Golf, The Olympics, and EtchicsSteve Sailer is spot-on right here and the NYT's ethicist looks like, well, what you would expect the NYT's ethicist to look like. As Sailer notes implicitly, all the 'ethicist' can think about is "Who? Whom?" and it makes his observations look very shallow compared to Sailer's two key points.
Of which one. Ethics? Give me a break!
Now, you might think that what would actually be most interesting from an ethical perspective about golf is that it's the most prominent sport in which players are required to referee themselves on the honor code. In 1984, I watched Arnold Palmer knock himself of contention on the next to last hole of the United States Senior Open by calling a penalty on himself that absolutely no one else saw or even could have seen. In sharp contrast, the culture of most other big time sports encourages players to cheat when the ref isn't looking.
The ethical issue for golf is whether it wants to lower itself to the level of the Olympics. I like the Olympics a lot, but their ethical history is a lot dodgier than golf's.
And the next point is one that has crossed my mind many times when thinking about what sports could have ONE interesting championship every four years.
As for golf in the Olympics overall, well, it's kind of silly. The Olympics are good for minor sports that aren't widely interesting enough to hold public attention without the Olympics. Adding Tiger Woods to the Olympics is just going to distract from obscure athletes' single shots at momentary fame. Moreover, golf is not the kind of sport like the 100m dash that's deterministic enough to make one gold medal every four years interesting. Too much luck is involved, even more than in, say, tennis. Thus, golf holds 16 major championships ever four years. Woods is by far the best golfer ever, but he's lost 38 of the 52 major championships held since he turned pro. So, the idea of one gold medal in golf every four years is just ho-hum dumb.
Making the Olympics the global amateur golf championship makes a fair amount of sense, although not from a business standpoint since it would just be a low-key event like the Walker Cup. Of course, "The Ethicist" would blow a gasket because amateur golfers tend to be The Wrong Kind of People.