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Fed-Ex Cup a Desperate, Failed Marketing Ploy Sep 28

Fed-Ex CupIn case you missed it, and I’m sure most of you did, the Fed-Ex Cup finished this weekend with Tiger Woods emerging as the champion. I know a good majority of people are sitting around here thinking, what the fuck is the Fed-Ex Cup? So let me explain.

From the fact that Tiger Woods won it, I’m sure that you can figure out that its some sort of golfing event. Either that or a contest to determine the whitest black man on the planet, but I doubt that a company like Fed-Ex would sponsor something like that, perhaps Brooks Brothers but not Fed-Ex. Anyway, its basically the championship of the PGA. Points are accumulated for your finishing places in tournaments during the whole year, but then there is what amounts to a playoff for the final four events. The top 125 golfers make it into the “playoffs” and are seeded accordingly, with then the most productive person being declared the PGA champion after the 4 events.

This ridiculous thing is golf’s attempt at having an exciting chase to the championship similar to what you see in Nascar. Unfortunately for the PGA, it doesn’t really work. What kind of  a playoff can you have anyway when you have 125 golfers eligible. I mean come on, the NBA and NHL take a whole lot of heat for having 16 of their teams make the playoffs each year.

Also, can it be any coincidence that the Fed-Ex cup lasts for four weeks and ends on the same Sunday that is week 3 of the NFL season. Golf can’t honestly expect to compete with the NFL on Sunday, but this is their pathetic way of trying. By having that first “playoff” event before the NFL season starts, the PGA is hoping to sink the hook into people so much that their going to blow off the NFL in favor of watching Golf on Sunday’s for awhile. That is simply crazy talk and never going to happen.

NFL sunday ticketAt least it never should happen. This weekend I came home to one of my roommates actually watching Golf instead of football. I thought I had stepped into some parallel universe. Now I’m a golf fan, I enjoy playing it a whole lot and do enjoy watching it. There’s just no way when football is on. If golf is really that much concerned with TV ratings, then their going to have just install lights and have all their events on prime time during the week because here in America, football rules the day during the weekends.

Getting back to this ridiculous farce, on Sunday Phil Mickelson won the final event of the year which is ironically called The Tour Championship, while Tiger Woods walked away with The Fed-Ex Cup which is supposed to be awarded to the champion of the tour for the year. Hmmm, is that a little bit confusing to anyone else. Now for his trouble Tiger Woods did walk away with a very big check for $10 million dollars for his trouble, while Phil Mickelson the winner that day got a check for less than a third of that number. Something just doesn’t seem right about that.

Golf will always be an individual sport that is about winning individual events. This whole Fed-Ex Cup thing is ludicrous and a horrible idea. In Nascar’s Chase for the Cup for instance, a driver might play it safe during a race and not take chance going for the win because he knows that the points accumulate and the championship is the thing that really matters. That’s not the case in golf. There is no way that someone is going to lay up on the 18th instead of going for the hole to try and preserve their spot in the Fed-Ex Cup. That’s just not the way the game is played, and I’m glad its not.

Phil winner, Tiger Fed-ExI think the PGA recognizes that this thing has failed and I hope they pull the plug on it soon. The Fed-Ex Cup was only introduced in 2007 and they have already adjusted the rules and point scoring setup every single year since its introduction. Their trying to tinker with the thing and make it work rather than just give it the proper burial that it deserves. From their standpoint its pretty much win win because they get to sell Fed-Ex the naming rights for something that’s pretty much invented out of thin air. However its gotten to the point that its distracting and taking away from the true nature of the game. Phil Mickelson was the winner on Sunday after playing some excellent golf, yet his thunder and accolade was stolen by Mr. Tiger Woods and his mythical Fed-Ex championship, that’s a dam shame.

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2 Responses

  1. 1
    PT 

    I think you miss the point, but thanks for taking the time to write about this. The FedEx Cup is not for the fans once football season starts, or at any point during the PGA Tour season. It’s to keep the incentive for great players (primarily Tiger, as he’s the only one to move the ratings needle) to play in more tournaments, thus benefitting you when you’re bored on a May sunday and Tiger’s playing in the Quail Hollow Championship.

    The only way to do that is to have big prize money at the end with a lot of people competing for it. Otherwise you have a five month golf season for the top players, April to August during the Majors season. No corporate tour sponsor wants that short of a season. Without the FedEx Cup, Tiger plays overseas for appearance checks and shows up in the US for maybe 8 weeks a year. (See Phil announcing today he’ll be playing in the upcoming Singapore Open). Instead they had Tiger from March through September, at least two more months and 6-8 more tournaments. If the FedEx Cup were killed as you suggest, the big non-major tournaments would continue to only have prize money as an incentive to draw players, and they’d have a much easier time growing the pots than the smaller tournaments, and advertisers would jump ship from the smaller tournaments when the players do, or vice versa. You should know that something doesn’t have to be an overwhelming logical success with the fans to stick around (see “BCS”).

    I don’t know how something that gets a national 3.3 rating during a September Sunday afternoon is a failure. That’s almost 4 million households. So somebody cares. The events that Tiger missed last year had about half the ratings as when he was playing. So the tour has no problem giving him $10MM at the end…that’s a pittance for his continued participation throughout the year.

    Keep in mind that sports are a business, so you need to think of them as one. Fans are only as important as a role to entice advertisers, not to judge their satisfaction of when it’s worth to watch Tiger or not, as Americans have shown we don’t care what he’s playing in…if he’s playing, we’ll watch.

  2. 2
    admin 

    Thanks for the comment, and you do make some good points that I can’t argue with. There are at least two sides to everything and from a business aspect it certainly makes sense for the PGA Tour. I don’t think its really going to capture the imagination of the sports fans though during football season. That has to play some role in that, I know the PGA would love to see that happen. I don’t think anyone will be walking in to a sports bar though and finding golf on a fall Sunday.

    Keeping Tiger involved will be important for right now, but is that really an incentive for the Cup long-term. Is another Tiger going to emerge that transcends the game to such a point that as you say double the amount of people watch when he is playing. That might be a reason to keep it around right now, but what next?

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