Olympic Games trump golf

by Amy Kingsley

The Wyndham Championship, nee Greater Greensboro Open, unfurled itself along the lush green of Sedgefield Country Club last week, dangling uniformed cops like tassels all along the lower reaches of High Point Road. The security detail slowed traffic to a crawl in places, which was a pain. But it wasn’t the only beef I’ve got with Greensboro’s signature PGA event. I’m just going to lay it out: I wish the golf tournament had stayed relegated to the remote corner of the county that chose to reinvent itself as Forest Oaks Country Club 40-odd years ago. If it had, then I could’ve avoided not only the gauntlet of cops, but also the daily barrage of fawning media coverage of this sport that spawned the visor. My other complaint concerns those greens, the ones so lovingly tended in the weeks preceding Greensboro’s turn in the spotlight. Surely they haven’t been subject to the same water restrictions as the rest of us — the restrictions designed to preserve our drinking supply in the face of withering drought. My personal protest of the Wyndham involved spurning the drink tickets, buffet passes and VIP tags available to YES! Weekly employees and instead exposing myself to as much coverage of the summer Olympic games as I could wedge between workdays. Pretty weak protest, right? Well at least the Water Cube doesn’t draw any wet stuff from Lake Townsend. So I watched, with a clear conscience, as Michael Phelps paddled his way into Olympic history. Sure the Chinese hosts have a few things to answer for: their abysmal environmental record, human rights abuses and flagrant use of underage gymnasts. The latter is the least of China’s sins for sure, but that hasn’t kept the vaunted American press from unleashing its attack dogs. ABC News summoned a forensics expert who marshaled digital models and pencil sketches in defense of her thesis that the Chinese gymnasts were, in fact, too young to be competing in the Olympics. Former Olympic champion Dominique Dawes offered the observation that all Chinese gymnasts look young, especially in their street clothes, when they are practically dwarfed by their backpacks. I’ve been dealing with a touch of the insomnia lately. Nothing big, just the kind of sleep disruptions that happen when major life changes loom. That means I was able to watch in real time as the pre pubescent Chinese spun falsified passports into Olympic gold. The vision of their innocent faces beaming from the top of the podium sent the Western media into such a frenzy that it practically wiped all criticism of air pollution and human rights off the agenda. It’s hard for me personally to attach the words “cheater” and “tainted” to a smiling squad of leotard-clad children. The announcers, however, had fewer qualms about implying that the all-around finals were rigged. One even paused during a rotation change to say that even though the games were being held in China, there were not, in fact, more Chinese judges on the panel. This was after the judges delivered several shockingly low scores in the women’s all-around competition. By the way, the Americans took gold and silver in that particular competition. Swimming has also been good to America this year, but it’s never been my favorite Olympic sport, mostly because it’s hard to get a good look at what’s happening under all that water and foam. But this year’s games have seen some of the best races in the history of the sport, with athletes in new, high tech swimsuits smashing world records like fortune cookies. Then there’s Dara Torres, the 41-year-old American sprint swimmer and silver medalist who might yet inspire some athletic ambition in me as I pitch headlong toward my thirties.

Ifound all of this infinitely more fascinating than the scene that wentdown at Sedgefield. I suggest that the principals behind the golftourney spend the next several years putting their energy into bringingOlympic fanfare to Greensboro. I know it’s a longshot, but what thehell. If Greensboro wants to be a world-class city, we gotta do whatthe world-class cities do. And maybe that’s what GreensboroCity Councilman Mike Barber was after when he strong-armed a swimcenter bond onto the November ballot. Barber is a big fan of the golftournament, and maybe he’s just looking to make a grab at the fivemulticolored brass rings of sport. After all, Greensboro maynot have the kind of architectural wonders that mark Beijing, but atleast we know how to read a birth certificate.

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