“Obvious lies serve a purpose for an administration,” wrote Garry Kasparov, the chess great and courageous critic of Vladimir Putin. “They watch who challenges them and who loyally repeats them. The people must watch, too.”
We are entering a week in which golf fans will be inundated with obvious lies from the Saudi International, peddled by players exhibiting all the sincerity of $20 hustlers trying to say it like they mean it.
“I’m trying to grow the game.”
“They are trying to change here.”
“I’m just here to play golf.”
“I want to compete against the best.”
“I’m not a politician.”
The ashamed might at least look uneasy in their prevarications. The shameless will be all thumbs-up and duplicitous grins. And everyone will depart the Kingdom richer, but only in cash terms. This effort to launder the Saudi regime’s grotesque reputation will soil that of many others.
The silence that greeted the Ladies European Tour playing in Saudi Arabia this week—at least relative to the censure faced by men who do the same—reflects two realities: the inattention given women’s golf in general and the LET in particular, and the principle that everyone bails water on a sinking ship.
Since it took the Saudis almost 10 years to sign a player to their global golf ambitions, we might have expected someone more compelling than a 66-year-old retiree a quarter-century beyond his prime, whose unquenchable thirst for relevance has been laid (literally) bare-arsed on social media with an undignified frequency.
The function of agents and managers is largely dictated by their clients. For some, the job is about maximizing sponsorship opportunities. For others, it’s little more than a glorified travel agent. But whatever the varying demands, every management team shares – or ought to share – one basic responsibility: protect the client, sometimes from themselves.
If they succeed in keeping clients out of situations that could make them look like fools or jerks – even if they’re both – their most valuable work goes unseen. Fail and the world notices.
There have surely been lots of those unseen successes in golf this year, but the glaring failures have been plentiful too.