The Entertainment of Sports

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gender Struggles On the Green: Michelle Wie's Attempt to Play With the Boys

Michelle Wie’s recent performance in the Omega European Masters has acted as a catalyst for fans and critics to discuss the appropriateness of a woman’s participation in mens golf events. Not only did she miss the cut for the European Masters, but she also finished last in the tournament with a final score of 15 over. Many golfer’s and golf enthusiasts complain that Wie is not good enough and, therefore, should not compete with men. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell said about the tournament, "She had no chance round here. And I just don't think women can compete against the men." But even with this rough event and criticism, the 16 year old from Hawaii is not giving any signs that she is going to stop entering in men’s events. After her last round this Friday she told reporters, "My view is that to get better on the men's tour and to be a better player, I have to keep playing men's events.” For the well being of the sport of golf itself, Michelle Wie should continue playing, or at least trying to play, in men’s tournaments.

Michelle Wie’s participation in men’s events is critical to the future success of golf. Golf as a spectator sport cannot rest solely on the shoulders of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Dan Jenkins, writer from Golf For Women magazine, supports Wie’s decisions in his article, If You Let Her Play, stating, “Golf fans are hungering for something unique, different, intriguing.” A woman in a men’s tournament has proven to satiate the hungers of golf fans. Tournaments in which Michelle Wie plays, undeniably attract a larger audience. So why shouldn’t she be able to play in men’s tournaments? Many reply that Wie will take the place of a deserving young male player. Skill, not gender should determine an individual's right to play in an event. Additionally, people believe that she is just not strong enough as a golfer to compete with men. Prior to this year's tournament, George O'Grady, the European Tour chief executive, described women playing in men's event, a "gimmick." While it may have been a "gimmick," Michelle Wie's participation gained attention for the European Masters, and according to Sergio Garcia, the previous champion of the European Masters, "Anything that helps the game of golf is good, no matter what."

Those golfers who are enraged by a woman playing in a men’s tournament may soon feel relief if Wie continues to play poorly. No one is willing to subject him or herself to the embarrassment of being cut from every tournament. This Friday was Wie’s ninth cut of ten attempts to play in a men’s tournament. In addition to ruining her confidence, Wie will not receive the support of sponsors if she continues to lose. She returns to play against men this week in the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania. Her future involvement in men’s events greatly relies on her ability to play the game. So, until she can’t stand losing anymore or sponsors stop inviting her to tournaments, I say, you go girl.

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