Republished from 2008.
I've loved sports my entire life. Since my youngest years, I've enjoyed the drama, inspiration and competition in athletic endeavors. My earliest sports memories are of baseball. Long before the Internet and cable television, I'd spend warm summer evenings tuned in on a transistor radio to hear my hometown Tigers play the Indians across Lake Erie in Cleveland.
As the years passed, I began to gain an appreciation for many other sports: football, Olympic events, basketball, hockey, and many others, including a game with a long, storied--and at times controversial--history, golf. Some of my first recollections of golf are of learning about Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus, titans of the game who shaped most of its history in the 20th century.
While Palmer, Hogan, and Nicklaus were interesting because of their unique talents, to a 10-year-old they seemed rather, well... boring. They went about their business, won tournaments, but didn't always seem to have much fun in doing so. Chi-Chi Rodríguez, on the other hand, was always about fun.
Chi-Chi personified the idea that it was possible to play golf at a high level and still have a great time. The 22-time Champions Tour winner jokes with everyone, from tour executives to course marshals. He always has a smile on his face. And of course, most people remember him for his signature dance when making a birdie or an eagle. Chi-Chi famously swings his putter toward the hole as though he is wielding a sword, then in his best Don Quixote impression, forces the putter back into the imaginary scabbard attached to his waist.
When I was an impressionable youngster, Chi-Chi Rodríguez was absolutely my most favorite golfer. He seems like a genuinely nice guy (as much as can be understood about someone based on what the media present), and someone who would be much more fun to hang out with than Nicklaus, Tom Watson, or others. In recent years, Chi-Chi has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts. Based on a brief encounter with Mother Teresa, Chi-Chi was inspired to help others, and started the Chi-Chi Rodríguez Youth Foundation for at-risk children. He also will be an inaugural inductee into the World Humanitarian Hall of Fame. The induction is a worthy accomplishment for someone who has given so much to his community, and served as an inspiration for many.
So, given all these wonderful things about Chi-Chi Rodríguez and how much I admire what he's accomplished over the years, you might wonder why he is the subject of this article. The answer is relatively simple: H. Res 1029. In another act of Washington waste, the House of Representatives introduced H. Res 1029: Congratulating and recognizing Mr. Juan Antonio "Chi-Chi" Rodriguez for his continued success on and off of the golf course, for his generosity and devotion to charity, and for his exemplary dedication to the intellectual and moral growth of thousands of low-income and disadvantaged youth in our country on March 6, 2008.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) sponsored the bill. This is a follow-up to his bill last year, H. Res. 577: Congratulating Mr. Kermit Cintron on the successful defense of his IBF welterweight title [boxing] on Saturday, July 14, 2007, and for his continued success in and out of the ring. The bill had 52 co-sponsors. I'm curious to know how much time it takes to obtain the names of 52 other people to agree to co-sponsor a bill. I'm guessing the answer is more than five minutes.
The bill was scheduled for debate on June 12, 2008, and speeches were given on June 17, 2008, by Rep. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), and Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.). I'm glad to see the House of Representatives provides equal opportunity among both the Republican and Democratic party members to waste time when this country faces so many pressing matters. [For those who are sports-knowledgeable, insert your own joke here about how Rep. Shuler's speeches are longer than his career with the Redskins and Saints.]
Of this group, we had a grand total of four Representatives (Gutiérrez, Davis, Shuler, Baca) tell us Chi-Chi Rodríguez won eight PGA Tour titles. Did we really need four different speakers to tell the American people Chi-Chi won eight titles? Wouldn't one have sufficed? Or maybe I could have looked it up on Wikipedia if I was really interested to know. I'm just not sure why we are spending taxpayer money to create such bills, bring them up for debate and vote. For your information, the bill passed 415-0 on June 19, 2008, with 19 not voting.
Winner of the "Groan Award" for H. Res 1029 is Rep. Darrell Issa of California. The Groan Award goes to the politician who best uses a completely unrelated situation to push his or her own agenda. While giving his speech for Chi-Chi Rodríguez, Rep. Issa said the following:
"Earlier, the gentleman from Florida talked about Florida and Chi-Chi Rodriguez' activities there in Clearwater. Florida brings to mind that, when you talk about a man of energy, just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, China and Cuba are now issuing contracts that are going to allow for drilling, for drilling closer to America than we allow, just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, in fact, without the kind of safeguards that American companies would use.
So when I think of Florida and I think of a man of energy, I think of the energy that is being kept away from the American people, energy that would keep our dollars from flowing to countries less friendly to us, energy that would make us self-sufficient and self-reliant, and energy that would heat our homes and fuel our cars at a cost far less than what we are paying today."
Who knew it was possible to interject a conversation about offshore drilling in a speech congratulating a professional golfer? Hey, here's a novel idea... how about the House schedules an after-hours event honoring Chi-Chi Rodríguez's incredible accomplishments (funded by the Representatives' personal funds), and spends business hours discussing important issues such as offshore drilling.
Maybe it's too much to ask of our elected officials to actually stay focused. Oh wait, I've got to go... it's my tee time.