The new ethical quandary Augusta National finds itself in is adding some extra sizzle to the Masters.
The club is adamant that it has the legal right to bar women from becoming members.
And that’s true. No one is arguing with that.
What everyone is arguing, including President Obama and Mitt Romney, is that it’s time for Augusta to recognise that the world has changed (for the better) and voluntarily start offering memberships to women.
Augusta LOVES to offer memberships to rich and super-powerful CEOs, especially the rich and super-powerful CEOs of companies who sponsor the Masters.
That’s why the Club has offered membership to the last 4 CEOs of IBM.
But now IBM has gone and appointed a woman CEO.
And now we’re hearing all the usual arguments about how Augusta has “traditions” and how there are “men’s bathrooms” in the world and so on.
Well, there used to be “black bathrooms,” too. Those were quite “traditional” once upon a time. (If Augusta National had had black members, it presumably would have had them.)
And Augusta National is obviously not just a local bowling alley where men gather to hoist a few on guys’ night out. It’s a “national” club that prides itself on having only the country’s most powerful and rich people as members. And some (many?) of those members are lousy golfers, so membership is certainly not about the golf.
The world has changed a lot since Augusta National was founded. When “traditions” become outdated, which they often do, traditions should be changed.
And Augusta, of course, knows that.
When golf equipment got better and scores started going lower, Augusta rushed to change the “traditional” length of the course. And it keeps changing that “tradition” whenever necessary, to make sure that the pros don’t embarrass the club by shooting too low.
Thanks to IBM’s confidence in CEO Virginia Rometty, Augusta finally has a chance to gracefully change another tradition–and, in so doing, do the right thing.
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