Why don't other sports have caddies?

Why don't other sports have caddies?
Jordan Spieth and his caddie Michael Greller

And so to golf.

Come back, come back. Michael hasn’t been kidnapped; he isn’t being held against his will. Nor has he been included in a remake, or re-remake, of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

I want to chat about golf. Genuinely.

Last week at the US Open one of the players, Jordan Spieth, made a mess of a couple of shots, and was caught by a microphone on the course complaining to his caddy, Michael Greller.

“Two perfect shots, Michael,” Spieth said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.”

Later on, Spieth tried to restore his reputation with this explanation. “When you hit a couple of shots exactly where you want and one’s in the water and the next one’s dead over the green, I’m going to be frustrated that as a team we didn’t figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen.

“I may have looked like the bad guy, but my intentions were that we should be in play if the ball is hit solidly.”

All of which reminds me of the old Weetabix TV ad from the eighties, which featured the Lone Ranger and Tonto facing impossible odds together until Tonto says, “What’s this ‘we’ business, paleface?”

This is not my launchpad for a meandering screed poking fun at golf - today, anyway - but it does raise an interesting question. Why don’t other sports have caddies?

Having a chap toddle alongside the main participants would be a big help in a lot of arenas.

A free-taker in an All-Ireland hurling final could do with someone to bounce ideas off, not to mention a spare pair of hands to carry whatever hurleys are needed, depending on the circumstances (“I’d go for the one without the brace for this one, it’s better in the wet”).

I’m quite sure Jonathan Sexton would appreciate a wingman when he’s lining up a difficult conversion from the sidelines of Cardiff or Twickenham, maybe a chap in overalls and a large bag, carrying a pair of special kicking-from-the-wing boots.

Go further. Katie Taylor had a narrow enough win over Delfine Person recently to win the world lightweight boxing title: how much easier would it have been to have someone on-hand - right next to her, in fact - to whisper better options in her ear when the fight entered the closing stages?

This, of course, is where the problems begin with the Caddies For All movement. A boxing ring can be a tight environment for two contestants and a referee: if you have two more support staff ducking and diving in there, each shadowing a boxer and offering a change of gloves or footwear whenever they can, how much space is left for the actual fight?

Take it even further. If the contestants are entitled to a caddy, why not the referee? 

And if a boxing referee can have a caddy, why not officials in other sports, advising on the right whistle to use, the appropriate hand gesture to deploy, how authoritative the strut upfield should be?

For a team sport, the ramifications are even more apocalyptic. Crowds of players and caddies milling around on fields, walking across each other’s paths, bumping into one another when the play is stopped - what kind of mob scene will we be treated to when the game actually continues?

I think we’ll have to halt our flight of fantasy here, because if participants in all sports are entitled to have a caddies, inevitably those caddies will realise they’re being blackguarded with an unfair share of the workload and yes, they’ll agitate for their own caddies.

Which will mark the point at which all sports become unfeasible, as the playing areas become overrun with caddies, and caddies’ caddies, and the caddies of those caddies’ caddies...

You can thank me later. For now, I just have to pull a Jordan Spieth and blame my own caddy sitting on the desk here. Because I may have looked like the bad guy, but my intention was that we should be in play if this column is written solidly.

Publish and be damned with fact checking

I gave a few summer reads here last week — thanks to those who got in touch.

An observation this week instead of a recommendation. 

Naomi Wolf’s new book Outrages was the subject of a BBC radio interview during which presenter Matthew Sweet pointed out, on air, that she had misunderstood a legal term completely, believing dozens of men had been executed when in actual fact they had been paroled.

I was interested to see a rationalisation for Wolf’s US publisher not fact-checking the book: that the book author is his or her own brand, and thus responsible for the facts, compared to a newspaper writer, where the newspaper’s brand takes precedence. It’s plausible. 

After all, you’d refer to Naomi Wolf’s book (not to whoever the publisher is), while you’d probably refer to what you read in this morning’s Irish Examiner.

Not my name. Sniff.

Jackson saga has not run its course

So Diageo decided to end their sponsorship of London Irish because the club signed Paddy Jackson.

Some people have decided to relitigate Jackson’s rape trial as a result of the news. Some have seized upon the Diageo statement, particularly the wording that Jackson’s signing wasn’t consistent with the company’s values. 

Why don't other sports have caddies?

Some have wondered what it means for sports and sponsorship arrangements going forward. And so on.

Some random thoughts. 

Did Diageo need to issue a statement in the first place? The company made a decision, end of story; in the modern world we know that such decisions are usually explained, and often at great length. But why get into the rationale behind it?

As for the decision, and the urge to equate Diageo’s move with hypocrisy because it sells drinks . . . where’s the equation, exactly? 

If hypocrisy was a genuine concern, shouldn’t the relationship of a drinks company and a sports team be the first item on the agenda rather than an issue after the fact? And where does that stop, anyway? Where’s the company of such ethical purity that nobody can find fault with the provenance of its funds?

As for Jackson himself, and the much-trumpeted verdict in the rape trial, the notorious WhatsApp messages, the ‘innocent in a court of law’ argument . . . the thought-experiment is a simple one.

Would you care to see Paddy Jackson in your team’s colours?

Assistance is required to return old medal

During the week the sports desk received a mail regarding a matter which Cork readers in particular may be able to help with. 

“I would like some help,” the mail reads, “to return an old football medal to the family of a C. Neenan from a winning team called Lees in 1923. 

The medal was found by my father some years back and was forgotten about until my mother recently came across it. 

We understand St Finbarr’s club is at a Neenan Park in Cork and hope to contact a relative and return it to them.” If you can help, drop a mail.

michael.moynihan@examiner.ie.

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