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April 08, 2021


lj, I couldn't be less interested in golf per se, but as you correctly surmise, I am interested in apartheid, and anybody interested in psychological processes would have to be interested in the mental gymnastics former proponents of it have had to engage in while explaining how that used to be (but is no longer) the case (as in the Wikipedia piece you linked about Player). As for the son, he sounds like a typical boorish, greedy s.o.b. (brought up by a racist, of course) who wouldn't have thought twice about hijacking someone else's day for his own gain.

Regarding your comment in the other thread about formalism v functionalism, I found it (when I had puzzled through it - I've mentioned before that these days I don't deal with abstract concepts as well as I used to, and all these terms were new and slightly difficult for me) very interesting. And you were right, it did come pretty close to an explanation, or a model, for the puzzle I was pondering on the subject of the GA law etc. Thanks for the new insight.

As to whether Player Jnr's action was (functionally) racism, the whole concept is still too new to me to know whether I agree or not, and is of course muddied by the fact that, as Gary Player's son, he is probably a (formal) racist too, even if semi-covertly.

I really wish the PGA would just bite the bullet. Tell Augusta National that the Masters will be moved elsewhere, until the club decides to join the 21st century.


I believe Augusta National (the club), not the PGA, "owns" The Masters, so the PGA cannot simply "move" it elsewhere.


I believe Augusta National (the club), not the PGA, "owns" The Masters, so the PGA cannot simply "move" it elsewhere.

Yep. Technically, the Masters is the name for Augusta National's annual invitational tournament. Being invited is prestigious enough that, like the US and British Opens, the Tour needs it more than it needs the Tour.


witnessing any Matsuyama madness?

No, though I'm not watching any TV lately because of a confluence of things. Though I'll keep an eye open now.

perhaps this is why I(ve not heard so much about Matsuyama

It was just a pity that a vast Japanese media contingent, who ordinarily would track Matsuyama’s every move, were not on site. Covid has denied them first-hand accounts of the moments they have pursued for so long and would have treasured. A cruel sporting fate

Or, you should get out more often. Here's a link:

Ten years ago, Matsuyama won the Master's Amateur. He's been a "name" on the tour since 2015 at least. He is well known and widely respected by his peers not only for his sportsmanship and decency but also for his tenacity and ability to hold up under pressure (although every player in the hunt yesterday plainly had to battle their nerves on the back nine).

His English is very limited and detailed conversation requires a translator. Undoubtedly, things will get lost in translation (my wife didn't speak English when we first started dating, so this is the voice of personal experience).

Also, in other professional golf-related news, not only are their men from everywhere on the pro tour--and have been forever or so it seems, women's professional golf is dominated by women of Asian extraction for decades.

Matsuyama is now the real deal. He will be watched as closely as Tiger, Spieth and those few others who launched themselves relatively early in their careers from the middle of the pack to the pinnacle of professional golf in one spectacular weekend.

CoVID has been a thing since last March. If someone is looking for evidence of systemic racism, this is probably not the place to be poking around.

Try the NBA.

Or, you should get out more often. Here's a link


If someone is looking for evidence of systemic racism, this is probably not the place to be poking around.

McKinney, I think in the interests of pursuing one of the bees in your bonnet, you may have misunderstood lj completely. I'm pretty sure that when bobbyp asked him about Matsuyama madness, he was talking specifically about this Masters, not M's previous history. And I think lj meant that he (in Japan) hadn't seen or heard much during this tournament, for various reasons. (I assume you will concede that lj has more exposure to Japanese media than you do?) And he linked that Guardian piece partly because it speculated that the absence of the Japanese media pack on the ground (due to Covid travel restrictions) might be limiting their ecstasy, and coverage, of his progress through.

If you did not misunderstand, perhaps you might explain your references to getting out more, and to systemic racism?

I just looked back at this and yes GftNC is correct, I was just speaking of the current Japanese reaction to Matsuyama. I’d also add that Matsuyama’s win in thw Master’s Amatuers was reported, but there hasn’t been a press entourage following him for the past 10 years. A number of teasons, including the thinking that amatuer is a step below pro, the number of successful women (a number of which are Korean, which brings its own complications) as well as golf losing a bit of popularity with Tiger receding and no one really stepping up to hold the spotlight.

As a parallel, when Ichiro was playing, the whole time, there were always a number of full time reporters on the ichiro ‘beat’. A similar situation exists for Sho Otani. However, when a player is a step back, for whatever reason, the polite reaction kicks in and the less said the better. I’m sure McT realizes that while one doesn’t win the Masters without a huge amount of preparation, I hope he can acknowledged that no one was expecting him to win. Hence my comment.

I happen to have a bit of second hand insight on Matsuyama, so I'll post this for added context. The Golf Channel was until recently headquartered here in Orlando and I know some folks who work/worked there. Obviously Japan is golf obsessed (at least in some circles). The Golf Channel employs about 10 translators to almost-live cast tournaments to Japan and this is a huge market for them.

Matsuyama lives in an upscale rural area outside of Orlando and is famously private and avoids speaking to the press (Japanese or otherwise) to the point that his marriage and the birth of his children were not reported until well after the fact. The joke is Matsuyama doesn't speak much English, but apparently not much Japanese either.

The understanding over here is that Matsuyama doesn't live in Japan because of the intense media focus on every small aspect of his life. Whether this says more about his extreme preference for privacy or the unusually intense cultural and media focus on him (and golf generally) in his home country (or a bit of both) may not be clear.

My only point is that LJ's comments that Matsuyama is not heavily followed by the media in Japan is at odds with the perception here. Not saying LJ is wrong, just that there is an interesting difference in perception. Is Matsuyama bizarrely private or is LJ a frog on boiling water when it comes to Japanese media intensity? Or it could be something else entirely.

Just offering this up FWIW.

Pollo, I think you are conflating media intensity with fame and having eyeballs focussed on them. That's an American template, but it doesn't translate to Japan.

About media intensity, from here
Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning stood with friends in the gallery and marveled at the scrutiny Matsuyama faces and how hard it must be to keep his game together under such pressure, and with the looming possibility of such shame.

It's not clear what Manning is referring to, but clearly, there is some intensity there. However, that doesn't necessarily translate a situation like Ichiro, where, when he was approaching George Sisler's record of 257 hits in a season, the morning shows would show every Ichiro at bat and, if he got a hit, multiple times. At some point, more Japanese people knew who George Sisler was than Americans.

I don't believe that the media intensity automatically translates to massive amounts of news immediately. The morning news shows are where I get most of my information, and they do short segments. When someone is hot, they might do two or three segments. In earlier times, they would take time between the segments so the talking heads (before corona, there were usually 4 or 5 people sitting around listening to the news and they offering up reactions) could then have an extended conversation about whatever. Hideo Nomo, then Hideki Irabu (which ended sadly, followed Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. In other sports, Asada Mao and Naomi Osaka. Shuzo Matsuoka is another interesting one, quarter finalist at Wimbledon and they retired. There were some medical issues, but there was also the ability to live off your fame and not have to put yourself in that spotlight. But I wasn't noticing anything about Matsuyama, though I wasn't watching very closely.

Also, no one picked him to win. (cf here, here and here) It was only after the rain delay that Matsuyama blew everyone else out, and ramping up that kind of coverage, in the middle of a Covid challenged tournament is a bit challenging.

Fame in Japan something that turns on and off like a tap, and Japanese news has people positioned to provide the goods. However, with Corona, as the Guardian article noted, they didn't have the usual army of Japanese, so I think they may have been having trouble delivering all those clips asking him what is favorite Japanese food is, or what he misses about Japan the most. It is also a problem that any other feeds from US networks etc really cost and arm and a leg, so you don't often see recycled video.

I also think that previous experience of people who have become famous really may have made Matsuyama cautious. Pollo notes that his marriage and birth of a child were not reported. Maybe it is that the Japanese are not like tabloid reporters, but if there was a hunger for any sort of information on Matsuyama, one would have thought it would have been fair game.
he says
A notoriously private person, Matsuyama said no one had bothered to ask him if he was married, so he didn’t feel the need to tell the world about her.

“No one really asked me if I was married, so I didn’t have to answer that question,” Matsuyama said.

On the other hand, I think this writer really wanted to lead with something attention grabbing

He's so famous that no one knows he got married seems like a contradiction. But the article says 'revered'. Like the Emperor etc.

So he's so famous that no one asks him a question like that. A little more detail is here
Later that afternoon, I caught up with a few Japanese reporters, who cover Matsuyama full-time. “He’s really, really shy,” Eiko Oizumi, a writer and photographer for Golf Today Japan, told me. “He doesn’t want to show his private life.” Oizumi added that the Japanese media is reluctant to ask him questions about his off-course pursuits for fear of making him uncomfortable. Reiko Takekawa, a Japanese golf writer based in California, felt that Matsuyama had a responsibility to reveal more of his personality to his adoring and curious fanbase. “Once he wins a major, it’s all going to change,” she said.[my emph]

The espn article is well written, but it overstates things to envision Matsuyama as carrying some sort of cultural burden for the entire country. Golf writers tend to freight the game with a lot more cultural significance than it can bear (like, where are all those African American golfers following in Tiger Woods footsteps?), abd I feel that after the bubble burst and Japan went thru the lost decade (times 2 really), golf's cultural cachet here has declined a bit. You wouldn't know from that piece golf is largely the domain of older men

rituals made the game synonymous with the excesses of the bubble era, putting off younger players. The number of golfers over 70 has increased by 1 million during the past decade, according to Japan’s PGA.

'Golf in Japan has an image problem,” said Hiroshi Tezuka, who owns seven courses across the country. “Golf paid for by your company is bad, golf for entertaining clients is bad, golf as a status symbol just by having the membership is bad, golfing and sacrificing the family is bad.'

As the aura vanished, so did the money.

The price of membership at the exclusive Koganei Country Club dropped from about 450 million yen in the late 1980s, to about 40 million yen, still one of the most expensive in Japan. Other clubs around the capital now offer memberships for as little as 80,000 yen, and many now allow non-members to pay a green fee to play the course."

But back to fame and Japan.

Though famous people all the time say that they do X for their fans, that sort of responsibility to fans seems much more manifest in Japanese who become famous.

There is the story of Koichi Tsuburaya

Tsuburaya competed at the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan, finishing sixth in the 10,000m event and lining up for the marathon as well, on the final day of competition. Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the race decisively, becoming the first man to defend his Olympic title in the event, having won in Rome in 1960, running barefoot. Tsuburaya entered the stadium second, but was overtaken on the final lap by the furious sprint of Britain's Basil Heatley and finished third, earning the bronze medal. Tsuburaya was mortified by the loss to Heatley, saying to fellow marathoner Kenji Kimihara, "I committed an inexcusable blunder in front of the Japanese people. I have to make amends by running and hoisting the Hinomaru in the next Olympics, in Mexico".

Shortly after the Tokyo Olympics, Tsuburaya suffered from an ongoing back problem, known as lumbago. On January 9, 1968, he committed suicide by slashing his wrist in his dormitory room where he had stayed during his training period for the Mexico City Olympics.

How, that was 1968, and things have gotten a little more sensible, but that thread of having to give up yourself both explains why there might be a lot of media intensity, but why it wouldn't be reported as one might think.

It sounds like deep cultural pressures are the catalyst and not media per se.

I'm told that Matsuyama is not looking forward to the upcoming Olympics and I guess I can see why.

It's interesting to the extent that my understanding as a non-golf fan is that Matsuyama is known to handle pressure very well.

It sounds like deep cultural pressures are the catalyst and not media per se.

Definitely, the media is just acting out its role. I don't want to give them a total pass, but I think of this when I read about the phone hacking scandal, lawsuits, or even seeing how US newspapers take up things like the Amazon union drive or discuss the latest black person killed by cops story and wonder how much they are playing a part as opposed to being participants with agency.

After I posted the comment above, I found this Time piece from 2000. Don't know why the formatting is so funky.,8599,2053776,00.html

For non-Japanese, it's very peculiar for athletes to say they are sorry, says Mitsunori Urushibara, a professor of sports philosophy at Shikoku Gakuin University. Failure is never just an individual matter in Japan. Athletes always face the terror of being excommunicated from the group. Understanding the culture in which Japanese athletes compete makes watching their defeats all the more painful. The agony of gymnast Naoya Tsukahara, whose hopes for an individual all-around medal were dashed last Wednesday when he inexplicably fell off the pommel horse, was obvious as he seemed to sleepwalk through his other events. His body was limp, his expression blank. I didn't want to disgrace my nation, he said. Another young swimmer, Tomoko Hagiwara, climbed out of the pool after finishing seventh in her 200-m individual-medley qualifying heat last Monday, her shoulders sagging, her head tilted downward. What was the cause of your poor performance? snapped a reporter for nhk, the national TV network. Hagiwara answered that she didn't shift smoothly between strokes and that her turns were poor. Please remember those points and try to do better in the next race, the reporter lectured. You feel as if everyone in Japan feels ashamed of you, former Olympic swimmer Hiroko Nagasaki commented on a Fuji TV broadcast. A memory that still haunts many in Japan is that of Kokichi Tsuburaya, the marathon runner who finished third at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Four years later, while in training for the Mexico City Olympics, Tsuburaya killed himself by slashing his wrist in his dormitory. He was found holding his bronze medal. I remember Tsuburaya's comments before he committed suicide, fellow marathoner Kenji Kimihara told the Nikkan Sports newspaper this year. He said, 'I committed an inexcusable blunder in front of the Japanese people. I have to beg their pardon by running and hoisting the Hinomaru [national flag] in Mexico.' The media are partly responsible for the pressure, but they reflect the general attitudes of the population. And the nation's fans don't seem to be having much fun. Last week, hundreds of Japanese endured a horrific schedule to watch their team battle Brazil in soccer. They took a nine hour flight from Osaka to Brisbane, traveled by bus to the stadium, dutifully watched the game and left immediately for the airport for the return trip to Osaka. They were home in time for work the next morning. They got there and acted like the cheering was compulsory, says Urushibara. They didn't seem to really enjoy the game. It is work. It is what members of the group do. Sadly, even when an athlete lives up to expectations, the demanding drumbeat for victory doesn't cease. On opening day, Tadahiro Nomura won a gold medal in judo in impressive fashion by dropping his opponent in just 14 seconds. It was his second Olympic victory, but Nomura had little chance to savor the moment. What about 2004? a reporter asked seconds after his victory. No one could blame the quiet champion if he felt like folding up his judo jacket and never putting it back on again.

Painful as it can be, I'm really glad I grew up in a guilt culture, rather than a shame culture. It just seems far easier to navigate.

Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the race decisively, becoming the first man to defend his Olympic title in the event, having won in Rome in 1960, running barefoot.

My uncle Martin Hyman, who finished 9th in the 1960 event, and won the Sao Paolo road race in 1961 ahead of Bikila, died last week. Requiescat in pace.

I'm really glad I grew up in a guilt culture, rather than a shame culture

IBeing bicultural, I feel shame AND guilt. Lucky me...

I'm half Irish catholic and half German jew ... a confluence of two great rivers of guilt. I'd still take suffering my mother's ability to silently project a guilt death ray through the phone over a shame culture.

Gosh, Pro Bono, impressive stuff! RIP indeed.

This is in response to GFTNC's concerns about the bee in my bonnet. From one picture, in the post, LJ concludes 'racism'. Above are other pictures of Player, his son and Jack Nicklaus obviously enjoying one another's company--all from the same 7 minute event from which LJ picked one split-second picture to accuse Player's son of racism.

So, my assumption when LJ seemingly cherry picked a bit out of an otherwise straightforward piece of reporting on the Masters, and since he did not add any useful context to this additional bit and since the bit he picked dealt seemed in line (Japanese arguably being excluded) with the theme of his post--a poorly documented theme, but whatever--and since none of the preceding comments referred to LJ's lack of knowledge about Matsuyama (who was widely known prior to the Masters), I made the reasonable (to me) inference that LJ was continuing in the same vein--assuming racism where the larger picture doesn't bear out the accusation.

Now LJ says, "No, I was just explaining why I didn't know more about Matsuyama." Here's the problem with that explanation: the event from which the Japanese press were excluded was a week ago. That doesn't mean the Masters wasn't reported widely in the Japanese media. It makes no logical sense for LJ to not have heard of someone who has been a "name" for years because Japanese media *last week* were not live at the Masters.

But, that's what he says is the story, so fine. That's the story. I still think he looks for any excuse to find racism when it isn't there, as shown by his post, but whatever.

I think your reaction to any mention of racism tends to be overwrought, McKinney.

Now LJ says, "No, I was just explaining why I didn't know more about Matsuyama."

I'm not going to try and explain again what I meant. When someone is going out of their way to misread it, why bother? Especially when they are going to construct faux dialogues of what I said. But I would note, GftNC, this is why mind reading ends up being a cardinal sin on the intertubes. Cause it really makes you look like a berk.

lj, I hereby authorise you, if ever my mindreading makes me look like a berk, tell me so!

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