Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Not Worse Than Lynching, But...

Nick Faldo joined the Stupid Editorializer's Club on Sunday during the Golf Channel's coverage of the morning 18 of the Cink-Woods match play finale. (And Kelly, sort of, got in on the fun.) Steve Elling outlines it for those of you who missed it:

Network analyst Nick Faldo on Sunday denigrated his former equipment manufacturer, Nike, during the live telecast of the Accenture Match Play Championship final between Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink, two Nike endorsers.

During the morning session of the 36-hole final, Golf Channel play-by-play analyst Kelly Tilghman noted on the air that it was an all-Nike final. That, in itself, sounded like a free plug, since Tilghman last December emceed a Nike outing for Woods in South Florida.

But Faldo, who also works for CBS Sports, went a step farther on the conflict-of-interest front. A few weeks after signing a new endorsement deal with TaylorMade, he launched into a lengthy discourse about the superiority of the TaylorMade golf ball, and noted how only certain players with high skill levels should bother using the Nike ball, lest it fall out of the sky. Faldo once endorsed the Nike line.

Certainly, the comments of Faldo do not amount to a hill of beans compared to those of Kelly Tilghman. Still, the comments do represent a conflict of interest that player analysts face in broadcasting golf events.

Another great example is from CBS Sports' David Feherty - a Cobra spokesman - when JB Holmes won his first FBR Open by overpowering TPC Scottsdale. Feherty was so glowing in his review of Holmes and the performance of his Cobra equipment that it was sickening. He then later appeared in commercials for the Cobra line featuring several of their staff players.

There are other announcers that border on a conflict of interest. Take, for example, Jim Nantz at CBS Sports. He does the voiceovers and has made some appearances in Titleist commercials. To his credit, though, he never mentions Titleist with any particular favor in his broadcasting. Basically, he knows he is getting paid because of the familiarity of his voice and not because he has the golf game to be able to back a ball.

Johnny Miller is on the Callaway staff and does voiceovers for their commercials. In a few instances, he may have toed the line of conflict of interest. But I have no recollection of him jumping over it like Faldo did on Sunday. Then again, Phil Mickelson is really the only relevant Callaway staff member of late.

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