As you are probably aware by now, my PGA Tour media credentials were revoked on Thursday because I used Periscope on Monday to show part of a practice round.
On Monday at Harding Park, Wei hoofed it for Spieth’s practice round – indicative of her hustle – and was privy to some amusing trash talking and other hijinks. Wei felt that as a live streaming service Periscope was a different technology than traditional video, which gave her just enough wiggle room to post the clips. (Votaw strenuously disagrees, obviously.) Beyond that, Wei recognized Spieth is the hottest commodity in golf this minute and there is an insatiable appetite for anything he says or does.
“There’s no golf on TV on Monday, and here was Jordan in a fun, unique setting,” Wei says. “All I was really thinking about was giving fans what they want to see.”
Even if Wei broke the Tour’s rules, the real issue is whether those rules make sense anymore. The Tour operates under a very traditional model in which it feels it owns the content (the tournaments and whatever the players do during them) and various rights-holders (Golf Channel, the networks) pay handsomely to borrow that content. But the sports media environment has changed at the speed of light, and fans now demand to be entertained in new and different ways, with video clips the coin of the realm. They expect this at all hours, not just on the limited, rigid broadcast schedules of various television networks.
This part gave me the chills…
It is these exclusive relationships that yield the bland offerings of the Golf Chanel and the sanitized content on pgatour.com. Wei offers an edgier, fresher voice, which is why she connected with her fans and followers. She also brought a desperately needed youth and diversity to the press room. In its zeal to protect its powerful rights-holders, the Tour has squashed a reporter who has traveled to as many, if not more, tournaments than any other reporter on the beat over the last five years. Wei’s only crime was doing her job too enthusiastically. Which brings us back to Jordan Speith talking trash at Harding Park during a practice round. Given the Tour’s Orwellian desire to control content, I asked Votaw who in fact owns Spieth’s quips. He offered a chilling parting thought:
“As a member of the PGA Tour, he assigns his media right to the Tour while on site at a PGA Tour sanctioned event. So from a video perspective, we own whatever he says.”
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(Getty Images/Andrew Redington)