Originally Posted by Aguirre
Tiger was unique not just because of his extraordinary talent, but because of his ethnicity in a sport dominated by white men. He's so unique that it's probably impossible to replicate.
I think this is very true, as Tiger threatened to breakdown barriers. Is there really any enduring evidence that this has happened on any scale though? We were left with the impression that Tiger took the game to new areas, but that these new 'followers' (I won't necessarily call them fans) were quite a soft constituency more inclined to watch the Television and shout "in the hole" every ten minutes. If they aren't participating beyond viewing there is a ceiling on their contribution, and like any fickle consumer, they can turn off as quickly as they tuned in.
I think to some extent we were also left with the impression that traditional America embraced Phil Mickelson as their natural standard bearer, and a sort of rivalry developed
This new viewing cohort however meant that networks could go to advertisers with inflated rate cards, yet at the time when televsion audiences grew on the Tiger boom, golf playing was starting to fall. The two didn't correlate perfectly, but the relationship is more complicated, possibly off-set by time lags.
2000-01 was the peak for the number of rounds played and its declined every year since. It means that those who like to use the credit crunch as the explanation have to explain the 7-8 years of decline in between, and also the Tigersists would need to acknowledge that he was competitive throuhgout this period too, and indeed, even starting to close in on Jack. Ironically, the latest data thats starting to emerge for 2014 suggests that this year will see the first reversal of the trend and witness an increase in participation (largely in the north). It's difficult to argue that Tiger can be held responsible for this given that he's been invisible for the best of the season and a shadow of his former self
Originally Posted by skydog
Is he a star in the golf world? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean he will be a star in this country's sports scene- measured by his ability to draw viewers and interest in the game from casual sports fans. If Rory had been gunning it out on the back nine with Stenson and Day yesterday (no Phil or Rickie), do you really think the ratings would be good?
I'm sure this is true, and equally I'm inclined to ask if the number of people staying up until passed 02.00 in the morning in the UK, would have been as high were it not for American opposition. I recall people watching Nick Faldo (and he was never particularly popular) but defeating the American behmoth was and remains so today (hence why we put a much greater emphasis on the RC, and why your standard bearers now appear to be looking at the Olympics, and can't even manage to make a small detour to Gleneagles to play the course in the company of their Captain)
I should say that Sky leant Sunday an occasional Ryder Cup narrative, "can the two Americans chase down Rory" but then Sky do host the RC so have a clear commercial incentive
Originally Posted by skydog
I think the best case scenario for golf over the next decade is for a rivalry to continue to build between Rory and the likes of Rickie and/or Spieth, etc. where Rory plays the villian foil to the American stars because he will never be a true superstar in this country regardless of how many majors he wins (and I think he wins 10+).
I think this is likely to be the case. Sport needs competition and a compelling narrative to accompany it. The ingredients are there
I'm not so sure Rory is going to be the villian though. I suspect he's one of the more adoptable imports and it will be interesting to see how that evolves. Whose to say he doesn't marry American? So far as I can observe Rory doesn't have the level of indifference towards America and Americans that some other Europeans have exhibited (and perhaps it shows up in his Ryder Cup record too)
The golfer who is perhaps missing in all this (largely because he self destructed last week) is Bubba. I'm sure he's part of this mix going forward, and he's got the capacity to be a bigger villian than Rory's nationality. Rory arguably carries an even bigger burden in Ulster actually. Barry McGuigan cut across the communities but a boxers shelf-life is precarious. Rory is the first sports star from the post peace period
I'm at a bit of a loss to understand a few things though
Why do Americans want to watch Tiger Woods smash a course up? Once, maybe even twice, i can see the attraction of, as what you're wiitnessing is someone pushing new boundaries, but after that its boring without competition
Related to this, I don't understand your national concern for viewing figures (particularly the Ryder Cup) ahead of winning it. I've read this so many times now it can't be the deraanged bleating of one or two people out in the ether of cyberspace
Surely if you're successful, this drives viewing figures (unless of course you're British tennis fan) they turned out decade after decade
I think what we're likely to see is Mickelson and Tigers competitive careers finish more or less simultaneously despite Phil being older
Rory and Rickety are both a sight more engaging indviduals than Tiger ever will be, and Rickey in particular as a certain star appeal potential to him. I think Bubba is on the outside a bit, but that's no bad thing for the marketing boys to get stuck into. I think Dubuisson has the looks, the moody mystique, and the cavalier game to become a factor if he can find another 5% in his game. Jordan looks a little bit like the 'continuity Mickelson candidate'
I think the biggest threat going forward is America's failure to dominate the sport. Put simply American's are not particularly good losers, and if they can't win they'll turn away (as they have done in the sports I've already mentioned) or corrale themselves in domestic sports where they can generate all the hype they want and worship these false gods of qualified achievement. As the post Agassi/ Sampras period has shown, this can happen in just half of a generation
The point here is that international sport is harder to win at, as it should be, but the emtional rewards for doing so are much more enriching for doing so. Why do i say that? Well largely because we've invented and exported more sports than any single country on the planet. During their formative years we dominate them, but as other countries embrace them they start to bring their own expertise to bear. Ultimately we have to accept our place in the new world order, but even when things do settle down, there are still countries who will try doubly hard to beat us, as if it still means something. I think America and American golfers will always be in the global cross-hairs as the country that most others will want to take down, and that lends the game a lot by way of focus