Gary Player snubbed by Mandela over Myanmar ties - should human rights matter to golf course designers?
An interesting development from South Africa. It seems Nelson Mandela has withdrawn an invitation to Gary Player to host a charity fundraising tournament in Mandela’s name due to Player’s business ties in Myanmar. According to The Guardian, Mandela has responded to Bishop Desmond Tutu’s call to cut ties with Player.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund said it was “not fully aware of the extent and nature” of Mr Player’s involvement in Burma when it made the invitation, “nor of the political impact of this involvement". It took note of the “international campaign in support of greater freedom in that country.”
For any making the claim that Player is a scapegoat in this particular situation, it wouldn’t be difficult to see their point. South Africa has been widely condemned for failing to back UN motions criticizing the junta’s human rights violations. But having Player as the host for a charity golf tournament - and the bad publicity that would come with it, strikes too close to home for Mandela, apparently.
For his part, Player said the course he designed in Myanmar was built at a time when political strife in that country had cooled.
Mr Player said his company’s involvement with the design of the golf course occurred in 2002 when “the world’s relations towards the regime in Burma had thawed; Aung San Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest and it seemed as though real political change was in the air".
“Let me make it abundantly clear that I decry, in the strongest possible terms, the recent events in Burma and wholeheartedly support Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu in his efforts to bring peace and transition to that country,” he said.
The situation in Myanmar is politically complex, to say the least, and for the purposes of this post, best left for other discussions. The situation to look at here, however, is what responsibility do golf’s big names have when it comes to doing business with foreign nations.
It is easy to make claims of “growing the game,” but it’s difficult to imagine that Tiger Woods had a burning desire to promote golf in Dubai. He went where the money was for his first course design. Human rights issues were secondary, at the very least. Also, Jack Nicklaus has substantial ties to China, another nation where the term “human rights” is often spoken with a wink.
It’s by no means a cut and dried situation. But perhaps it could be wise for those like Woods and Nicklaus to see the trouncing that Player’s legacy is in the process of receiving. Because when you have a name that resounds as loudly as “Gary Player” or “Jack Nicklaus” or “Tiger Woods,” who you connect that name to can come back to haunt you.
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Hey Mandela, why didn't you roll up your sleeves and stop your revolutionary struggle buddy, Mugabe, from bulldozing the homes of one million poor people (with old, young and sick still inside)? Matabeleland massacre, anyone? Why wasn't Mandela putting his body in between Mugabe's stormtroopers and Morgan Tsvangirai?
He's worried about a golf course in Myanmar, when his friends and political associates have racked up hundreds of thousands of African bodies both black and white? Necklacing? Inkatha?
Next program, please. We've seen all this before! You can go back to sleep, America and Britain. Mandela says Gary Player is an evil, supporter of violent regimes. You needn't trouble yourself about the truth.
Don’t mistake me; I have no problem with players making a lot of money, that after all is one of the added perks of being one of the best in your field. But more and more players are focusing on their business ventures not just after their best days on the course are over but also when they are at the prime of their career. Golf has always suffered the image of being considered an elitist sport and that maybe partly true.
Therefore these ambassadors of the game might have to go out of their way to go and promote the game through participating in golf clinics and tournaments in different parts of the world, by getting the ordinary public to come and see them display their wares and not focus on business link ups and fancy courses in tourist resorts. Therefore I am not surprised that sometimes problems like this might crop up and one cannot blame Gary Player for this present issue. That is not where the problem is, the root cause is elsewhere and that is something that all the big names will have to contemplate.
that when he dies, the war against South African
whites will go from cold to hot.
But like Om Piet says, go back to sleep you PC idiots.
Most whites will celebrate the wholesale slaughter
of other whites and say they "had it coming".
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