Vinay YerramsettiMonday, May 15, 2023
Over the past year, the sport of golf has made headlines because of the emergence of a brand-new professional league called “LIV.” LIV, which means 54 in roman numerals, refers to the number of total holes that are played at each event. Professional tour events, such as those on the PGA tour, typically have a total of 72 holes broken into four rounds of 18 holes, but LIV is not afraid to show the sports world that they are different. Along with the reduced number of holes, LIV also features many other differences, such as having team competitions, playing loud music during the tournament, hosting a winner’s party, and having shotgun starts. A shotgun start is when every player in the field starts at the exact same time on their designated hole. While all these unique traditions sound like a way to make golf more appealing, many speculate that LIV also has some controversial motives in mind. LIV, which is financed by a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, is reportedly connected to the Saudi Arabian monarchy, which has been widely criticized for corruption and human rights abuses.
Many journalists believe the Saudi government is using a new sports movement agenda to polish their public image. Recently, Christiano Ronaldo signed to play for Al Nassr, a Saudi Arabian soccer club, for approximately $200 million a season. The deal is supposed to last for two and a half seasons, so Ronaldo is predicted to earn around $500 million from Al Nassr.
While most professional golfers were not offered nearly as much as Ronaldo, they were still offered absurd amounts of money. Golf legend and hall of famer Phil Mickelson was given around $200 million for joining LIV. Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka was offered around $100 million. Although he didn't accept it, LIV's highest offer was for Tiger Woods: reportedly around $800 million dollars. Because of Saudi Arabia's reputation, many players like Tiger decided to stay on the PGA Tour to avoid damaging their reputation and legacy. When a player signs the contract to join LIV golf, they are not allowed to participate in any PGA Tour tournaments, DP World Tour tournaments, and many other events. LIV players were also originally banned from competing in major championships, but that policy was later changed to allow the better-ranked members to participate via their world ranking.
While LIV golf events may sound fun to go to in person, many observers thought that their broadcasting was horrendous. In most of 2022, LIV golf was solely televised on YouTube live, due to major networks' refusal to support the tour. In the beginning of 2023, LIV finally closed a broadcasting deal with CW, a major American broadcasting network. While LIV has had many ups and downs in the past year, it looks like most of the drama has cooled down. But the future of this controversial league is anyone's guess.
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