How will the networks cover LIV golfers at the Masters? CBS Says ‘We Won’t Bury Our Heads In The Sand’

How will broadcasters address – or ignore – the elephant in the room, the ongoing civil war in professional golf with 18 members of LIV Golf competing at the 87th Masters next week?

It was an obvious question, and one that CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus knew he would be asked during the network’s annual Pre-Masters conference call — it will mark the 68th consecutive year that CBS that broadcasts Masters! – with sports journalists. And McManus, who was reluctant to discuss LIV, gave a good answer.

“We will not cover up or hide anything,” he said. “As I have said many times, our job is to cover the golf tournament. We will treat the golfers who have played on the LIV Tour no differently than other golfers. If there is a relevant point or something that we feel should be addressed in our Saturday or Sunday coverage, or in our other coverage throughout the week, we will not bury our heads in the sand.”

It was an interesting phrasing because when asked about it in previous phone calls to journalists, he quickly shut down any discussion of the subject. In a call in January, before the CBS team started its Farmers Insurance Open season, I asked CBS executive producer Sellers Shy if there were any guidelines or rules for his broadcast team regarding LIV Golf and what they said can or not? Before Shy could reply, McManus cut him off. “I don’t want to discuss other golf programs here. I’d like to keep it on CBS.”

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Pressed to get a better sense of what viewers can expect, McManus said only, “He can basically expect coverage of the CBS golf event, and I hope it’s the best in the business.”

McManus had more to say this time, and make no mistake, CBS isn’t going to get involved in the PGA Tour live controversy. “Even so, we won’t bother covering it unless it really impacts the story that takes place on the golf course. I’m not sure if we could add anything to this story as it already exists. It is a factor and we will cover it as needed.”

When asked if there’s a part of him that champions an LIV player competing because of interest in Sunday’s TV show, Shy said, “We’re not cheerleaders here. We only want to cover the golf tournament. Whoever is on that leaderboard, we’re covering them because they’re invited to the Masters.”

When the topic came up again later during the call in a question for Trevor Immelman, the CBS senior analyst said, “The Masters Tournament and Augusta National is bigger than any player that came before, any player that is there now and everyone player who will come in the years to come. That’s what we’re focusing on, doing justice to this tournament and crowning a great champion and putting a green jacket on a great champion on Sunday afternoon.”

Media calls are scheduled for Tuesday with ESPN who will have live coverage of the par 3 competition as well as coverage of the first and second rounds of the tournament and Golf Channel who will be showing numerous ancillary programs so be sure to check back to see see what these networks have to say.

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