Tags: Casey | The | Cart

Casey In The Cart

Wednesday, 30 May 2001 12:00 AM

Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said that allowing Martin to use a golf cart would not, "fundamentally alter the nature" of the PGA Tour's tournaments. He said that the reason the tour requires golfers to walk the course is to introduce fatigue as a factor, one which can have an affect on the outcome of the event. That line of reasoning makes sense and it happens to be correct. However Stevens strays from common sense with his next conclusion. He says that walking is not a fundamental part of the sport. Ridiculous! Don't just take my word for it, golfing legend Jack Nicklaus says, "I promise you, walking is fundamental."

Justice Stevens continues the nonsense by stating that Martin's circulatory disorder, which makes it painful for him to walk and obstructs blood flow to his right leg and to his heart, causes him greater fatigue even with a cart than is experienced by golfers who walk. How can Justice Stevens or anyone make that blanket statement with any certainty at all? I believe that he simply can not. It may sound good, but how do you go about measuring the fatigue level of each competitor? You can't.

Let's also look at the ADA. It bans discrimination against the disabled in public accommodations including golf courses and entertainment sites. The law says that "reasonable modifications" must be made for disabled people unless these changes would fundamentally alter the place or the event.

The seven justices said that this law does apply to professional sports events when they are held at places of public accommodation. Well, doesn't allowing one participant to ride while the others walk 'fundamentally alter the event'? It changes the rules. It makes exceptions to the rules. It's not what sports are all about. The "equal playing field" disappears.

Believe it or not I have great admiration for Casey Martin. If I were in his position I might try to do the same thing, taking the same route: the U.S. courts. The Supreme Court decision upholds a federal appeals court ruling last March, which gave its approval to a 1998 ruling in which a federal judge sided with Martin in his suit against the PGA Tour.

Martin was a part of the 1994 Stanford team that captured the NCAA title. It has been reported that Martin has seen his skills diminish as his condition worsens. In 1999 he finished 14th on the Buy.com Tour money list, playing his way on to the PGA Tour. On January 19, 2000 he became the first PGA Tour member to use a cart, but wound up missing the cut in the Bob Hope Classic by three strokes. He also failed to keep his Tour card, ending up 179th on the money list (only the top 125 get to keep their playing privileges).

Both Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have come out against any player using a cart in elite competition. They say that Martin would have an advantage. They also say that not withstanding Justice Stevens, the ability to walk an 18-hole course is a basic part of the game.

What concerns me the most here is the reaction of one of Martin's lawyers to the decision. Martha Walters says the ruling shows that golf tournaments will be governed by the same rules as all other businesses. She called the decision important "to all people in sports, high school kids, kids at all levels", because she says, their disabilities would have to be taken into consideration.

Just what does she mean? If golf tournaments are to be governed by the same rules as all other businesses, what about baseball games?

Let's say a current slugger became partially disabled. He could still hit the heck out of a ball but he couldn't run the bases. Could he request that baseball allow him to take his turns at bat, and have someone else run for him once he hits the ball? What about a top scorer in the NBA? Let's say he becomes partially disabled. He can still shoot the ball through the hoop will amazing accuracy but he can not run down the court. Could he request that he be allowed to stay positioned at a spot where he could be passed the ball and shoot, while someone else plays defense for him under his teams basket?

Where would the line be drawn? Would the Supreme Court be the ones to rewrite the rules?

I think we need to ask these questions sooner rather than later.

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Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said that allowing Martin to use a golf cart would not, fundamentally alter the nature of the PGA Tour's tournaments. He said that the reason the tour requires golfers to walk the course is to introduce fatigue as a...
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2001-00-30
Wednesday, 30 May 2001 12:00 AM
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