Regular readers know that I am not a big fan of the Masters as a golf tournament, and for reasons I elaborated on as part of the A Position’s Masters round-up earlier today, I don’t think it should be one of golf’s Majors.
In one sense, it is a shame that Tiger chose to make his return here, because he turned the weekend from a high-profile golf tournament into a high profile sporting event, more like the Olympics or the Superbowl, something that even non-fans are suddenly interested it. That’s a good thing: it’s great for golf, great for television ratings, great for the potential growth of the sport, but at a critical point when the USGA and PGA of America have finally begun making a real effort to bring Majors to more public courses (both the US Open and PGA Championship will be on publics this year, a historic rarity), a course accessible to all of Tiger’s fans, past, present and future, would have been a nice choice.
But I understand exactly why Tiger chose to return at the Masters and it makes sense:
August National is a TMZ-free zone.
That feat is one that has become incredibly difficult these days, as a superficial, celebrity obsessed media increasingly pokes its unwanted nose into every banal aspect of modern life. Consider today’s story on cnn.com, “Victim’s Mom Says Showing Grisly Photos Adds to Grief.” Of course it does, and CNN notes that the issue raises “The question: Where should the line be drawn between the public’s right to know and a crime victim’s family’s right to privacy?” In many cases today there is no question: the public’s “right” to know is nothing more than obscene and vicarious viewing pleasure, with such photos and news adding nothing to public safety, policy or discourse. They satisfy nothing but prurient interest.
And so it goes for much of the celebrity coverage by print and online outlets from TMZ.com to People Magazine, which was specifically mentioned by the office of Augusta’s Mayor as suddenly taking interest in this year’s Masters. The fact that they haven’t bothered forever shows that the new media interest has nothing whatsoever to do with golf and everything to do with adultery, and as a result, I can finally get behind the stuffy green blazer dudes who run August National.
As an actual journalist, it has been fun to watch the gossip mongers and folks who believe that access to a data line makes them reporters squirm over finally running into a firewall they can’t hack – the barb-wired shrubs lining the golf club.
The Detroit News’ Wire Service ran the headline “TMZ, celeb media set to cover Masters — credentials or not,” indicating their continued lack of respect for privacy, and more importantly, for themselves and their when-it-suits-us argument that they part of the actual media establishment.
I don’t mean to pick on TMZ, they are just a very visible face of a much larger cesspool, a problem afflicting not just media but the country in general – after all TMZ and its ilk would not exist if people did not have stupidly misplaced interest, love and/or loathing for celebrities they don’t know. But in any case, in a world where our cars are tracked at tollbooths, photos can be surreptitiously taken in any setting, and celebrity baby pictures snapped by privacy invading paparazzi are worth more than hard working families can make in years, its refreshing to still have a TMZ-free zone and I applaud -just this one time – Augusta National for that.