Gary Player says government should stay out of sports

by Joanne Miller

Gary Player, the legendary golfer, believes that sports and government should remain separate entities. In an interview with CNBC, Player expressed his concern over the increasing integration of government and sports, stating that it is “absolutely vital” for governments to stay out of the world of sports.

Player’s comments come as the golf world undergoes a major merger between Saudi-funded LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, which has raised antitrust concerns. Despite his general view on the separation of sports and politics, Player openly supports this merger. He believes that bringing the two entities together will benefit the sport in the long run, providing players with more financial opportunities and ensuring the sustainability of the game.

Interestingly, Player himself has been politically involved in sports. He served as an ambassador for Golf Saudi, an organization focused on enhancing the presence of golf in Saudi Arabia. He is currently an ambassador for Saudi energy giant Aramco, with their logo displayed on his golf shirts. These affiliations highlight the intricate relationships that exist between sports, politics, and finance, despite Player’s overall stance on the matter.

The proposed merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour has faced criticism and scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers, and even other golfers. Concerns have been raised about the potential impact on competition and the concentration of power within the sport. Last week, a U.S. Senate subcommittee held a second hearing on the merger, and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal subpoenaed the Saudi Public Investment Fund for information related to the deal.

In addition to his views on government involvement in sports, Player also expressed his disapproval of athletes becoming too political. He specifically mentioned athletes who refuse to stand for the national anthem and criticized the political views of the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

Player, a golfing legend who has won nine major tournaments and played with every U.S. president in the last 70 years, also shared his perspective on the upcoming Ryder Cup. He expressed his opposition to the use of captain’s picks, preferring a system where players qualify based on their performance in leading events. The practice of captain’s picks has been a subject of debate and controversy in the Ryder Cup for the past four decades.

Amidst all these discussions, Player emphasized the importance of golf as a means of raising funds for charities worldwide. The golfer recently organized a celebrity golf event in Bedford Hill, New York, aimed at raising money for pancreatic cancer, a cause that is close to his heart following the passing of his wife in 2021.

Gary Player’s opinions shed light on the complex relationship between sports, politics, and finance. While he advocates for the separation of government and sports, he also acknowledges his own involvements in politically-driven initiatives. As the golf world navigates a major merger and faces regulatory scrutiny, Player’s perspective adds an interesting dimension to the ongoing conversation.

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