News | March 10th, 2022
More often than not, entrenched within us is a dislike to accept change. Whether this be your favourite type of food, TV programme, phone brand or even musical taste. When challenged with an alternative method to our own or what we see as the accepted norm, we are quick to find the negatives thus making it difficult to propose new ideas. It is those new ideas that evolve us, and within sports that is no exception. From rule changes to new structures, it is imperative that there is continuous progression. Afterall, we want our beloved sports to be exciting and competitive. However, like anything, there are always positives and negatives.
Cast your mind back a number of months and you may remember the controversy surrounding football and the proposed Super League. Essentially a ploy to gather some of the top teams in the European Leagues and have them play in a separate league. Predictably, this generated an uproar amongst football fans, clubs and even players themselves, labelling the proposal as a marketing stunt, money-making scheme and only for the benefit of the larger clubs. On one hand having the best teams in the world compete against each other on a regular basis would be an exciting prospect, yet on the other with the already stacked schedule for teams and the inevitability of rendering the current European competitions redundant and pointless, this proposal was ultimately disregarded. It may still be supported by some clubs across La Liga and elsewhere, but it isn’t looking likely in the near future.
However, this idea has sparked interest in other ways, including with golf. With a similar format, combining some of the best players in the world to play in a separate league to the current PGA tours, The Super Golf League (SGL) is a proposed new golf league. SGL is owned by LIV Golf, which is financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Firstly, the PGA Tour responded with a statement from PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan alluding that those golfers who choose to play in a new league would no longer be eligible to play in PGA Tour events. With the new league supported by former professional golfer Greg Norman, who in October 2021 was named CEO of LIV Golf, it seems the Super League could have some pull towards it.
PGA Tour member Kramer Hickok said that the new league reportedly will have 12–14 events, which will be filled by 40 players with no cut. Hickok also mentioned that “I think there’s already been 17 guys that have jumped over [to the Super Golf League]”. Meanwhile Ian Poulter was allegedly offered £22 million to join the league, whilst Lee Westwood said that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement relating to the topic. Opposingly, Rory McIlroy declared the SGL ‘dead in the water’ after he and several big names committed themselves to the PGA Tour.
Jay Monahan recently stated the PGA Tour is “moving on” and will “not be distracted by rumours of other golf leagues”. Further, when challenged by Norman who accused the PGA Tour of “bullying” its players with “unenforceable” banning threats, Monahan responded with “Our PGA Tour rules and regulations were written by the players, for the players. They’ve been in existence for over 50 years. I’m confident in our rules and regulations.” This is a prime example of the traditional and future development power struggle. As the PGA Tour utilise sanctions to retain their players, the Super League use the tactic of throwing money at athletes in order to strongarm their decisions. Having observed events with the footballs proposed super league, my personal opinion remains transferable for golf’s latest proposal, in which I believe that yes, a new league helps promote and generate increased marketing and financial support into the sport. However, I find it difficult to get over the idea that introducing a new league will decentralise the sport. It will break up the best athletes competing against each other on the biggest stage. I believe in the notion of saturation; more leagues will result in a reduced level of competitiveness. Like any sporting fan, I want to see the best players competing against each other in the same competition, this is the epitome of competitive sport. If there are certain aspects to a league or sport that need to be addressed; for example, wages, athletes rewards and benefits, or general treatment to fans, then address them directly. Forming a new league will render those traditional cups and honours less valuable and prestigious – isn’t that what sport is about, winning the best competitions in the world?