European Tour and players should stop and think
Morning Read's Alex Miceli is wrong, as are those who say that the Saudi Invitational is "just a golf tournament” (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
Saudi Arabia, like other nations in the past and present, seeks validation through the acceptance of its sporting events and, if possible, the success of its athletes. We do not need to look very hard to see this happening every day in the sporting world, nor do we need to look back many years to see this very effort of state-sponsored sport being used to validate an abusive regime.
Are we supposed to be supportive of Saudi Arabia because in 2019 its women can drive cars, as many are so happy to proclaim, yet somehow stay mute on the clear examples of abuse of power against many of their citizens, the immigrants and lower-class workers in their nation? Are we to turn a blind eye to the killing of a man who dared to question the legitimacy of such abuse, all in the name of “growing the game”?
As a Canadian, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley should be ashamed of his willingness to somehow forget the repressiveness of Saudi Arabia. He and others should take this as an opportunity to stand up, state the obvious and stop their tacit approval of the nation that this tournament represents.
If the only way the European Tour can be successful is to play events in support of regimes like this, then perhaps the tour should rethink its goals. The players likewise should ask themselves what their clear willingness to ignore this issue says about them. Their silence on this issue implies consent.
Chamblee lived up to a moral duty
Hyperbole aside, Brandel Chamblee is right (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
The Saudi regime didn’t just lock up a reporter for a couple of weeks to send the message that he should back off. The leaders sent a crew of killers to a third country, grabbed him and chopped him up, for God’s sake. They didn’t even have the decency to leave a body for the family.
Jamal Khashoggi’s death aside, it also sent a blaring message to the rest of the Saudi media as well as his entire country to shut up. We killed him. We might kill you.
I spent two years in the former Soviet Union, working to develop a free media. The Soviets killed reporters too. Sometimes it might be just a beating. Your kids suddenly are expelled from college. Or the tax police pay a visit. Intimidation can take a lot of forms.
All of us want to see golf grow worldwide, but maybe just this one time – instead of spreading truckloads of money in appearance fees to the top players – the golf community could have stood up and said, “Not this week; not this country.” The Saudis slaughtered a columnist who wrote for an American newspaper and threw him away.
Geopolitics isn’t above Chamblee’s pay grade. I would argue it’s right in his wheelhouse.
KKK Open would be better than Saudi event
Does Alex Miceli actually believe the crap that he just wrote? (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
Pretending that the disgusting players who chose to go to Saudi Arabia actually are there to be ambassadors of golf is a joke. To pretend that they went there for any reason other than to collect a big, fat appearance check is disingenuous.
Playing in a golf tournament in Saudi Arabia is worse than playing in a golf tournament sponsored by the KKK. At least the KKK doesn’t hate women. Would you argue that it is OK to play for the KKK because you would be opening up the world of golf to violent racists and anti-Semites? Instead of corporate logos on their shirts and hats this week, the touring pros should wear the slogans: “I hate Jews”; “I hate women”; “I hate gays”; “I hate freedom.”
But it is all OK in Miceli’s book, because they are spreading the love of golf.
Unlike some of the players who are just too stupid (yes, I mean you, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed) to understand the ramifications of what they are doing, Miceli is an intelligent person. That makes me question what kind of a person he must be. Criticizing Brandel Chamblee for pointing out the obvious just makes Miceli that much more disgusting.
Chamblee should focus his outrage on U.S.
Normally, I couldn’t care less about what commentators say. I listen with less than half an ear. But this? (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
I get sick of listening to people, especially wind bags who get paid to blow out hot air, talk about human rights. I married an African-American woman long ago. At the time we got together, it was not long after Virginia finally relented and “legalized” mixed marriage. Much has changed over the years in America, but there still too often are instances of human-rights issues.
Being from Chicago, I ask: Did it really require a full clip from a handgun to put down a citizen run amok? See Jason Van Dyke and Laquan McDonald for reference. Is that better or worse than Jamal Khashoggi? It's the same. Both forfeited their lives in horribly tragic ways when they otherwise still should be alive today.
Wake up, Brandel Chamblee. You want to protest human-rights issues? There are plenty in America even today.
Should the PGA Tour shut down because of it? Or maybe you could look around before you start condemning other countries and say something about America first.
Golf in Saudi Arabia fails on principle
I am a long-time golf industry executive, a former golf professional and have been competing in the game for more than 50 years. I share this background to express that golf has been an important part of my life from an early age, guiding me through its emphasis on honor, sportsmanship, competitiveness, and most importantly how to manage adversity.
I read Alex Miceli’s commentary and felt compelled to respond, as his position is far off base from the game's primary lessons (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31). While I agree that Brandel Chamblee’s comments are often controversial, with a tinge of arrogance in delivery, he is spot on in this conversation. If Miceli’s “pay grade” comment was meant to demean Chamblee’s intellect, I believe Miceli may have inadvertently demonstrated his own lack thereof.
To suggest that financial ramifications, growth of the European Tour, PGA Tour, or any tour somehow justifies overlooking human-rights abuses, murder, and other forms of corruption is a clear compromise of human principles and decency.
Golf teaches us to respect our competitors, to overcome adversity, to act honorably, and behave with integrity always. Miceli’s argument doesn't stand up to these principles.
Laguna Hills, Calif.
(Oldach is the owner of Pro Shop Sports, which manages national accounts for a number of golf-equipment brands.)
White privilege offers pros plenty of cover
I wonder how “all for it” Patrick Reed would be without the appearance fee to play in Saudi Arabia? Take the appearance fee out of the equation and then I’ll believe that Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Reed are playing to grow the game and not their bank accounts (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
Alex Miceli says that these guys “know what they’re doing.” Do they? Are they aware of the change that’s going on in our own country? Don’t they realize that the professional golf tour is sports’ poster child for white privilege in our country? Stupid question; they don’t. When you’re privileged, you think that you can get away with just about anything ... because that’s what comes from being privileged. Privileged will have a publicist create some socially acceptable sound bites that they can use while they take their fiancées on a two-week lavish vacation in Maldives and pocket a few million while doing it. Privileged see only the present.
Except for the major championships, practically every tournament is underwritten by corporate sponsors. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monaghan ought not be surprised if the new wave in our politics has a significant effect on the Tour and its sponsors.
By turning their backs on social issues important to a very vocal segment of the American public, the Tour is asking for trouble.
There’s a better way to grow the game
So, expanding the game of golf and contributing to the "local economy" is more important than humanitarian rights and denied, intentional, heinous crimes (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31). If there were 10 people killed, or children involved, would that change the equation? Maybe the European Tour should consider playing in Syria if Bashar al-Assad were to sponsor a tournament to expand the game.
Maybe Brandel Chamblee should be respected for speaking the truth and asking touring pros to take an honorable position. Maybe that's how we truly can expand the game.
Long Island, N.Y.
Next stop on Miceli’s Terrorism Tour: North Korea?
It appears as if Alex Miceli is trying to justify his appearance and coverage of the Saudi International by lashing out at Brandel Chamblee and other critics who question the tournament being held in a country with questionable human-rights practices (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
I would think that Miceli also would be a critic of a kingdom which most intelligence services agree had a hand in the killing of his fellow journalist Jamal Khashoggi for daring to criticize the Saudi rulers. Perhaps Miceli’s commentary had to pass through the Saudi censors and he feared the consequences of criticizing the Saudi government.
I suppose the next stop for the European Tour should be North Korea. Miceli can interview Kim Jong Un about his claim of 11 holes-in-one … in one round!
Miceli misses target while Chamblee nails it
I love reading Alex Miceli, but on Brandel Chamblee’s criticisms about players competing in Saudi Arabia, Miceli isn’t even close to the target and Chamblee hit a bull’s-eye (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
These golfers are there for an appearance fee only. They turn their backs on morality to place a few extra dollars in their pockets.
I applaud Paul Casey to let his humanity be placed before his pocketbook (“In the news,” Jan. 28).
To say that promoting golf is apolitical is a sad joke. To quote Edmund Burke, in a comment made famous by President John F. Kennedy: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
If the professional tours didn't play in countries that had some sort of controversial historical issues, where would the players compete?
Enough with the political agendas, please
I would like to be able to watch a program that is not involved in a political agenda (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
In the past few weeks, I have made the decision not to watch any news and stop reading news articles on the web. Life is hard enough day to day. Why would I watch someone who has his own political agenda, such as Brandel Chamblee, with the ability to spread his political beliefs?
I watch Golf Channel to be entertained, not preached to.
North Haven, Conn.
Cheers for Chamblee but shame on Morning Read
Brandel Chamblee was absolutely right in condemning players for traveling to Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst human-rights records in the world. For Alex Miceli to suggest that "expanding the game" or "supporting the European Tour" is more important than refusing to support in any way this murderous regime is myopic, at best (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
Shame on you – and the European Tour – and kudos to Chamblee for having the guts to call out the players. He's absolutely right.
Chamblee displays ‘arrogance beyond the pale’
Thank you, Alex Miceli, for taking Brandel Chamblee to task for his recent tirade (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
I was beside myself because I lacked the ability to raise my voice, in a meaningful way, to his disparagement of other people as if he were the only adult in the room. His self-righteous, all-knowing attitude and demeanor were outrageous.
It is one thing to disagree with others, but to accuse them of a lack of understanding and disparage them reflects a level of arrogance beyond the pale.
Donald A. Mowry
Respect for players who refuse ‘dirty money’
Brandel Chamblee is entitled to his opinion, which I (and much of the free world) share. I’m not sure whether the point of your article was to prove that your opinion matters more. It doesn’t. This just happens to be your platform (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
It’s dirty money, and if players want to take it, that’s their business. I respect those who don’t.
St. Paul, Minn.
(Larey is an LPGA teaching professional.)
Take an honest look at motives in Saudi Arabia
Ha! Now even the founder of Morning Read has joined the political fray (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31). I thank Alex Miceli for his comments and agree that Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee is pontificating beyond his normal responsibilities.
Growth of the game is an admirable aspiration, but in Saudi Arabia, it will be mostly among the many members of the extended royal family. The Saudis import people to do much of their grunt work. I think we in the United States can identify with that particular economic aspect of their society. Golf will be a game mostly for those with lots of discretionary income. So be it.
Let's be honest, though, Alex. Perhaps a few players burn with the desire to spread the game of golf around the world. Most of them, however, are much more interested in accumulating wealth wherever it might be found. This week, they are finding it in Saudi Arabia.
St. Augustine, Fla.
Stick to golf and avoid politics, Chamblee
Alex Miceli is correct in his view about pros competing in the Saudi event (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
They are basically paid performers who are there to show their skills to a public that has a lot of interest in golf.
I do not turn on a TV show or go to a concert to be lectured on how I should think. I do it to be entertained, which is what I am paying for. When people who are paid to sing and dance start to get political, I turn them off. If I want that, I go to Fox or another place where that is what they are paid for.
Professional golfers are paid to play golf, and the ones over there are right to go. That is their job.
Brandel Chamblee got a little out of line. He is paid to commentate on golf, not politics.
Gulf Shores, Ala.
Driving home a point about Saudi life
If Saudi Arabia decided to sponsor an LPGA tournament, the announcement would end with immediate laughter. No woman with even five minutes’ worth of education on the limitations of human rights for women in Saudi Arabia would go (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
Do they have a say in family decisions? In any pictures of national officials, is there a female minister?
When you enslave half of your population, and then throw out the bone of “but they can now drive,” it does not enlighten about your progressive attitudes, but the depths of your discrimination.
Stand up, shut up and play
Bull’s-eye, Alex Miceli (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
The American golfer couldn’t care less about Brandel Chamblee's geopolitical view.
If I see one pro take a knee at the Masters or U.S. Open this year, I'm going to eat my range finder.
Stop it, American athletes. Just play. No more political statements.
Santa Ana, Calif.
Don’t criticize Saudis without mentioning Mexico
Politics should not mix with golf. Nobody ever heard of Jamal Khashoggi before his death, and who really cares? The Saudis are a key ally. Khashoggi messed with them and paid the price. That is a lame excuse to bring up when it comes to golf (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
You notice that Congress did a lot of woofing about it, but now nothing. Congress knows we need the Saudis as an ally in the Middle East.
Mexican drug cartels exist because of corruption with police and the government. Mexico will host a PGA Tour event soon. Let’s see whether the Saudi haters say anything about Mexico, where the drug cartels drive the murder rate to be among the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
I can't wait to see whether you get any complaints when that tournament comes up.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Plenty of opinions but very little of interest
I totally agree with your Morning Read article chastising Brandel Chamblee (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
He only illustrates a glaring example of what is happening to our society. We have become a nation of opinionates of anyone who has a soap box to step out of their area of expertise and pontificate their opinions about any subject they have thought about for which I have no interest. We see it with celebrities from all walks of life. Even worse, the staggering amount of armchair amateur pundits are on social media by the hordes.
Enough, already. They all need to keep their mouths (pens, pencils and keyboards) shut. We don’t care one iota what they think about subjects outside of their areas of so-called expertise.
I like much of what Brandel Chamblee does in his golf commentary, but his political views are best checked at Golf Channel’s door.
Don’t support murderous Saudi regime
Sorry, Alex Miceli, but I couldn’t disagree more (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
A regime that murders should not be supported.
Robert Eaton Kelley
Chamblee gets it, but Miceli doesn’t
I normally enjoy commentary from Alex Miceli, but his thoughts about Saudi Arabia and Brandel Chamblee could not have been more off the mark (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
It is exactly because the Saudi government wants to use events like this to increase tourism and get the rest of the world to overlook its unconscionable conduct that the European Tour and the players should have taken a stand by boycotting the event.
As a journalist, Miceli should care. Chamblee was right, and Miceli was wrong.
Placing the "growth of golf" worldwide ahead of basic human rights – especially when state-sponsored assassination is involved – is too ridiculous even to consider.
Miceli has lost the respect of this 73-year-old golfer who is first a human being. Miceli, not Chamblee, is the one who doesn't get it.
Glen Arbor, Mich.
The last word … not that he will see it
Brandel Chamblee and we poor, ignorant “Saudi critics” didn’t miss the big picture, but Alex Miceli certainly did (“Chamblee, Saudi critics miss big picture,” Jan. 31).
I will be unsubscribing from Morning Read after sending this. I will miss reading it, but for some of us, maintaining a higher moral standard is more important than short-term enjoyment and entertainment.
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