I saw this story four days ago, and talked myself out of posting about it because I decided there had to be something I was missing and I didn’t feel like spending time researching pro golf, since I find golf so boring.But I couldn’t help myself, and kept reading articles, and now I’m convinced. This was wrong. And it was nuts. (Yeah, I’m pretty sick of the “Madness!” clip from the last seconds of “The Bridge Over The River Kwai” too—that’s James Donald, incidentally. I’m more sick of the apparently endless stream of incidents in The Great Stupid that prompt it.)
Golf pro Jon Rahm crushing the field in the PGA’s Memorial Tournament; indeed, he was on the way to a possible course record He had a six-stroke lead, and was 18 under par. Only golf legend Ben Hogan has done as well on that course in the tournament’s history. I had never heard of Rahm (though I will now know him as “that poor bastard), but he’s apparently the #3 ranked golfer in the world. That rating would have risen, and as would his bank account, when he won the nearly 1.7 million dollar prize money.
Right in the end of a round, however, on international TV, Rahm was told that he had been disqualified. The tournament’s medical adviser walked up to himafter he had played his final shot and gave him the news that he had tested positive for the Wuhan virus. Rahm had been undergoing daily tests after discovering before the tournament that he had come into close contact with someone who had tested positive. Each of his previous tests had come back negative, but the positive test, once it was verified, was viewed as disqualifying. He took it, well, like a prole and a devotee of Vox. He tweeted,
“I’m very disappointed in having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament. This is one of those things that happens in life, one of those moments where how we respond to a setback defines us as people. I’m very thankful that my family and I are all OK. I will take all of the necessary precautions to be safe and healthy, and I look forward to returning to the golf course as soon as possible.”
I might have defined myself by tweeting (if I hadn’t banned Twitter from my life),
“This decision by the tournament is hysterical and unjustified. There is no logical or medical reason why I should not be allowed to complete the tournament. I have breached no rules, I feel fine, and safety precautions for everyone else, including spectators, are easily implemented. The decision to remove me from the tournament is a betrayal of golf’s fans and cruel punishment for me, when I have done nothing wrong.”
I assumed some document that Rahm had committed to allowed this to happen; I hope so, because it he hadn’t agreed in advance, he would be a fool to accept his disqualification (and the loss of 1.7 million dollars he was on the way to winning.) That document was, I assume, the “PGA’s Tour Covid’s Health and Safety Plan, which I bet hadn’t been review or updated. Maybe they ran it by Dr. Fauci, who checked with China or flipped a coin. The PGA’s statement:
Oh, well that’s OK then, since the PGA has only inflicted their pandemic panic rules once.
Golf is played outside. Keeping everyone a safe distance from him would have been easy. He posed no realistic danger to anyone. His caddy, if he hadn’t been vaccinated, could have laid Rahm’s clubs in the grass, or the golfer could have carried his own bag. His two playing partners, who had both previously had the virus, said they weren’t concerned. There was no reason not to allow him to finish.
I’m beginning to think that the pandemic has inflicted a sort of closed head injury on much of society, leading to confusion and decisions that are irrational. One amazing feature of this example is that there was almost no sports commentary in which a sportswriter reacted, “Wait, what? That’s ridiculous!” Nor can I find a sports ethicist who reacted, “Wait, what? That’s incompetent, unfair, irresponsible and gratuitously cruel!”
But it was.