Category Archives: Sports

Random Thoughts 9 June 2023

If you expected a diatribe about the indictment of Donald Trump, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. Unlike a majority of GOP representatives and Senators and non-Trump contenders for the party’s nomination for president, I am keeping my powder dry until I have a chance to read the actual indictment.  So, today I want to return to my other obsession, the corrupt deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).


Much is being said about the $11 billion investment by the PIF being “blood money.”  Critics point to the Saudi government’s financial support of terrorism and the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet little, if any, of the discussion focuses on the source of the money.  Yesterday, the BBC described the PIF as “a big pot of money – £514 billions to be exact.”  They went on to say:

The reason there’s so much cash in it is because of the massive amounts of money Saudi Arabia has made through selling oil.

Yes, the PIF is investing in golf, but they are investing with your money.  According to The Guardian:

Saudi Aramco has reported a record $161bn (£134bn) profit for 2022, the largest annual profit ever recorded by an oil and gas company, fueled by soaring energy prices and rising global demand.

The soaring prices are a direct result of Mohammed bin Salma’s decision to cut Aramco production contrary to recommendations by other OPEC oil ministers.  Producing an average barrel of crude oil costs Aramco $4.50 which is then sold to American customers today for $72.00/barrel.  In March 2023 alone, based on reported sales to the U.S. of 427,000 barrels, the PIF coffers increased by $28.8 million.  Which suggests the Saudi investment in global golf involves more than just “blood money.”  It is also extortion money.  Yesterday, the Washington Post reported:

In private, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman threatened to fundamentally alter the decades-old U.S.-Saudi relationship and impose significant economic costs on the United States if it retaliated against the oil cuts, according to a classified document obtained by The Washington Post.

As if you needed another reason to boycott the PGA Tour, just think about how much of the next increase in gas prices is going into the pockets of hypocritical PGA Tour golfers, commissioner Jay Monahan and the board of directors of the still unnamed global golf governing body.


After one day, I’m still on the wagon.  I did not watch a second of TV coverage of the Canadian Open broadcast.  However, I did plan to tune into the LPGA Shoprite Classic being played in Galloway, New Jersey.  I increasingly find the women’s tour more entertaining.  The pace of play is much faster.  The ladies, so far, do not feel a need to straddle every inch between one’s ball and the hole to read a putt.  And success depends on the ability to master the full range of clubs in one’s bag rather than relying solely on a titanium driver and three wedges.

However, I am having a change of heart after reading the statement on the PGA Tour/PIF merger issued by LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

As we have consistently said, a fractured ecosystem is not good for the game and we look forward to learning what today’s announcement means for the growth and impact of global golf. We remain focused on growing the LPGA, continuing to work with the top partners in the world to provide the best opportunity for our membership and to make sure that everything we do continues to allow us to inspire, elevate and advance opportunities for girls and women, on and off the golf course.

What message does the PIF buyout send to young girls about opportunity?  There are joint PGA/LPGA events.  Will these also fall under the umbrella of the PIF?  Does Ms. Samaan realize LPGA affiliation with the Saudi venture represents more than greed?  Is she ignoring Saudi allegiance to Sharia law and its suppression of women’s right and criminalization of homosexuality?  It is a slap in the face to female golfers and particularly openly gay LPGA professionals such as Ryan O’Toole and Georgia Hall whose story is featured during Pride Month on the tour’s website.

Hopefully, members of the women’s tour have more cajones than their male counterparts, if and when, the PIF proposes bringing the LPGA into their gold-embroidered tent.


Kurt Streeter, golf analyst for the New York Times, summarized the PGA Tour/LIV merger this way.

The PGA Tour presented itself as the guy who calls a penalty on himself if he accidentally moves his ball a quarter-inch. Turns out it was the guy who makes a double-bogey and marks it down as a par.

For what it’s worth.





The Super Bowl would not be the Super Bowl without a major controversy.  Yesterday was not exception.  With less than two minutes remaining in a tied game, a holding call on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry all but assured a Chiefs win.  Rather than focus on the referees, today’s game analysis will highlight two heroes and the villain who most contributed to the game’s outcome. 

Hero #1 is Bradberry.  He is exactly what we needed, an anti-George Santos.  In a post-game interview, Bradberry admitted he pulled JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey. Without the necessity of a courtroom scene reminiscent of A Few Good Men.

INTERVIEWER (quietly):  Did you hold Smith-Schuster?
BRADBERRY:  I did the job I was sent to do.
INTERVIEWER (much louder):  Did you hold Smith-Schuster?
BRADBERRY:  You’re goddamn right I did!

Instead, Bradberry explained, “I pulled on his jersey.  They called it.  I was hoping they would let it ride.”  Who did he think the referee was?  Bill Barr?

Hero #2 is Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni.  When asked about the holding call, he refused to take the bait.  “It’s not my job to make the call…there’s so many plays that contribute to the end result and today they were better than we were.”  When faced with a reporter’s gotcha question, he chose civility.  Sirianni is a coach for whom anyone should be proud to play.

If not the game officials, the coaches or any of the players, who deserved the Simon Legree award Sunday evening?  The National Football League and its commissioner Roger Goodell.  Dr. ESP, how can you say that?  Goodell was sitting in the stands with Damar Hamlin and the Kelce brothers’ mother.  The only possible connection the league had to the outcome was selecting the officiating team.

The link was easy to miss because it took place years before Super Bowl LVII was played.  Fox Sports analyst Howie Long made the connection but did not realize it at the time.  During the half-time program, Long was asked, “Can the Chiefs get back in this game?” He prefaced his answer with the following.

During a regular season game the teams are in the locker room for 13 minutes.  Tonight, half-time is 29 minutes.  That gives a good coach more than enough time to make adjustments.

Halftime actually began around 8:00 pm EST and the second half kickoff came 50 minutes later.  Long punctuated his observation, invoking Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-38 in overtime.  Per the title of today’s post, I have dubbed this phenomenon “SLOw the MOmentum.”

What do the 2017 Patriots and the 2023 Chiefs have in common?  Both had all-pro quarterbacks and two of the best coaches in recent NFL history.  But their opponents had the momentum and the lead at halftime.  For a great coach with a talented team, 45 minutes to adjust one’s game plan is more than enough time to turn around a football game. 

But there may have been an even more important factor resulting from the artificially prolonged intermission.  The extra 35 minutes gave whatever painkillers the Chiefs’ medical team used to alleviate the effects of Patrick Mahomes’ reinjured upper ankle time to kick in.  As Dow Corporation used to advertise, “Better living (or in this case, maneuverability)  through chemistry.”  Whether a more hobbled Mahomes or backup Chad Henne could have as efficiently executed the second-half opening touchdown drive is less probable.

Apply SLO-the-MO to something other than sports.  Imagine if, after Joe Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary, the National Committee postponed Super Tuesday. “Let’s take a month off for the Winter Olympics.”  Does anyone doubt Biden’s opponents would have used that time to derail the Biden bandwagon?

Or if Steve Jobs, after introducing the iPhone, took the Apple senior leadership to Austin for a two-week vacation at SXSW.  The R&D and marketing departments at Nokia and Motorola would have been working 24/7 to overcome their competition’s surprise announcement.

This has nothing to do with Rihanna or her performance.  I will leave that to The Other Guy.  I suggest Goodell and the NFL owners consider an alternative.  If you want a Super Bowl concert, hold it on Saturday night at the stadium.  Bundle tickets for the concert and the game on Sunday.  More money for the NFL.  Broadcast it live around the world.  Apple will still sponsor it. As Jesus might have said, “Render unto Saturday Night what belongs on Saturday Night’s and render unto Sunday what is football.”

For what it’s worth.

While My Qatar Gently Weeps

The World Cup could be played on a sandlot and still be a major event, watched by hundreds of millions of viewers, due to the quality of the competition and the skilled participants. But it is more than a sporting event. It is the Super Bowl of international team athletic contests with all the pomp, circumstance and distractions that make it more than a game. Which is why, throughout the competition, there have been reminders why the choice of Qatar as the site for FIFA2022 was a travesty.

Forget the FIFA governing body bribes. Or the 6,500 deaths associated with construction of the eight venues and visitor accommodations. Or the unfulfilled promises to those immigrant laborers who were able to survive the heat and accommodations. Or Qatar’s history of civil rights violations. Those have been well-documented. My focus is on the evidence which has emerged during the games.

#1: Empty Seats. The capacity of the eight newly-constructed venues range from 44,089 at 974 Stadium in Ras Abu Aboud to 88,966 at Lusail Stadium located in its namesake city. According to HUKOOMI.COM, the Qatar e-Government website, the “intended audience” includes visiting students, tourists and business owners as well as resident parents, business owners and employees. Keep in mind Qatar’s population is 2.9 million, not enough to fill the seats once, much less multiple times over the four week tournament.

Compare this to some of the venues announced for the 2026 World Cup co-hosted by the USA, Mexico and Canada. Matches at the Meadowlands will be within close proximity to a metropolitan tri-state population of 19.8 million people. Similar numbers for Toronto, Mexico City and the other 13 sites ensure every seat will be filled even if the field is expanded to 48 or 62 teams, something which is under serious consideration.

#2: To ensure the pitch (playing surface) at each of the eight venues are both functionally and aesthetically up to FIFA standards, they have been overseeded with rye grass, a winter variant needed when the contest was moved from June/July to November/December to avoid the brutal summer heat of Qatar’s desert environment. Still, the pitches have been constantly watered and artificially cooled to ensure their consistently. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in complaints the surfaces are more slippery than in past years.

#3: Broken promises. Perhaps the most publicized reversal was the decision by Qatari officials, two days before the opening ceremonies, to ban alcohol consumption in and around the stadiums. This was contrary to the commitment made as part of Qatar’s bid to host the games in which they agreed to allow alcohol in designated stadium areas. AB InBev, Budweiser’s parent company, is the single largest FIFA sponsor and surely would have opposed the site selection if Qatar had been upfront about these restrictions.

Less reported was Qatar’s promise to provide kosher meals and access to prayer services for Israeli and other Jewish attendees. Claiming security concerns, the Qatari officials reneged on both commitments.

#4: Subsidizing foreign fan attendance. Concerned about lack of attendance by fans of the other national teams, Qatar created the Fan Leader Network Programme under which they promised to pay for airfare, lodging, match tickets and per diem for handpicked attendees from the 31 other nations represented at the tournament. In return, these anointed attendees were expected to “report any social media posts which were critical of Qatar.” (New York Times, 11/7/22) Following international press disclosure of the program, the Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the body established in 2011 to oversee preparation and conduct of the games, suspended the per diem payments.

#5: Screening attendee apparel. Friday, Kevin Amirehsani and his sister Kiana were prevented from entering the Iran/Wales match until Kiana changed out of her “Woman. Life. Freedom.” t-shirt. Today, it was three Iranians–Saed, his wife Negin and friend Kiyarash–who were detained for wearing similar apparel. On Saturday, World Cup security demanded German soccer fan Bengt Kunkel and a friend surrender their rainbow colored armbands before they were allowed to attend the France/Germany match.

So much for delivery and legacy. The regime established by the Supreme Committee must have taken its game plan out of The Art of the Deal when it comes to contracts, Florida’s Stop Woke and Don’t Say Gay Acts when it comes to tolerance and Texas’ anti-abortion law when it comes to women’s rights. Who says the world doesn’t look to the USA for leadership? At least the autocratic world still does.


Yesterday, the government of Iran demanded the United States be expelled from the World Cup after the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) posted a picture on its social media sites of the Iranian flag sans the Islamic Republic logo, as it appeared during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The act was designed to show solidarity with protesters following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s “morality police” for refusing to wear a hijab.

One would hope the USSF could have been much smarter in finding a way to show support for the protesters. Does anyone honestly believe the USSF would be any less offended if the Iranians had posted the Union Jack as the USA standard to sympathize with Black Lives Matter protesters? If the USSF thinks it is appropriate to feature the flag of their pre-revolution monarch to “stick it to” the Iranians, why would it not be equivalent to question the legitimacy of the current U.S. government by displaying the banner of America’s own pre-revolutionary monarchy?

For what it’s worth.

LIV and Let Die

Call me Grandpa ESP, but there is only one thing I hope the powers that run professional men’s golf four major tournaments say to defectors to the Saudi funded LIV tour. GET OFF OUR LAWN. The same goes for sports reporters, most notably ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, who must be getting paid under the table by Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud to promote the rogue tour.

On Wednesday’s edition of “Pardon the Interruption,” Wilbon was virtually salivating over the prospect an LIV player might win the Open Championship. He described the possibility of an LIV champion as disruptive. And argued the combination of guaranteed money and the ability to still play in the majors will be hard for many PGA and European (now DP) Tour players to resist. Minus eligibility to play in the majors, even Wilbon believes the number of defections will decline.

It was obvious participants in the LIV were not welcome at the Open Championship being played at St. Andrews, the birthplace of the game. Two time Open champion Greg Norman, who has been part of LIV since its inception and is tasked with recruiting players, was not invited to the past champions’ dinner. Loyal PGA and DP players used time at their pre-tournament press conferences to label the defectors as “ungrateful” and “disrepectful of the game’s history and traditions.” More meaningful as this week’s event is the 150 anniversary of the Open Championship.

There is not much the powers behind the four majors–the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship–can do about the LIV Tour’s deep pockets. But they do control who plays in their tournaments and how they qualify. Members of the St. Andrews Royal and Ancient board, the governing body for the Open Championship, signaled they are looking at changes to the qualifying criteria in order to exclude LIV participants.

That may not be necessary. Most of the top players qualify for the majors based on their world golf rankings, calculated on performance in authorized tour events. This week, the LIV tour applied to the ranking organization to award points for LIV events. If consideration of the LIV application was a jury trial, the panel should return its verdict in record time. Consider the following.

Comparing LIV events to those sponsored by the PGA and DP Tours is not a case of apples and oranges. It’s more like automobiles and televisions. The former consists of 48 players competing over 54 holes. To win a LIV event, a player need only out perform 47 competitors over three days. Most PGA and DP events require the winner to excel over four days (72 holes) and best 153 other challengers.

Think of it this way. What if someone created a breakaway professional baseball league with 10 teams that play seven-inning contests over a season consisting of fifty games. Then claimed the division leaders have qualified for the World Series playoffs. Even the justices on today’s Supreme Court would describe the situation as “separate and unequal.”

Professional golfers tend to be Republican and ideologically conservative. Which makes it all that more surprising the LIV contingent is pushing this perversion of “affirmative action.” So what if we are not competing at the same level or under the same rules. We deserve to be admitted to your institutions of higher golf. Not because we are historically disadvantaged or destitute. Quite the opposite.

And do not be surprised when they take the PGA/DP Tours and major tournament sponsors to court claiming their livelihoods have been harmed. One thing you must admit. These guys play with larger than regulation sized dimpled balls.

For what it’s worth.

No We Khan’t

Always in search of the next entrepreneurial opportunity, I took note of two media trends that have dominated American television for decades. First is the remake of British TV shows for a domestic audience. Among the most notable are “American Idol,” hand carried to our shores by Simon Cowell following his success in the London-based “Pop Idol,” “The Office” modeled after Ricky Gervais’ hit of the same title, and “All in the Family,” a doppelganger of “Till Death Us Do Part.”

The second trend is the willingness to tweak a successful format as many ways as possible to make up for the lack of new ideas among the Hollywood and New York entertainment elite. Which brings me back to “American Idol” which has spawned a plethora of increasingly gimmicky and excruciating imitations. “The Voice.” “The Masked Singer.” “I Can See Your Voice.” “Sing On!” “Lip Sync Battle.” “Rhythm + Flow.” “Songland.” And the most recent “Alter Ego,” on which the performers don motion capture suits to become on-stage avatars.

Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan Opposes Trump's Immigration Ban - The New York  Times

Which brings me to my latest venture, a British version of the award-honored American series “Ted Lasso.” The creative twist? Instead of fiction, it is a pseudo-documentary in which the owner of a successful British football team buys an NFL franchise in hopes of a similar level of achievement. It stars Pakistani-born billionaire Shahid Khan who purchased the flailing Fulham Cottagers in 2013. Fulham was on the verge of relegation (demotion) from the Premier League (MLB equivalent) to the Championship League (AAA equivalent). Five years later Fulham was again promoted to the Premier League.

How did they do it? Khan hired his son Tony as Fulham’s director of operations, the NFL equivalent of general manager. He changed managers (read head coach) four times.

In 2009, Khan expresses interest in American sports and seeks the advice of Jerry Colangelo, former owner of the basketball Phoenix Suns and baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. In an interview with the New York Times, Colangelo states, “His interest was specifically football, but he may have mentioned baseball, too.” (Indecision about which sport one knows the least is never a good sign.) Two years later he makes an offer to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars and receives approval of the sale by NFL owners in December 2011.

Confident the system he used to return Fulham to the Premier League would work in America, Khan appoints son Tony as “chief football strategy officer” (whatever that is) and brings in a new head coach Mike Mularkey (please, no Joe Biden jokes), the first of five such changes over nine years.

After five losing seasons, the 2017 campaign appeared to vindicate Khan’s ownership when the 10-6 Jaguars made it to the AFC championship game. Convinced he had conquered one more world, Khan turned to another “sports” venture, creation of All Elite Wrestling, a new professional wrestling circuit to compete with the McMahons WWE.

2017 proved to be an anomaly. Despite additions such as Urban “Khan: This time I got it right.” Meyer as head coach and overall #1 draft choice quarterback Trevor Lawrence, fans have suffered through four disappointing seasons with the last two at the very bottom of the NFL standings.

This is not the script Khan had written for his foray into western hemisphere athletics. So, at the end of season one, Khan considers pulling the Jaguars out of the NFL to establish a new league, All Elite Football modeled after AEW with stars like Trevor “Pretty Boy” Lawrence and Cam “The Enforcer” Robinson. That should produce a script Khan can relish.

If BBC does not think “No I Khan’t” communicates the premise, maybe they would prefer “Ted Losso.”

For what it’s worth.