Chris Baldwin This Week at TravelGolf.com: September 13, 2005

Sports need to stop taking
credit for healing real-life tragedies

The best thing about the U.S. victory in the Solheim Cup wasn't Paula Creamer coming through in the clutch, LPGA legend Nancy Lopez surviving some questionable decisions or even Calendar Girl Natalie Gulbis showing she just might have some game to go with the glamour. No, the best part was how no one on the U.S. team tried to claim that their win uplifted the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

It surely was tempting to make the leap. For everyone in sports today wants to take credit for speeding the healing of a real-life tragedy. Only the Solheim winners showed some restraint. If this is Nancy Lopez's doing, she deserves to stay on as captain no matter how many times she insists on sticking a grumpy, washed-up Beth Daniel on the squad.

For everywhere else in sports, there were games being turned into Hurricane inspirational stories. If you watched any NFL on Sunday, you were hit with how the New Orleans Saints beat the favored (and let's face it, grossly overrated) Carolina Panthers for the Katrina survivors. Like someone sitting in a shelter in Houston or on their roof in the Gulf Coast is going, "Hell, I lost it all, but it looks like (Saints coach) Jim Haslett might have a chance to keep his high-dollar job another year! You know, I suddenly feel better!"

Sports as a salve for tragedy is one of the most overblown hype creations of the modern media age. Sports might be a distraction from real-life tragedy, but the people who are distracted are usually the ones not actually affected by the tragedy at all. If you lost someone important to you, games tend to lose all meaning.

Thankfully, the powers that be of women's golf seem to realize this. While the NFL turns Hurricane Katrina into an upcoming special weekend, one that promises to be about promoting the NFL as much as anything, Solheim Cup organizers just went about quietly trying to do the important thing. Raising money. They sold an extra 3,000 tickets to benefit Katrina relief and left it at that. Paula Creamer wasn't running around with the flag, declaring she'd helped heal a nation by dominating a golf match.

Women's golf in general and the Solheim Cup in particular are, of course, much lower profile than the NFL. Sometimes that's part of the charm of golf. Anyone who actually lived in New York after 9-11 knew how ridiculous the notion was that the Yankees' World Series run helped heal the city. More than half the baseball fans in the city utterly despise the Yankees (Mets fans and transplants tend to come together on this point).

When it comes to real-life pain, sports isn't even in the picture. At least golf understands that.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.



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