News & Opinion

‘The Match’ smells like leftovers gone bad

Phil Mickelson practices before 2020 U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson will be the ‘A’ player, so to speak, in ‘The Match: Champions for Change’ and have to carry a 4-hour telecast of what is certain to be a lot of bad golf.

Phil Mickelson’s presence won’t be enough to spice up this TV turkey disguised as a golf event, despite the admirable charity goal

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Though I enjoy the other holidays, the fourth Thursday in November stands out.

And though the holiday will be different as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, we still have much for which to be thankful.

One benefit of Turkey Day is the leftovers, which, depending on how well the chef plans, could last for days or be just enough for lunch on Friday. While I enjoy watching the NFL during Thanksgiving, I also like seeing some of the best college football games on Friday while sitting in front of the TV and eating the holiday feast’s leftovers. The only thing that could spoil such a serene Friday would be watching some hacks playing golf.

That’s what’s on the menu at 3 p.m. EST Friday when “The Match: Champions for Change” airs on TNT. Phil Mickelson will team with Charles Barkley against Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning in a modified alternate-shot match at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Ariz. Of course, Mickelson, the only professional golfer in the group, is no hack, not with his 44 PGA Tour victories, including five major championships. The others – basketball’s Curry and Barkley and football’s Manning – have excelled in their respective sports. To watch them play a contrived golf format seems, at best, gratuitous and, at the very least, just plain dreary.

The event will benefit historically Black colleges and universities, but I would rather ask Barkley, Curry and Manning for a large donation – Mickelson already has pledged $500,000 to Jackson State – so that the holiday sports viewer doesn’t have to be subjected to what certainly will be plenty of bad golf.

I’d prefer watching all four play poker, with no limits in betting or oratory. Barkley would shine, if not for his poker skills then with his mouth, which is hall-of-fame worthy.

Instead, TV viewers will see Barkley swing a golf club like a broken barn door that sticks at a certain point each time it is opened and closed. In golf parlance, that is known as the yips. Few golfers have been afflicted with swing yips, but Barkley is the king of the dreaded hitch.

In the TV series “The Haney Project,” instructor Hank Haney worked with Barkley to try to rid the “Round Mound of Rebound,” a former Dream Team Olympian and Basketball Hall of Fame member, of his yips. I don’t recall what ultimately happened with Haney and Barkley. I quickly lost interest after the first episode, and I likely wasn’t the only one.

So, somehow a retired NFL quarterback, a superstar NBA player and a retired NBA player-turned-analyst are going to help Mickelson hold our attention for four hours?

When the pandemic swept across the U.S. earlier this year and shut down most athletic competition, fans were so desperate to see live sports that they would have watched just about anything. In fact, ESPN’s coverage of Korean baseball made a big leap in popularity in America.

American sports fans have moved beyond Korean baseball in recent months. Three men’s major golf championships, the NBA, NHL and MLB have crowned champions, and now we eagerly await what 2021 will bring.

Do network executives think we will watch anything that they throw together, just because it’s on TV? Do they not understand that we have a lot of options, and The Match is not a viable one for any warm-blooded human being?

My guess is that if The Match gets any ratings, it will be because in the process of switching channels, a viewer lands on TNT while lapsing into a turkey coma.  

It’s hard to believe that anyone would consciously watch this drivel. 

We all have better things to do, don’t we?

Course of Life podcast: Previewing "The Match"

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