When the Masters and culture collide

Well the Masters has officially come and gone. The cheers are done reverberating off the Georgia pines, Magnolia Lane has stopped bustling, and the good old green jacket has another set of shoulder dimensions to adhere to. It was a truly engaging tournament this year, by any professional athletic standards. Eight different players had a sample of the lead, 21- and 23-year-old phenoms Rory McIlroy and Jason Day dominated the leader board — the former crashing out in spectacular, heart-string pulling, gut-bolt wrenching style — and Tiger, hell, looked and, more importantly, played a lot like the pre-Uchitel Tiger we all knew and revered. And yet the PGA Tour is dying on its feet. As a golf fan I know it, generalized sports fans know it, and you better damn well believe Tim Finchem, the Tour’s long time commissioner knows it. Having a competitive Tiger back would help, while finding a new, young, brash, sickly talented Phil Mickleson-esque wild card (like Rory McIlroy) to market would seem like a gold-wrapped gift from the ever-majestic golf gods. Unfortunately, similar in ineptitude to the NHL’s attempted Crosby vs. Ovechkin revival, even these things won’t save golf because golf refuses to kneel down and get a little dirty, and in a world of eager-eyed sadists just waiting for anything to smear some mud or, contextually speaking wet-bunker sand, all over its face, this straight-laced attitude seems more like a eulogy than a modus operandi.

We should first approach this in terms of other sports, of course, but it needs to first be said that what society demands from its athletes, beyond athletic performance, is very similar to what we, being normal civilians have begun to demand from each other. The NFL’s popularity has taken off like the bubonic plague in a rat-infested 14th century Germanic village. Why? Because Plaxico Buress can’t remember to put his safety on, because Roethlisberger is still being fat, dumb, and horny, and because Lawrence Taylor’s recent woopsies have begun to make Mike Tyson’s early-’90s coke-fueled exploits look comparatively PG-13. What about Nascar? It has become one of the fastest growing sports in America, despite an ever-perpetuating fuel crisis, and why?

Because every time these guys pull onto to the track their lives are put seriously in jeopardy. At 200 miles per hour everyone, even the crowd, is at risk of falling victim to a flying ball of flaming steel set to soundtrack equal parts Pantera, Megadeth, and Metallica. Not to mention watching Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch throw on track haymakers after a turn three dust-up never gets old… especially if Danica Patrick gets involved, though I will admit that then becomes an entirely new, 18-plus medium of entertainment.

The real issue here, however, and despite the front half of this article’s preoccupation, has very little to do with sports. The real issue here is that you, America, myself entirely indicted, are a bunch of sick (insert appropriately degrading expletive-noun of choice here). It is an unfortunate and growing reality but it cannot be denied: What interests us is what blows up, takes off its clothes, dates a C-grade porn star, and carries around assault rifles in a guitar case. Though our society’s more intellectual properties pride themselves on being ahead of the curve and beyond the fray, even they are susceptible to the pop-apocalypse interests of our contemporary society.

No, no you say. I am a responsible citizen. I read, drive a hybrid, chaperone my middle schooler’s field trips, and consistently vote upon an educated and prudent platform. Good for you, I say, that means you are immersing yourself in, and attempting to support, one of the most twisted, debauched, and downright terrifying worldly entities this side of a Tim Burton sex-tape: the United States Government. Simply put, we are all guilty, we are all, occasionally, pulled into the whirlwind of our Jerry Bruckheimer directed society and once there it is awful difficult to claw ones way back out (without a couple of well tossed hand grenades, a stretch Hummer full of double D’s, and a quality, CG-assisted car chase, of course, and therein lies a troubling contradiction).

Now I understand that these contentions seem somewhat bleak and I will concede that not all of our contemporary cultural interests are of the sadistically mutated variety. Most of the time, however, whether it be a matter of instant gratification entertainment or simply due to the everywhere accessibility of the perezhilton.coms, YouTube failblogs, and Kardashian tabloid covers (I can literally feel brain cells packing up and heading for the metaphorical hills just writing this) our interests, how we spend our time, inevitably and organically devolve. This is not to suggest, of course, that golf, or humanity, won’t survive. They will. As will Jesus, Allah, Bono, the Nobel Peace Prize, and decent, intelligent human existence everywhere. This is just a gentle reminder — as Augusta National was for me this past weekend — that we, as a culture of sadists, masochists, egotists, and nihilists, have really begun to suck.


Coleman Bentley can be contacted at


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