In a recent interview with Politico, President Bush admitted that he had given up golf in deference to the families who have lost a loved one in Iraq.
"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."
Bush's remarks, which have received widespread condemnation, are more apt than he realizes. The game of golf itself is a metaphor for constructive human activity and recapitulates the human experience of our historical transformation from hunter-gatherers to cultivators. Golf as a metaphor stands in opposition to the realities of war, which is the ultimate destructive human activity.
For those who are not addicted to the playing or to the viewing of grown men chasing a tiny ball across an enormous lawn, the appeal of golf may be hard to understand. However, if we look at golf in terms of its media ecology, its attraction can be better understood.
The playing of golf is a linear, one-at-a-time activity that was well suited to the biases of the print era in which it was created. It is not an accident that golf was first conceived in Scotland and became popular just as the printing press was converting the Anglo-Saxon manuscript culture into a print culture. With its one thing at a time play and its linear progression, golf reflects the one at a time linear experience of reading. Golf stands out against all other sports in that the goal is to minimize scoring, not maximize it. In a similar fashion, reading text minimizes the context of language, removing the normal cues of intonation, inflection and volume.