In the era of offense over everything, golf is trying to zag, and Rory McIlroy is onboard

Rory McIlroy is... in favor of this for some reason?

What would you say if I told you that baseball was capping how far a ball can be hit, basketball decided to negate shots over 30 feet, or the NFL limited how far the football can be thrown in the air? Your first reaction would probably be like mine when I read that Rory McIlroy is on board with the USGA’s proposal to limit drive distance.

In an appearance on the (ironically named) No Laying Up Podcast, the Northern Ireland golfer said:

“For elite-level play, I really like (the idea). I really do.

“I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier.

“Especially in this era of parity that we’ve been living in these past couple of decades.”

OK, man, whatever you say. We’re going to eliminate massive advantages of certain players, and it’s going to result in the rise of the next Tiger Woods? What kind of rough are you smoking?

Golf is already one of the most challenging sports to play, and though the scores can go super low, US Open locales still eat the lunch of most elite guys. The audience wants to watch pros do things they can’t more than they want to see a tournament where the leader isn’t under par, and if everybody is hitting the ball as far as you or I on a windy day and struggling to clear water hazards, too, that appeal is gone. Has no one rewatched Tin Cup recently? The idiocy, my god.

Other pros say rule change tries to fix a problem that isn’t there

Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas each aired their views on the proposal, with Rahm asking, “Why change what’s working?” and Thomas saying the USGA is “trying to create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

I’m not sure if they were fed the same talking points or were mind-melding, but the No. 2- and No. 10-ranked players went on to say it would be bad for the game. Rahm pointed out that it would hurt the less-powerful players who would need a 4- or 5-iron to hit the ball as far as they once did with a 7, while the longer guys like Rahm would have a more distinct advantage because they can still hit the clubs they used to.

That’s probably where McIlroy got his line of thinking considering he’s leading the PGA in distance off the tee (326 yards). The deadened balls would max out at around 320 yards, but it’s not like a governor on a golf cart that immediately hits the brakes once you reach top speed. Everyone would be using the heavy ball, so the move theoretically gives bigger hitters a leg up.

Yet fans won’t be compelled by a contrived Jack Nicklaus or a bootleg Tiger. We want an actual successor — which the PGA and USGA are well aware of and freaking out about — but not one that’s a product of a rule change.

McIlroy’s resuscitated charm back on life support

If you’re like me, the constant sniping between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has grown stale like a rap beef on its seventh diss track. It’s the sport’s best current rivalry only nothing gets settled on the course, and we’re left with McIlroy constantly bitching about Greg Norman because reporters keep asking Rory about LIV, and Rory keeps answering because this is the most attention he’s gotten since before fans realized he’s the heir apparent to jack shit.

One of the byproducts created by the exodus of talent to the Saudi tour has been the resurgence of McIlroy. He hasn’t won a major since 2014, but did earn top eight finishes in all four majors last year, including second at the Masters and third at the Open Championship, and took home the FedEx Cup as well. Is the success because of watered-down competition? Or has his righteousness boosted him on high, soaring with greats once again via the grace of an incorruptible moral compass? I don’t know, but the latter answer sounds better in the lede of a story.

While I acknowledge that McIlroy and the rest of the golfers who didn’t defect will be on the side of history that didn’t readily accept blood money, what’s overlooked is the divide started because of the PGA Tour’s shitty payment model. The Tour’s recent changes are direct responses to LIV, and I don’t feel good about either management group even though I feel worse about one more than the other.

That brings me back to McIlroy. I appreciate that he was outspoken about players jumping leagues. It was refreshing to know that not all golfers turn into amoebas when offered absurd amounts of money. However, that’s where my affinity stops. I’m good on the sound bites, I’m good on the coverage, and I’m good on Rory. Go win the Masters and give me a reason to listen to you give an interview.

Deadspin’s 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports

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In honor of…uh, things potentially happening today, we decided to take a look back at some of Deadspin’s best pieces on former President Donald Trump, also non-lovingly known as TFG — The Former Guy. You may think of TFG as solely a former President of the United States, but you’d be wrong! Because TFG is nothing if not sporty. He plays tennis! He owned a USFL team! He recently won a completely normal golf tournament!

So join us, won’t you? As we take a walk down memory lane and remember some our best (sports-related) TFG content.

Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports
Image for article titled Deadspin's 10 best stories about Donald Trump & sports

Trump Is The Main Reason We Won’t Have College Football

One of many vacuous issues Trump was more fixated on than the pandemic was the college football season. He needed the distraction from his plummeting popularity numbers. Yet, one of the ironies is that his apathy for Covid nearly cost college football an entire season.


Howard University is dancing once again

Howard Bison head coach Kenny Blakeney celebrates with the net after defeating the Norfolk State Spartans to win the 2023 MEAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship.

Colorado, you can have Deion Sanders. I hope he enjoys Boulder which he claims has “no crime,” and I hope the university enjoys him until he moves on to a job with more money and prestige and says that he was instructed by God to do so. I also hope that Jackson State continues to thrive sans the man with the gold whistle who doesn’t allow earrings in meetings. Another HBCU — Howard University — is seeing a surge in athletic success. It has been pursued away from the spotlight, but recent success has been plentiful.

Howard is a university with a history of producing stars. Sure I’m a biased alumnus who is high on school pride with the Bison in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the second time in the program’s history, but facts are facts. Howard produces Academy Award winners, MacArthur Genius Grant recipients, civil rights leaders like Kwame Ture a.k.a Stokely Carmichael who stood with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but also challenged him on certain topics, the current vice president of the United States of America, and many more highly respected individuals.

Sports stars few and far between at Howard

Of course, sports are expensive, and as an HBCU Howard doesn’t have the athletic budget of a Power 5 university. However, even when the majority of star Black athletes played at Howard, they struggled athletically. Jackson State has four Pro Football Hall of Famers, but per Sports Reference the only player from Howard to make a Pro Bowl is Antoine Bethea. (He made three to be exact.) Howard Men’s Basketball coach Kenny Blakeney (pictured) is from Washington and said that he couldn’t name five players in the history of the program during his introductory press conference in 2019.

Turning its athletics program around

In recent years, Howard has been slowly but surely turning its athletics program around. A major move took place in 2015 with the hiring of Ty Grace as head coach of the women’s basketball team. Before the start of that season, Kery Davis was hired as athletic director.

Last season Grace’s squad won the MEAC tournament — Howard’s first conference title in two decades — and was also victorious in a First-Four game. This season they advanced to the MEAC title game again and almost pulled off a spectacular comeback against Norfolk State.

Howard is the only HBCU with swimming and diving teams. In February the men took home the Northeast Conference Championship for the first time in three decades, breaking 16 records in the process. The women finished fourth but still broke 15 records. Miles Simon from the men’s side won Most Outstanding Swimmer and Jordan Walker from the women won Most Outstanding Diver.

Last spring the softball team took home a MEAC Championship. Stephen Curry helped get the golf team back to Division I competition in 2021 and the program won a conference championship in its first season. The football team also tied for a conference championship in the fall. It was their first conference title since 1993.

And on Thursday at 2 p.m. EST, Blakeney’s Bison men will take on Kansas in a first-round tournament matchup. Howard’s last appearance was in 1992 when Blakeney won a National Championship as a freshman at Duke. In his fourth season as head coach, Howard finished 11-3 in conference play and 21-11 on the season. The Bison defeated back-to-back MEAC Champion Norfolk State on Saturday in a 65-64 thriller.

Their 3-point shooting had failed them most of the day, but Marcus Dockery sent a rainbow through the net while double-covered to keep hopes alive with 13 seconds remaining in the game. A Norfolk State turnover and two clutch free throws from Jelani Willams — a transfer from Penn — later and Howard punched its ticket for the first time since before tickets largely went digital. The program even received some love before the tournament from the NBA when the Milwaukee Bucks were in town to play the Washington Wizards.

A school that has almost always been more likely to produce a Stan Verrett than a Bethea has reached one of college sports’ most prolific events. It didn’t need a Pro Football Hall of Famer filming a documentary for Amazon Prime while coaching either. Just some new blood that was committed to taking the daily steps to turn the program around.

So for all of the classic literature, impactful advocates, talented artists, and world leaders that Howard produces, it’s now known for something else.

Howard has proved that it can be a sports school too.