Column: City should embrace Ryder Cup

By on September 16, 2008

By Gavin Lapaille

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine as we tried to figure out how big the Ryder Cup is and where it ranks on the list of important sporting events.
My friend said he thought it was the Super Bowl of golf because it had to be the biggest event in the sport. I argued it was more like the Olympics because of the focus of a team aspect rather than an individual one.
After arguing and bickering for several minutes, we finally came to an agreement: there is no comparison to the event that starts today at Valhalla Golf Club.
That’s why it’s so amazing Louisville is the host city.
Louisville isn’t in the upper echelon of sports towns and it certainly isn’t one of the cities that comes to mind when you think of big golfing areas. Yes, the entire world looks our way each year on the first Saturday in May and the University of Louisville athletic teams are some of the best in the nation, but since the city lacks a team in one of the four major professional sports, we get the dreaded label as a “college” town that can’t support anything but minor league baseball.
The city has stepped up in the past when it’s counted. When the U of L baseball team hosted the Super Regionals, fans came out to support their squad. When Valley Sports went on to win the Little League Championship, the city became engulfed in their every move. Freedom Hall, Churchill Downs and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium routinely rock the house for big events.
The Ryder Cup is Louisville’s chance to show it can do more than that, to prove to the rest of the world Louisville is ready to be among the big boys in terms of supporting large athletic events.
Valhalla should be rocking from the time the gates open until the time the last match ends on Sunday. People should be  whispering and pointing when someone walks by them this week not dressed in Ryder Cup gear. Routine chants of “USA, USA” should be heard at all times. 
Basically, I want the city of Louisville to be completely consumed with the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is a one of a kind event and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that it’s being played in this city. It should be treated as such by everyone in the community.
You may not agree allowing an event that should bring more than 200,000 people here for this week is a great idea. You might disagree with how the event is being handled, or where people have to park. Heck, you might even think there aren’t enough golf fans in the area to warrant bringing such an event here. 
All I’m asking for everyone to put that aside for this one week and embrace the Ryder Cup the same way you would if the U of L men’s basketball team was going to a Final Four, or the football team had a chance at playing for the national championship.
This week should be reserved for showing the rest of the world how awesome Louisville really is and how we can handle the world’s attention more than just one day per year. This week should be all about showing why Louisville is one of the best sports towns in America.

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