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In a matter of days, Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, will call upon the youth of the world to convene in London in 2012 for the next edition of the Summer Games. Its a ritual that many people don’t pay attention to except for those aspiring to be the next story-line at the staging of the world’s best summer athletes.
Golf is making an effort and some noise to be included in the future festivities. The earliest that it could happen is the 2016 games, which have to yet to be determined as far as a site is concerned. But for now that’s a minor detail...
The IOC will vote next year to decide whether golf will be included. It has sparked some debate amongst players whether it should be part of the games. But don’t be fooled, there is an ulterior motive for the power brokers making the push behind this initiative.
It might sound cynical since the Olympics were spawned (at least once upon a time) from amateur contestants, buts it boils down to what some consider to be the root of all evils: money. Let’s be specific about this. Don’t expect many countries to pay for a gold medal in golf, whatever the format would be if included. Let’s face it the best players in the world are already playing for a King’s ransom week in and week out. Tiger Woods has made over $80 million in official earnings in his young career and a hell of a lot more through endorsements. Mike Weir isn’t about to rededicate himself to his golf game if Canada decides to continue to pay athletes based on a winning a medal. By the time 2016 rolls around the show ponies on the PG A Tour, if they are so inclined will have more than enough in earnings (as if they don’t already) to pay for their own medals. It really isn’t about a gold plated or painted medal either. Let’s face it most of the Tour players have more money wrapped around their wrists than the average American has in savings.

Why is this platform being supported by the R&A, USGA, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, PGA of America and certainly last but not least The Masters? Yes, the good old boys of Augusta National threw their hat in the proverbial ring (no pun intended) to support golf being in the Olympics. “Once a sport is officially accepted into the Olympic program, it becomes entitled to distribution through their National Olympic Committees by sport to some of the proceeds of the Olympic financial generation. So I suspect that it would be another way importantly to jump-start golf in a lot of countries,” explained Master’s Chairman, Billy Payne back in April. And by the way, Mr. Payne knows what he is talking about since he was also the Chairman of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games back in 1996. Is the light bulb getting any brighter???
By including golf as a recognized sport within the Olympic Games, it would gain support from various governments throughout the world. Perhaps a little financial background is appropriate at this point. The IOC manages broadcast partnerships and worldwide sponsorship programs. The Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) manage domestic sponsorship, ticketing and licensing programs within the host country under the direction of the IOC. The Olympic Movement, according to estimates, generated a total of more than $4 billion in revenue during the most recent Olympic quadrennium (2001 – 2004). Numbers are not out yet on Beijing or Vancouver, which hosts the Winter Games in two years. The IOC distributes approximately 92% of Olympic marketing revenue to organizations throughout the Olympic Movement to support the staging of the Olympic Games and to promote the worldwide development of sport. Have I got your attention yet? Its been estimated that during the 2001 - 2004 Olympic quadrennium, the Salt Lake 2002 Organizing Committee received $443 million in broadcast revenue alone from the IOC, and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee received $732 million. Okay now we are getting somewhere. In the event that golf were to be included in this scenario, several countries would require an infrastructure to support a program that could elevate the participation base necessary to try and compete at this level and participate in the appropriate funding. In other words a high tide raises all boats and the IOC would be the ultimate sugar daddy. Keep in mind that golf has been dipping its toe in the pools of eastern European countries as well as the host country of this year’s Games, China, as it attempts to modernize the eastern worlds to western ways of recreation.
Just think of all the golf courses to be built, clubs and balls, tees and overpriced beverage cart services, etc., needed from Athens to New Delhi under this directive. According to legend, Heracles built the original Olympic stadium and surrounding buildings as an honor to his father Zeus. Can’t you just imagine the furor amongst the architectural community as they lobby the powers that be for the rights to design the venue for this historic event? As it stands, the four cities under consideration for hosting the 2016 Summer games are Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. Certainly, if golf were to be included in the Olympics a venue deserving of such stature would have to be erected? Don’t forget there are always co-host cities involved in staging the games and its various sports.
Needless to say, golf has a big opportunity to gain traction potentially on a worldwide theater and its betting on the Olympics to help pick up a pretty food portion of its bar tab. Participation rates, at least in the US have been static by most accounts for several years, despite the inclusion of Tiger Woods. The amount of golf being played domestically on a recreation level has essentially mirrored this pattern as well, so creating a larger play ground is a potential way for the stakeholders in golf to try and grow the game. To date they have essentially failed at this despite their best attempts to suggest otherwise. If successful, it would generate incremental growth in revenues for various segments of the industry while not being liable for the expense in doing so. Sounds
like a win/win scenario. One caveat is that no one
can guarantee Tiger Woods will come to play in
2016 or whomever is consider the heir apparent to
today’s #1 by that time.
There is some irony here that shouldn’t be overlooked.
This week the XXIX Games will extinguish the flame burning in Beijing while at the same time the US Amateur is being determined in Pinehurst, NC. Which one do you think is going to get more attention in the media???