John McEnroe opened his mouth again. Yep, he said something “salacious”! He said something “controversial”! He said something…
This week, the famed tennis player of yesteryear told NPR (while on a book-promotion tour) that, GASP, current female tennis superstar Serena Williams is the best female tennis player in the world.
Oh. No. He. Didn’t.
The interviewer asked him why he qualified his statement by saying best "female".
His answer was, again, honest.
Is there something disrespectful about that?
Men and women are different. Can we please stop pretending that they are the same?
This discussion is SOLELY meant to be had in the realm of a sports conversation. This is in no way meant to demean women as people, citizens of any nation or downgrade their ability to contribute to society just as well, if not better, then any man.
But, in the sports world, it’s not a fair fight. Men are superior athletes than women. There really is no denying nor debating that.
That does not mean that women are not good athletes. As McEnroe stated, Serena is a phenomenal athlete – probably the best female athlete on the planet, on or off the tennis court. Surely there are outstanding female athletes all over the world who are incredible at what they do.
My stance is this: at the highest levels of sports, women don’t measure up to men…
AND THAT’S OKAY.
God made men to be the bigger, stronger sex. They are. Women don’t run as fast. They don’t jump as high. They don’t lift as much.
AND THAT’S OKAY.
Anyone upset about McEnroe’s words, or mine, just haven’t examined the evidence.
How about running? Usain Bolt owns the world record for fastest 100 meter dash at 9.58 seconds. The women’s record holder? Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49. Nearly a second slower and, per this site I found, a time that wouldn’t even crack the top-2,600+ top men’s times ever.
Weightlifting? Men’s record holder is Wu Jingbiao’s 306 lb snatch. Yang Liau snatched 216.05 lbs to earn the women’s record.
Even in sports like golf, which is designed with handicaps and varied tee box distances to even the playing field as much as possible, the average distance off the tee is absurdly skewed. Dustin Johnson averages over 312 yards with the driver. Joanna Klatten averages 280 yards off the teen on the LPGA Tour – a mark that would edge Carl Pettersson for 174th in the men’s game. Yes, there are other factors to playing good golf besides driving, but this is a big difference.
I heard a debate on the radio about women’s basketball players and how they’d stack up in the NBA. Umm.. they wouldn’t. Not even a bit. They’d simply be too small, slow and grounded (no dunking) to compete.
Like golf, tennis is a game for individuals. Could Williams beat McEnroe? Today? Yes. He’s older now and she still in peak physical condition. Back in his prime? No, she couldn’t. Samuel Groth is ranked No. 139 in the world but holds the fastest men’s serve ever – 163.7 mph. Serena’s fastest? 128.3 mph. The fastest women’s serve ever was 131 mph.
It’s not a slight to say that women couldn’t compete with men at the highest level of sports. McEnroe isn’t saying anything controversial this time. He's even said things like this in the past!
Anyone who is upset by his words is simply trying to make a controversy out of nothing.
All good things must come to an end, right? Unless you’re talking about marriage, the answer is yes.
Phil Mickelson and the caddie best-known as “Bones” have split. No worries. It was mutual and there are no hard feelings. This duo had a VERY impressive run in an age where golfer-caddie relationships sometimes sour before the milk in your fridge.
Lefty and Bones, whose real name is Jim Mackay, began their partnership just before the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. They did not get to partake in this year’s U.S. Open (won by WHO?). It’s about the only tournament the duo DIDN’T win together.
Of Phil’s 42 Tour wins, Bones was on the bag for 41. They only ‘W’ Bones missed? A 1991 Mickelson win, when he was still just an amateur golfer.
It’s the end of an era. It likely won’t be matched again.
Here are some of the career highlights for the duo over the past 25 years on Tour:
Brooks Koepka wins the 117th U.S. Open, played June 15-18 at Erin Hills. Photo: sportsbuzzbusiness
Golf isn’t going to make it with this bunch of no-namers.
Don’t get me wrong. I know who Brooks Koepka is. I know of Brian Harman and Patrick Reed. The casual golf fan doesn’t. They know Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Ask they about Tommy Fleetwood and you’ll be met with an immediate, “Who?”.
That’s why, I say, golf needs a shot of adrenaline to keep up with our tiny 140-character attention spans, these days. No disrespect to guys like Charlie Hoffman. It’s just that, most sports fans couldn’t pick you out of a 3-man lineup.
Even Hideki Matsuyama, the soon-to-be No. 2 ranked player in the world, is largely anonymous unless you carry multiple Pro-V1s in your lunchbox, you know… just in case.
So, on Sunday at the U.S. Open, the most memorable thing about the nation's top annual tournament was announcer Joe Buck butchering the name of the champion’s girlfriend (which I say, is no big deal). Oh, Twitter reacted to that. They just didn’t WATCH the tournament.
Brooks Koepka tied Rory McIlroy's (who missed the cut) record for the lowest score by a U.S. Open champion and become the seventh straight first-time major winner.
That is NOT good for golf.
The ratings bear it out. The final round, (granted it was Father’s Day and people may have been out doing other things besides watching golf on TV) only got a 3.6 rating nationwide. That’s the second-smallest ever. At least it beat this.
You know why the ratings were so low? The top-3 ranked players in the world missed the cut, and none were ever really that close to the weekend. Nope, No Dustin Johnson, McIlroy or Jason Day. Jordan Spieth, America’s golfing heartthrob from two years ago, has faded away when it counts lately. He started the year red hot. The last three months he’s averaging 71ish on the scorecard. He was tied for 11th at the Masters. He missed the cut at The Players and was done golfing at this weekend's U.S. Open before most of us finished our Father’s Day hot dog lunches. I'm sure Under Armour loved that.
Die-hards, like me, watched every swing. Casual fans, like most everyone else, were turned off by many different factors. The main one? No brand names on TV to keep you interested.
As popular as Rickie Fowler is, even he wasn’t enough to keep people watching. When the "best to never win a major" star began to fade off the pace, FOX, naturally, decided not to show as many of his shots. Why? He had no chance to win. The problem with that? It didn't give many people reason to watch.
That left viewers with the combination of names like Harman, Koepka and Fleetwood to keep their interests peaked.
Hence the tiny TV numbers.
I was cruising around town today and flipped on the local sports talk show. I don’t listen to it much these days but stayed with it for a few minutes upon hearing them discuss the U.S. Open. Here’s how the :90 of coverage sounded:
“Harman? That’s not going to do it for me.”
“Between idiots yelling at the TV and a bunch of names I didn’t know, I couldn’t watch for more than three or four minutes at a time. Sorry I just couldn’t!”
“Fleetwood? Who are these guys? That’s why golf’s in trouble, man.”
Can you blame them?
The most damning line of the back and forth between the two radio hosts was when one guy mispronounced Koepka’s last name. If you don’t know how to SAY a major champion’s name, clearly you didn't give a rip about the event.
It’s not like this string of 7-straight newbie winners in majors are stiffs. Each of them was ranked as a Top-50 player in the world when they hoisted the trophy.
But, they were, mostly, no-namers. If you’re trying to compete for the attention of an already crowded sports viewing landscape littered with shorter attention spans than ever, you’d better gives those fleeting few something better than Xander Schauffele.
Step your game up, stars.
By the way, I think Paul Azinger did a nice job as color analyst. Well done, Zinger.
PHIL MICKELSON IS SKIPPING THE UPCOMING U.S. OPEN
Nope. He won't be there.
And you know what? It’s going to be okay.
Shame on you for bad-mouthing Phil Mickelson for choosing, what I’m sure was not a snap decision, to skip the upcoming U.S. Open at Erin Hills to attend his daughter’s high school commencement.
It’s not just any old commencement, either. She’s presenting a speech to her fellow graduates.
He’s supposed to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for … ANOTHER golf tournament?
I know. I can hear you, lunatic golf fans.
“BUT IT’S A MAJOR!”
“HE’S NEVER WON A U.S. OPEN!”
“DOES HE EVEN CARE?”
Apparently, not as much as you do. He even told the Golf Channel it "wasn't a hard decision".
"I love the (U.S.) Open, but this is a special moment for us," Mickelson said. "I mean, my daughter's speaking, she's giving the speech there at graduation. It's just one of those things, you need to be there. So it wasn't a hard decision at all."
Some dopes out there had the audacity to start at online petition to get Phil’s daughter’s school to change the date and time of the commencement ceremonies so they (selfishly) could watch Lefty hit a few 7-irons around Erin Hills. He’s played in two-decades worth of U.S. Opens. You can’t give him one year off?
Yes, I love watching Phil, too. He’s one of the game’s most iconic characters, recognizable faces and easy-to-cheer-for players. But, come on…
Let the man be with his family. It’s the right decision, by the way.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images