Go for the gold

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Brilliant sport, awesome athletes.

Before the armchair athlete, golf-isn't-a-sport types run to their keyboards to begin their latest rant, let's clarify that those are the words of Alison Korn, who unleashed a rant of her own in her Toronto Sun column on Friday.

Korn's opinion is that a brilliant sport with awesome athletes has no place at the Olympics, an event rife with politics and generally perceived as being driven by dollars and no sense.

Korn's argument has no dollars and no sense as she takes politics to the opposite extreme, saying that golf has so much going for it already that it should be denied access to the Olympics.

In other words, deny somebody like Mike Weir the opportunity to represent his country because his game has global appeal and instead go with something like women's softball, which has been canned as an Olympic sport likely because of its lack of mass appeal and ability to rivet the people of Katmandu.

Korn is concerned that the inclusion of golf might come at the expense of women's sports, but she might want to look up the names Alena Sharp, Lorie Kane, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, or take a trip to South Korea to see how women's golf has become a fascination there.

Her main argument, however, is that lower-profile sports need a global stage on which to exhibit their best and force-feed the world a helping of something it doesn't necessarily want.

Korn's argument is an old, tired one, not unlike the college badminton team complaining about the funding the football team gets, even if it is football that is generating those funds in the first place through its fan appeal.

She quickly brushes the fact that her argument about golf and professional athletes competing in the Olympics could just as easily be used against hockey, which just isn't done in this country.

It's here that her argument gets confusing. Is her main beef about golf, or more to do with pros playing in what used to be an amateur extravaganza?

It may be tough to get past Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson when talking golf, but they are the exception, not the rule and there are plenty of struggling, young pros out there or amateurs who just play the game for free. If Korn's argument is indeed against golf, then she would deny any golfer the opportunity to compete.

I suspect what's poking her is pros taking part in the Olympics and fans love it, she admits, in the cases of hockey and basketball. In her mind, fan appeal is apparently a bad thing when it comes to those games and should be directed to the lesser-known sports because the Olympics is their only chance to shine.

There's a reason for that. Either the low-profile sports have little spectator interest overall or appeal to just a certain region of the world.

Personally, I could care less if golf were an Olympic sport. Give me the Masters or the British Open any time, but having said that, I support any golfer's desire to represent his or her country at the Olympics, which shouldn't be denied because their sport of choice is successful and has global appeal.

Golf is applying within the parameters set for all sports, so no, it won't back off.

RCGA KEEPS CUTTING

It was finances, not ability, that led to the departure of a couple of key Royal Canadian Golf Association veterans last week.

Gone are managing director of communications and government relations Teri Yamada, who had been at the RCGA for 18 years, and managing director of member services Paul MacDonald, who had been there 15 years. Three other administrative positions also were cut.

The RCGA has trimmed 14 positions since the beginning of 2007, a reduction of about 20%, which fits into a promise by Scott Simmons when he took over as executive director last year and again in announcing the RCGA's strategic plan earlier this year to make the association more financially viable.

Don't expect the RCGA's cuts to end here.


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