Media pundits and some fellow bloggers need to relax about the rowdy fan behavior during Friday’s opening matches at the Ryder Cup, and enjoy the event. There’s nothing wrong with a little jacked up passion because it allows folks to get energized and blow off some steam. After all, it is the start of football season in the United States and is coupled with the run up to a divisive general election. The two have fans simmering to a boil, and the Ryder Cup serves as a welcome pressure valve. With each new edition of the bi-annual competition, the fire does burn a little hotter and the stakes seem a little higher, which was certainly the case yesterday at Hazeltine.
I’m pulling hard for the U.S. team but loved Rory McIlroy’s theatrics after holing his match-winning eagle putt on #16. As long as players aren’t bothered during their pre-shot routines, or while making a stroke, I’m fine with the vocal outbursts. While this may seem at odds with the gentlemanly nature of golf, it makes for a very memorable sports experience.
Think back to your own most memorable sports experiences. They may not have been the best played events, but what made them memorable? Emotion! My three were the 1981 Orange Bowl between Oklahoma and Florida State which was a one point game decided in the last minute and accompanied by some outrageous fan behavior after the game was over; a 1982 basketball game between my Maryland Terrapins and the top-ranked Virginia Cavilers who were led by Ralph Sampson. This was a one point overtime victory for the Terps and was categorized by a last second buzzer beater and a second half fight between the teams. And finally, my first MLB playoff game in 2012 between the Orioles and Yankees at Camden Yards. A three-hour rain delay with plenty of beer fueled the festivities. Here’s a video I shot pre-game with folks getting warmed up.
Generally, these great events involve either a bitter rivalry, a close score, or some pent up hard feelings for the other side. Golf is unique because it’s mostly individual competitions and fans provide ample support for players of different countries at most of the big events, but in the Ryder Cup, rivalry, closeness of the competition, and some hard feelings all form the key ingredients for a delicious passionate stew.
Let’s hope things don’t get out of hand; I suspect they won’t. Enjoy the passion and the spectacle!