Sports should be fun, right? Sports should be about entertainment, right?
With those caveats, we wake up this morning to a strange place as the Masters starts at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
We love the Masters. Everything about it. Well, almost everything after this week.
For years, the Masters has embraced the phrase, "A tradition unlike any other." And for a lot of that time, it has been governed by and relied upon a list of rules for patrons who align with Augusta National's sensibilities of the game. And we're OK with that. Your joint. Your rules. Hey, if you come to our house and want a Co-Cola, well, you best be happy with what we have or bring your own. Don't raise your voice at my kids. And for goodness sake, lift the seat. (Otherwise we'll take the heat for that one.) House rules are just that. House rules.
And that's fine. And until this week, all of the rules at Augusta National have been in large part wrapped in what's in the best interest of the game and of the best tournament on the planet.
This week, though, Augusta National reportedly released a list of words that will call for immediate expulsion from the tournament. On that list is "Dilly! Dilly!" the new ubiquitous catch phrase for Bud Light that has become commonplace at sporting events. If that decision is to better protect the game, then a lot of silly catch phrases like "Smashed Potatoes" and whatever else need to be on the list.
But if this is about efforts to guard against potential free advertising, then we think this move is beneath the folks at Augusta National. Yes, we sadly expect it in almost every other sport from every other venue, be it Nick Saban's ever-present Coke on the podium to the NCAA making everyone pour every drink into a PowerAid cup to everything about NASCAR or the NFL, which has an official sideline tablet these days.
But not the Masters. Not the home of the $5 meal (pimento cheese, chips, drink) in an era when $5 barely buys a bottle of water at most venues.
Not the Masters. Not the home of the experience as well as the expertise.
In a sports world in which almost every change seems to be about the business of the game rather than the enjoyment of the game, the Masters has long stood alone to think about the fans as much as the bottom line.
I don't support the nut bags who yell things with the golf ball in the air, but without knowing what's on the list of banned phrases, this seems like the Masters taking a hard stance to protect advertisers. And if that's what this is ultimately about, then this is disappointing.
Want to know what's not disappointing? Bud Light's social media response to this. How great is this Twitter post on an old-school scroll:
"Your king hath recovered word that the guards of the Green Jacket plan to escort any patron who dare utter Dilly Dilly off yon premises. Except for myself, I am against tyranny in all forms. So I have instructed my royal tailors to make 1,000 Dilly Dilly shirts that shall be delivered to Georgia in time for the festivities. For if they cannot say Dilly Dilly, thou can still wear Dilly Dilly. Yours in friendship and beer,
"Signed King John Barley, IV."
Who knows if we will see a Dilly! Dilly! T-shirt or hear a Dilly! Dilly! from the patrons. Who knows if the all-powerful Green Jackets will follow through, because in truth, if they wanted to prevent Bud Light from getting free publicity, well, this was the wrong way to go about it.
But more than that, if Augusta National is reacting to a need to protect its sponsors, well, simply put, that friends, is a tradition like every other.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6343.