In what can only be described as a huge win for the Saudi Arabian monarchy that has so desperately tried to paper over human rights abuses including the assassination of critics, the PGA Tour, the European DP World Tour, and Saudi-owned LIV Golf have announced that they will be merging into a single golf entity. In the short term, that means the flurry of lawsuits between the PGA and LIV Golf are now moot, but that's nothing compared to the long-term results.
The merger of the three golfing leagues into a single entity with a name yet to be determined will include rolling up Saudi-owned LIV Golf into a minority ownership of the new golf league, giving the Saudi monarchy what it wanted all along: partial ownership of the PGA Tour. The Saudi investment fund will "retain exclusive rights to make further investments," reports CBS News, and the fund's governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, will join the PGA Tour's policy board.
Other winners include professional golfers who defected from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf in exchange for significant cash bonuses from LIV (which led to sometimes frosty crowd receptions when returning to PGA events) and seditionist Donald Trump, who is already celebrating the merger.
The deal likely means the newly merged company will host events at Trump’s own resorts, a significant boost from the post-coup period in which the Saudi monarchy's LIV Golf was Trump's most significant league partner.
Elsewhere, the seemingly inexplicable merger is being ripped and condemned. GolfWeek columnist Dan Wolken ripped PGA heads as "frauds."
"A year ago, [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] stood up in front of the world and argued that the way Saudi Arabia treats women, gay people and journalists should matter in a player’s decision whether to jump at the guaranteed payday that came with a LIV invitation," wrote Wolken. The columnist also noted that while the PGA Tour is claiming this to be a merger, "On paper, it looks more like a hostile takeover."
That's probably the more correct assessment. After the Saudi monarchy-sanctioned murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the monarchy's investment fund has been making aggressive purchases that regime critics have called "sportswashing" an effort to paper over the regime's brutality by ingratiating itself to sports fans who may not necessarily be aware of the kingdom's often astonishing brutality. The attempts were met with revulsion in the professional golf world—or they were.
Sen. Chris Murphy was among those to immediately express skepticism of the PGA Tour's prior supposed commitments to human rights:
"So weird. PGA officials were in my office just months ago talking about how the Saudis' human rights record should disqualify them from having a stake in a major American sport," Murphy tweeted in response to the news.
"I guess maybe their concerns weren't really about human rights?"
Indeed, it now looks like PGA officials were more concerned with business competition than with tying themselves to an authoritarian regime that kills dissidents and treats its nation's women as barely more than property. Once the PGA found a way to evade the monetary costs of the former, tour officials simultaneously dropped their criticism of the latter.
Well, nobody can really claim to be surprised by this. Nobody's terribly stunned that the officers of a professional sports league would swallow whatever human rights abuses needed to be swallowed in exchange for money. At best, sports columnists (and everyone else) are shocked by just how brazen the PGA switcheroo was, with "human rights" being waved as the tour's flag right up until the moment the ink began to dry on the new partnership.
Now that's quite the heel turn.
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Countless progressive organizations seek to engage and mobilize voters, but coordinating those efforts is a mighty task. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we're joined by Sara Schreiber, the executive director of America Votes, which works with hundreds of partners at the national and state level to deploy the most effective means of urging voters to the polls. Schreiber walks us through how coalitions of like-minded groups are formed and how the work of direct voter contact is divvied up between them. A special focus is on "blue surge" voters—those who, in the Trump era, joined the rolls for the first time—and why ensuring they continue to participate in the political process is the key to progressive victories.