have to pay TV networks to carry some events) so even though it’s golf, the LPGA qualifies as a “niche sport”. Following a “niche sport” avidly is just a cool thing to do.
  • About once a month on average I venture outdoors to attempt my own version of “golf”, so I can somewhat identify with the obstacles these ladies are facing (especially the trees and water).
  • I mentioned a few months back that while I have a Favorite Women Golfers list, I couldn’t even begin to build a Hated Women Golfers list. There is NO other sport about which I can make that statement truthfully. Until Lorena Ochoa starts getting into strip club fights or Jee Young Lee gets arrested on assault weapons charges, that list will probably never get compiled.
  • Being a stats guy, I always wanted to find a sport where I could maybe become the “Bill James” equivalent. Not that I could ever approach that status (what would that be? Technical advisor to Paula Creamer?), but so far the LPGA subject looks like a wide open field. Hopefully this attempt is fairing better than that hockey phase I was in during the late ‘80s.
  • I rarely pass up an opportunity to look at a beautiful woman. There – I said it. Slaughter this sexist pig if you must. There is no doubt that the LPGA has the highest babe quotient of any sport other than figure skating (and I ain’t watching THAT). And don’t try to tell me beach volleyball beats it – wearing a two-piece bathing suit doesn’t automatically make a woman attractive.

So that’s why I write about the women’s golf. As you can see by the number of external links on the right-hand side of my home page, I am swimming in a very small pond when it comes to blogging on this subject. Just ask The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless how hard it is to find anybody talking about the LPGA on the web. “Why the LPGA?” How about “Why not?”


Galley said...

One reason I follow the LPGA is the fact that I live eight miles from Furman University, which has produced many great LPGA players. Some of the best players to ever play the game are playing it right now. It's a great time to be a fan! I can't explain it, but I never really got into the PGA. Of course, if I have to choose between looking at lovely female athletes, and dudes, the women will win out every time.
I totally understand your wanting to carve out a niche. What's the point of doing something that's already been done a thousand times?

Bill Roberts said...

Very well done HD. I also love the LPGA for the same reasons. I go back to the time Nancy Lopez first broke into the LPGA, even to this day I still admire her smooth golf swing. At the present time I travel long distances to watch the ladies in action and volunteer a three tournaments every year around the country. I also watch the PGA but only when Tiger tees it up. I am a recently retired dude that has nothing better to do with his time.

Albert said...

LPGA girls are not bad, but they are no competition to tennis players :)

But you are right about the advantages of following "niche" sports. I don't care much about any of the major American sports (perhaps because I was not born here) except hockey and even that only around the time of Stanley cup or during Olympics. My favorites - tennis, women's golf, and skiing.

Hound Dog said...

Albert, you got me with the tennis players! If they would only play a game that could hold my attention for more than 30 seconds...

Albert said...

Actually I am surprised how little coverage women's golf has on internet. There are some message boards, but they aren't even all that active. Some people say women's golf will be able to compete with WTA. I don't see it happening any time soon...

As an example, wtaworld (the biggest message board devoted solely to women's tennis) currently has 51,870 members (10-20% of them active) and 11,396,995 posts (last 6 years)... And it's hardly the only place (most boards are combined ATP/WTA and I know at least half a dozen with more than 100,000 posts). Long way to go for LPGA to equal that...

ickharris2 said...

Hounddog Keep up the good work I stop by often.

The Constructivist said...

Great post and great reasons, HD!

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