I don't write too much about sports here, because this is a blog for professional communicators.
But communicators should be interested in the Ryder Cup, which has become a phenomenon so fundamentally fucked up that no amount of communication can save it. Which communicators might find familiar.
The Ryder Cup is a biennial nationalistic battle between two teams of professional golfers. To a man, they claim that this contest is the most meaningful part of their careers. (I would like to know the least meaningful part of their careers as pro duffers. That would be really something!)
The Ryder Cup is a symbolic battle between the United States and Europe, because we need the modern world to remember that it's all about the United States and Europe. (In the years that they don't play the Ryder Cup, they play the President's Cup, which pits a U.S. team against an international team. This event serves to remind the world that, when it's not all about the United States vs. Europe, it's all about the United States vs. the Whole World.)
For many months ahead of the Ryder Cup, all we hear from top-ranked American golfers is how making the Ryder Cup team is all in the world that they care about, aside from the cherished families they never see because they're on the road 35 weeks a year. (When they're on the road, they do a lot of reading, averaging three books per year, according to a recent survey.)
All private jet-flying Republicans who believe purely and adamantly in meritocracy, many of the top players who have played badly during the season shamelessly and publicly beg the Ryder Cup Captain—this year it was the revered elder statesman Tom Watson—to consider making an exception for them. These exceptions are called "Captain's Picks." (I wish The New Yorker had Captain's Picks!)
The Captain, for his part, spends two years of his life talking about how he is spending two years of his life trying to get the Ryder Cup team chemistry utterly and exqusitely perfect.
And then they all come together and lose either dramatically or boringly to a European team whose members seem to suffer from only about half of the profound hypocrisy and terminal foolishness described above. (Why only half? Maybe because there is no Republican Party in Europe; maybe because the Europeans drink more together; maybe because Europeans are just too lazy to reach the heights of careerism that we do. I dunno.)
And finally—sometimes openly and sometimes slightly less openly—all the players blame the recently revered Captain for the loss, because he placed the wrong prima donnas in the wrong matches with the wrong partners at the wrong time of day.
And the recently revered Captain finds a way to point out—for the first time in two years—that it's actually the players who play, and if the players don't play well, the coaching strategy doesn't make any difference.
And then in two years, we do it all over again, expecting different results.
Because it only lasts a week, the Ryder Cup is not a permanent entity that would hire a communication professional to promote leadership, productivity and employee engagement.
But if it did, you would know just how that person felt, wouldn't you?