Two rites of spring for many Georgians arrive today: the first round of the Masters in Augusta, and opening day for the Braves (albeit in New York this year). I’m a bigger fan of football than baseball or, especially, golf. But whether it’s because of the length of the season, the arguably greater unpredictability of the game, or simply the fact that it takes place in nature’s own season of renewal, there’s nothing quite like the blue-sky optimism of game No. 1 of 162 for a major league baseball team. (For the record, I like the Braves’ chances of making the postseason as long as we get health from the pitchers and merely average years from the hitters.)
As for the Masters, for the first time in awhile part of the storyline there centers on the Augusta National’s lack hitherto of female members. This once hot discussion was rekindled when a woman, Virginia Rometty, became chief executive of IBM — a position that, because of IBM’s longstanding role as a sponsor of the golf tournament, traditionally comes with the green jacket of club membership. Augusta National’s leaders have long said the club would accept a woman as a member at a time of its choosing. Will Rometty’s ascension at IBM trigger that choice?
Frankly, I couldn’t care less. Many women have played golf at Augusta National, so this isn’t even a question of access. The club is a private organization, and it has as much right to stick to an all-male membership as the Boy Scouts have to accept only boys, and the Girl Scouts only girls. As someone whose own chances of joining the club are only infinitesimally greater than the chances of every woman in the world, I have a hard time getting worked up about it either way. Augusta National can maintain or change its ways and deal with whatever public criticism comes its way. No skin off my back.
What I do find interesting, however, is that this discussion about equal standing for women would be renewed during our era of demonizing “the rich” and “the 1 percent.” Could there be any less meaningful sign of equal standing for any group than the acceptance of one of its members into a private club for the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent?
– By Kyle Wingfield