25 November 2005

Michelle Wie
Beats or ties FORTY Male Professional Golfers

If you glance around this morning, you'll find no shortage of the following headlines: 'Wie Misses Cut Again'. The message is direct and simple, though lengthy. It says: 1. Michelle Wie is a failure, 2. Wie chokes under pressure, 3. Women cannot beat men in sports, ever, full stop.

This sort of reporting captures both an essential misunderstanding of golf and an essential, distorted, and ultimately failed attempt to assert male superiority. First, when you miss the cut in golf it means you are just below average. Being .500 in baseball is considered pretty good. Wie was one shot away (and she missed 5 foot putts on the last two holes) from being above .500; instead, she was one shot below .500. This is not a failure. Before Tiger Woods, the top players in the world missed numerous cuts throughout the year; Phil Mickelson missed 5 this year (Tiger, two).

The headlines would all have us believe that Wie has once again proven that women can't beat men. But the headlines fail to mention how VERY close she was to making the cut: the SI story and many others FAIL TO MENTION WHAT THE CUT LINE WAS AT ALL!!!!!!. This is convenient for their framing, since it lets them say, simply 'she failed' but not to let us in on the actual facts of how close she was. Moreover, they also neglect to tell us this: 100 professional golfers played two rounds of golf; a 16 year old girl beat or tied 40 of those 99 other male, adult professional golfers. Hence my headline.

If you took every man in the world who plays golf, Michelle Wie would annhilate about 95% of them; she would consistently beat another 3% of them; she'd be close to the next 1%; and probably the top 1% of male golfers in the world would beat her consistently. Thus, the top 100 players in the entire world can rest easy, knowing that they would consistently beat the 16 year old girl.

But to EVERYONE else out there, to all of those reporters and bloggers producing the headlines about her failure, just keep this in mind, she may have missed the cut, but she would KICK YOUR ASS!

(Sincere apologies for repeated use of screaming all caps, but I really felt like screaming when I read these headlines.)


Ruth said...

a) I totally agree with you in essentials (although I realize this is one site where I probably don't have to worry about starting a flame war by not very clearly laying such things out ahead of time).

b) Isn't it a somewhat faulty analogy to compare Wie's middle-of-the-pack performance to a baseball "performance" of .500? I mean, I know next to nothing about sports, but I assume you're talking about a .500 batting average -- which is very much not "average" among players. Or am I missing something?

C) Don't you Brits have more important sporting news to follow -- like the George Best story? I'm surprised anything else made the papers. Or airwaves.

Sam said...

B. It's not a .500 batting average, it's a .500 winning percentate. (You're right, .500 batting average is NOT normal. But even winning half your games in baseball is considered pretty good.)

C. You're right. I confess I was reading American press. There was nothing but George Best coverage here, and I have to say it was well worth it. I knew he was important to football, but when you SEE the highlights - Michael Jordan is the ONLY comparison. Just unbelievable.

Ruth said...

Gotcha. I told you I was a sports ignoramous. Although I'm also a corporate sponsor of a small hockey team, which must count for something. I should be at a game tonight. But I'm lazy....

Anonymous said...

Michelle Wie is a HUGE failure. Annika Sorenstam was a MUCH better golfer and she had CLASS. Something very few women today have at all. Something Wie completely lacks.

Sorenstam tried playing with the men in her prime as well.

And she missed the cut too.

Playing WITH the men is one thing. Playing against them is another.

And so far no woman has even made the cut to play WITH them...let alone against them.