Thursday, September 6, 2018

Hey!! Golfer, golfer... SWING!!!!!!

At Texas A&M University, there are twelve men on the Aggies’ offensive and defensive football squads. The “12th man” is the crowd of 83,000 in Kyle Field, cheering, roaring and, for all 60 minutes, up on their feet. In Seattle and Indianapolis, home field advantage is huge because of crowd noise that makes it nearly impossible for opposing offenses to call their plays and audibles. The fans at Fenway intimidate pitchers to the point where some of them, like John Lackey of the Angels, have lost their confidence when pitching in the Hub.

If screaming crowds are so effective in football and baseball, why is it that someone decided it’s not appropriate for golf, tennis and bowling? Or ping pong, billiards and chess?

Imagine a throng of Tiger maniacs surrounding the first tee at Augusta, doing the wave and yelling “Tiger, Tiger, he’s our man!! He can do it. Yes he can!!” Five shirtless frat boys, wielding five nearly empty Bud bottles, spell out “IGRET” on their chests. Drum rolls from the LSU band and cheerleaders being tossed fifteen feet into the air add to the frenetic atmosphere.

All the while, Tiger is surveying his drive and taking a couple of practice swings. He approaches the ball, ready to knock it 300+ yards down the fairway. The crowd noise swells in a deafening crescendo and Tiger pulls his driver back and unfurls his trademark swing. Perfectly timed, the cannon blast accentuates the ping of Tiger’s driver meeting the golf ball and the crowd rejoices in the long, straight drive landing twenty yards in front of rival Ernie Els’ shot.

Unlike golf, where the “quiet rule” is imposed even on rounds played among casual weekend players, bowling etiquette tends to be controlled by the blood alcohol content of its participants. Blitzed teammates offer advice to the next bowler like: “It’s the five pin! You know what the five pin is called, don’t you? It’s called the IDIOT pin because it’s right in the middle of the alley. Only an idiot could miss it!! If you miss this spare, you’re buying the next round!”

Now, I know I’m assuming a lot by thinking anyone reading this post has ever watched the Professional Bowlers Association tour on a Saturday afternoon, but I have and they’ve adopted the same gag rule used by the PGA and USTA. Loosen up folks. It’s bowling. It’s the favorite game of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.

Asking a bowling crowd to be quiet is like asking a demolition derby crowd settle down so they can better hear the sounds of crumpling metal. Besides, when a bowler releases the bowling ball, before it even hits the lane, some drunk guy in the stands yells “STRIKE!!!” Thinking about that, I’ve also noticed that the same guy, within three thousandths of a second after a golfer hits his drive, screams “GET IN THE HOLE!!!” Hey, idiot, it’s a par five.

My point is: Why not let fans be fans? It would break the athlete’s concentration, you say? Give me a break, I say. Should the Fenway crowd come to complete silence before Beckett hurls every pitch? Doesn’t he have to concentrate? I think so. Should Celtics fans hush when Kobi goes to the free throw line? I think not.

How much more fun would it be for Sergio Garcia supporters to scream derogatory slogans at Tiger Woods on the 18th green while he’s lining up his birdie putt to win the tournament? How do you say “Boooo!!!!” in Spanish?

We could learn a lot from the rabid European soccer fans. Have you ever seen highlights of the Germany versus England soccer final that didn’t include a melee in the stands, including a couple of bloodied blokes falling onto the playing field and a tier of bleachers collapsing?

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