Golf: Garcia's reminder that winning isn't everything

NO HAPPIER image of sport has reached us for some time than the sunny smile on Sergio Garcia's face as he watched Tiger Woods complete the formality of tapping in to defeat him by one shot in the USPGA Championship.

Garcia's bubbling response to the final act of an implausibly fevered tussle over the closing holes did not put him in a better light than Woods but it served to remind us of how far sport generally has slipped in matters of comportment.

To come that close to a major championship at just 19 years old was a hell of a thing but Garcia did not let disappointment intrude upon his engaging disposition. Before standing alongside Woods's coach, Butch Harman, to watch the last putt drop he kissed his conquerer's mother.

Even in a game as well-mannered as golf this was highly becoming conduct and proof that Garcia was an alert and eager student when the importance of its etiquette was explained to him.

In my eagerness to record this agreeable incident I am thinking about a football manager who was recently complaining that sportswriters play up scandals and ignore news that puts the game in a favourable light. "They have a lot answer for," he said.

Foolishly, an effort was made to explain that this isn't always the case. It was argued that many observers of the sports scene with a genuine respect for the good things in sport are genuinely concerned about abuses and excesses which, they fear, threaten its very existence. It was foolish to attempt this because the manager, a decent type, doesn't want to see any imperfections in the game that affords him a very good living.

Conditioned to the studious pandering of many television commentators and presenters, it is the exception today when anybody in sport concedes that they are not above press criticism and should be grateful for the good things that have happened to them.

If the sense of values of many performers in sport is screwed up then the important question is how it got that way. What standards of behaviour do they have and where did they acquire them?

It is easy to conjure up, impossible not to imagine what an ugly face sport will present in the upcoming millennium unless steps are taken to persuade future generations that there is more to success at games than raking in bundles of money.

Most kids of impressionable age are idealists. If they try to get into a team and make it, they will play as well and as honestly as they can for personal satisfaction and for the good opinion of their team-mates.

Trouble is that the most talented are soon persuaded that they have something for sale, that their skills have a cash value. "You're a mug if you don't take the best offer," the recruiters tell parents again and again.

The same people who hammer home this cynical philosophy are shocked when a higher offer is accepted from elsewhere and contracts aren't honoured. They wonder where the corruption started.

These are different times in sport. Not better but different. Today hardly anyone involved in professional cricket deems it necessary to discourage the verbal intimidation many coaches encourage on the basis that victory makes most things acceptable.

Paltry fines are no deterrent to the prima donnas of tennis, footballers run off at the mouth, managers and coaches abuse officials.

The unblushing pursuit of profit has done sport irreparable harm everywhere and if the press is at fault the culprits are correspondents who take the view that as nothing much can be done to stem the tide of corporate influence we might as well sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Those of us who are more inclined to rage against the dying of the light are sometimes encouraged to think that sport may eventually comes to its senses.

This may be loose thinking on our part, but in Garcia's exuberant innocence there was hope for the future. Dignity in defeat is one of golf's best traditions. Nevertheless, coming at a time when accusations of greed are being levelled at leading players, the young Spaniard's behaviour was good for the game and a blessing for believers.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Administrator - London - £26,000

£26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...

Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are seeking a confident...

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London