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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some Big Breaks Start Out Broken

I'm known to rant on occasion. It's not unusual for me to rant on this blog. And the targets of my rants are usually what I see as important issues concerning the game of golf.

But I'm sure this is the first time I've ever ranted about a reality TV show.

the Big Break NFL finalists

As you probably know, GC's Big Break NFL Puerto Rico ran its final show last night. This time around, the show put together 3-player teams consisting of 2 former Big Breakers (one male, one female) and a former NFL star/golfer. It sounds workable, right? It's definitely a twist on the show's standard format.

In this case, the final show came down to a battle between Team Rice:
  • wide receiver Jerry Rice
  • Emily Talley from Big Break Mexico
  • Isaac Sanchez from Big Break Greenbrier
and Team Doleman:
  • defensive lineman Chris Doleman
  • Shannon Fish from Big Break Atlantis
  • Brian Cooper from Big Break Greenbrier
Why am I ranting about this? Because the outcome of a show that's supposed to give a "big break" to aspiring pros was determined by the play of the football players.

Tim Doleman was a great player in the NFL, but he was a disruptive force on his team. There will be those who argue that he "toughened up his teammates." I don't disagree -- if they hadn't toughened up, they would have been forced to kill him in order to maintain their sanity. Doleman was an obnoxious partner.

But GC went further and made the NFL players the team captains, meaning that they could simply pull rank and order the professionals around. This is nothing against Doleman as a person but -- and this is putting it kindly -- he didn't seem to understand what would help his teammates. (He didn't even seem to understand that golf is approached somewhat differently than football.) For example, in one segment as they prepared for a putting challenge, Fish asked him what he saw in the putt and Doleman not only gave her no help but acted like she was asking a stupid question.

Not a week went by without several teams wondering when Team Doleman was going to self-destruct... and wondering how they managed to avoid getting eliminated when it was clear they wanted to eliminate each other.

But then, after he repeatedly "strongly implied" that he had helped his teammates grow up so they could "show up" when it counted, Doleman didn't show up at all for the final competition. The final challenge was set up in 4 quarters (like a football game) with each player facing their counterpart in a single hole of match play -- 1 point for a win, 1/2 for a halve, and 0 for a loss. The points from each of the three matches were totaled to get a winner in that quarter. The team that won the most quarters would win Big Break NFL. All 3 members played in the first 3 quarters, with only the two pros playing the final quarter.

That was too little too late for the pros on Team Doleman. Doleman tied his first match with Rice then never found the fairway in his remaining two matches, which he lost. He kept hitting slices -- which, given his play in the other shows, indicated that he couldn't handle the pressure. Had it been only the pros from each team playing, the matches would have been tied after 4 quarters and gone to sudden death. As it was, Fish and Cooper went into the final quarter needing a win just to stay alive.

That's just wrong. If the goal is to give the pros a "big break," then the outcome should be determined by the pros. The winning NFL player got $50k to donate to a charity; but the winning pros got $50k apiece, entry into an LPGA or PGA event, and a club deal. Those pros had to earn a place on their original Big Break; I'm pretty sure the NFL players "earned" their spot by being former NFL players who played golf and had agents to negotiate the gig. I know the NFLers play pretty well, but it just doesn't mean the same for them. For the pros, this could mean their future; for the NFL players, this was a lark.

If the goal is to give the pros a "big break," then the outcome shouldn't be determined by the celebrities you brought in to get ratings. But that's exactly what happened... and it's why I'm so pissed off by Big Break NFL Puerto Rico. If GC wants to bring in celebrities to set goals for the pro challenges -- as Rodney Harrison did on one show -- that's fine. But let the pros determine who gets the break into the pro ranks, not celebrities who just want to say they were on Big Break.

Rant over.


  1. I thought it was a fair contest

  2. I don't disagree with you there, Phil. Everybody knew the rules and the show made sure everybody followed them. And if this were just a game show with no repercussions on anybody's future, I wouldn't have a problem at all.

    But there ARE repercussions. Just look at how Big Break affected Tommy Two Gloves's future. That's why I didn't like the pros' outcomes being determined by the NFLers' play.

    To me, it's too much like your boss determining your chances of getting a promotion by bringing in somebody off the street without any training and judging YOU by how well THEY do your job... when they had no intention of keeping the street guy in any case.

    I just think that if the goal of the show is to give deserving pros a chance at the tours, it should be the play of the pros that determines the outcome. And the play of Jerry Rice or Tim Doleman or any other NFLer, no matter how good they may be at golf, doesn't tell you whether their pro partners deserve that chance. That's all I'm saying.