Some thoughts on an interesting weekend in sports:

Over nearly a half century at the Times Herald, I’ve literally written hundreds of thousands of words about golf, virtually none from personal experience.

From when I first tried the game back in my teenage years, I was a lefthander of such profound incompetence that I gave up the sport by age 30 and the only time I picked up a club since was when the Castle Motel had its par-3 course which closed decades ago.

Still, I’ve enjoyed covering golf and learned volumes about it via interviews with many of the area’s best players dating to the 1970s.

And while I’m not a regular watcher of the pros on TV, I rarely miss telecasts of the four Majors or the Tournament Players Championship.

This past week’s British Open was a bit different.

Thanks to some lousy weather in Maine, I saw most of the first three rounds and what struck me was how so many Americans take for granted the quality of this country’s television.

Great Britain TV supplied the pictures and the quality was substandard compared to what we’re used to. There were way too many long shots that made it difficult to see the ball on the green, let alone the hole. It did some impressive things with slo-mo, but tracking a ball in flight, which U.S. television has perfected, was an exercise in futility over the four days at Royal St. George’s.

There was also one problem that was totally out of the hands of British TV. The greatest appeal of the Open has always been its near-annual foul weather. High winds and rain roaring off the ocean attacking the links courses had a way of making the world’s best ball-strikers look exceedingly human.

Instead, for four days at Sandwich, England, the weather was positively balmy by Great Britain standards and the scores showed it.

But here’s what made Sunday’s final round different for me.

It was driving home day and we left shortly after the leaders teed off.

No problem, I just tuned in to the broadcast on Sirius.

The announcers were British and those covering holes had a difficult time describing what they were seeing … using the same words over-and-over again, good shot or bad.

And because, at times, six players were in contention for the win, the anchors did a poor job of painting a word picture of the leaderboard.

Listening was an exercise in annoyance and frustration.

What they did well, though, was read tweets from around the world declaring what a great job they were doing.

I’m not on Twitter, but if I was, I surely wouldn’t have been one of them.

By the way, golf just isn’t a radio sport.

ARE YOU really surprised that Olympic athletes have already tested positive for the coronavirus?

And that doesn’t include those such as American tennis player Coco Gauff and Bradley Beal, a star for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, who tested positive before even getting to Tokyo.

The idea that Japan, dealing with an epidemic of a Covid-19 variant, is welcoming(?) over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries screams health disaster. Some 61 people associated with the Games — athletes, coaches and support staff — have tested positive.

Members of the host country’s Olympic Committee maintain that those in the Village are totally safe, but you wonder.

Positive tests are rising and all the participants haven’t yrt arrived with Opening Ceremonies set for Friday.

There are those who feel the Games should have been canceled and if the anticipated spread of the pandemic materializes, get ready for an avalanche of “I-told-you-sos.”

IT WASN’T a good Saturday night for Major League Baseball … going from stupid to scary.

In New York’s rain-shortened, 3-1 victory at Yankee Stadium, Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo tossed a ball to a young Red Sox fan between innings. But a Yanks’ supporter grabbed the ball and threw it back at Verdugo, hitting him in the neck.

Ushers quickly collared the culprit and, on Sunday, he was banned from attending a MLB game in person for life.

It was a terrific message, but you wonder how it can be forced.

That same night, two cars engaged in a shootout outside Nationals Park in Washington, wounding three including an innocent fan.

The shots were audible inside the stadium and created instant bedlam even as the public address announcer assured that the shooting was outside the stadium.

Small wonder why fewer and fewer people feel safe in major cities even at sporting events.

(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@oleantimesherald.com)

 

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