Championship Golf and the China Thing
I understand perfectly that Stacy Lewis sent out some controversial stuff after getting edged out in the Reignwood by a spectacular last-hole shot this weekend. Yes, I know, she questioned the behavior of some camera-happy Chinese fans who forgot they weren’t at a soccer match while she was trying to concentrate. I know that the whole thing went strongly partisan as native daughter Shanshan Feng made her comeback, to the delight of a nation just getting started in the world of competitive golf.
This morning, however, I can say without hesitation that I woke up just as much of a Stacy Lewis fan as I have always been, and continued to be dismayed at what people will do to magnify a phrase or two, just because they have so little else going on in their day, love to watch car wrecks, and love to be offended. Ok, so self-righteousness is a lot of fun – admit it, we’ve all tried it.
Lewis deleted her Twitter account, but she certainly didn’t need to do it on MY account. I did not find her rude, I did not find her overly-aggressive, and I did not find her the least bit small when it came to Feng’s victory. She just had a rough day with the game, some fan treatment that she doesn’t usually encounter, and the sudden shock of losing a sure thing on one fortuitous shot by an awesome fellow golfer, who just happens to be Chinese, a national favorite – understandable, absolutely. It is still ok to express disappointment as we wander through this world – it is ok to question the behavior of others, whether we’re right or wrong, and it is still ok to have an opinion. The rest of us just need to up the bar for what starts a fire in our daily lives.
China is new at this, and I’m thrilled that they’re here. I’ve followed Shanshan Feng before, and find her one of the great champions of the modern women’s game – she’s good for it, and I share Stacy’s congratulations to her – or did we all notice that Stacy did, indeed, congratulate her in an authentic way? Well, she did, so cut it out.
“I feel like it was just taken from me” may not have been the best choice of words, but it sums up perfectly what a sudden reversal of fortunes feels like. “…frustrating day just with the crowds and dealing with all that” – makes sense. Lewis, unlike most weeks, was playing bad guy for the home crowd, and it’s probably not fun. “Between all the cameras and cheering when I missed putts” – this all brings up a question about manners in international events.
Codes of conduct vary between almost every country in the world. I can scream my head off at a football game, but I come from a British family, and would never do that at a golf tournament. Tell that to an Italian who sees sports as, well…sports, no matter which one it is. I’ve seen Norwegians applaud and stand for opponents who excelled at a certain moment – they certainly had favorites, but appreciated the game and knew that a higher-level opponent makes your win even better.
When they first brought opera to Las Vegas, the crowd left at intermission because they thought it was over. The next year, they stayed, but one or two asked where the popcorn and soda booths were. The third year, they were as with it as any New York crowd. Maybe the Chinese will do the same.
If the golf tours mean to impose behavioral standards on each country’s fans (good luck), fine, but the fans will find a way to reflect the feelings and degree of spontaneity that reflect that moment and their culture.
So, I’m sorry to see Stacy get cast as a villain – she’s not. I’ve been around her a little bit here and there, and find her friendly and authentic. She is persistent, though, and I hope she stays that way. She shouldn’t worry at all – next week they’ll be cheering her on again, and I’ll be in the front. As for China, it will be interesting to see if we produce our first generation of “golf hooligans” or if they mellow out. As for fans looking for something to fly into a tizzy about – get a life and lay off Stacy.