Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sports Illustrated writer gets Michelle Wie disqualified

Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Bamberger inserted himself into the story he was covering on Sunday and told LPGA Tour officials at the Samsung World Championship that he thought golfer Michelle Wie had taken a bad drop on the seventh hole in Saturday's third round.

Here's the account from the Associated Press:

Michael Bamberger, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, told tour officials Sunday afternoon that he was concerned about the drop. Rules officials Jim Haley and Robert O. Smith reviewed tape from NBC Sports before taking Wie and caddie Greg Johnston to the seventh green after the tournament ended Sunday.

"If I had to make the ruling based on the videotape, to me it was inconclusive," Smith said.

He had Johnston and Wie show him where the ball was in the bushes, then where they dropped. They paced it off, then used string to measure the distance and determined it to be slightly closer.

"The Rules of Golf are based on facts," Smith said. "They had to tell us where it was. The fact was, the ball was closer to the hole by 12 to 15 inches."

LPGA Tour officials didn't notice any problem with the drop at the time, but Bamberger asked Wie about it after her round on Saturday. Wie explained how she had measured the distances to make sure she wasn't dropping the ball closer to the hole.

And then Bamberger crossed the line. He went to the LPGA Tour officials on Sunday and told them he had concerns about the drop.

He couldn't report that LPGA Tour officials had concerns about the drop, because they didn't. He couldn't report that rival golfers had concerns about the drop, because they didn't.

He had concerns about the drop.

Even Howard Cosell never tried to walk onto the field of play and correct the officials.

Why would a reporter step into the story and make himself part of it?

My money's on envy.

Michelle Wie is a beautiful, talented, phenomenal success. She plays the game of golf at a level beyond the dreams of men who have spent decades of weekends on the course. She will soon make more money in a day than most people make in a year. Michelle Wie is sixteen years old.

Maybe Michael Bamberger can't stand it. Maybe those feelings are shared by a lot of people.

This is a destructive and vicious impulse that carries within it the power to destroy civilization.

No kidding.

The desire to tear down the great does not lead to happiness for the ordinary. It leads to the kind of society where everybody sits cross-legged in the mud, blaming somebody else for the misery and starvation.

The constructive response to excellence is to welcome it and admire it and encourage those who seek to emulate it.

Journalists have every right to cover a story aggressively and truthfully, but they shouldn't expect a Pulitzer Prize for lurking in the shrubbery and ambushing Michelle Wie.

Copyright 2005