I’m not that big on golf, but I love Tiger Woods. And yes, a large reason for that is that he’s black. Even if he’s not as proud of it as James Brown. (Oops… did I say black? I meant “Cablinasian,” or whatever he said on Oprah to describe himself.) But he’s 25% black… that’s enough for me. And besides, the Racial Draft verified his blackness anyway.
But he won the Buick Open yesterday after missing the cut at the British Open, the last tournament he competed in. It was great to see Tiger back on top of his game. Apparently, however, some people think that Tiger needs to do more than just win.
They think he needs to clean up his manners as well.
Rick Reilly, who writes for ESPN The Magazine, wrote an article about how bad Tiger’s manners are on the golf course. He talked about Tiger’s temper, as he slams down golf clubs after a bad shot, throws the club, curses the club, etc. Reilly describes all of this as very disrespectful. He then writes:
Golf is a gentlemen’s game. Stomping and swearing and carrying on like a Beverly Hills tennis brat might fly in the NBA or in baseball or in football, where less is expected, but golf demands manners. It’s your honor. Is my mark in your way? No, I had 6, not 5. Golfers call penalties on themselves. We are our own police. Tiger, police yourself.
Quite honestly, my initial response to this article wasn’t very warm. In my mind, I immediately began to accuse the writer (who happens to be a Caucasian) of calling out Tiger simply because he’s a black (or Cablinasian) man in a white man’s sport, a “gentlemen’s game.” But then I started to think about it, and I changed my perspective… sort of. Tiger’s not only going to be criticized because he’s black, but also because he’s at the top. And in Tiger’s case, as is often the case, being on top means that you have to be an example, no matter what color you are.
Tiger is a great example in many ways (except he’s not as vocal on the issues as I would like him to be), and he serves as an excellent role model to many people, especially blacks. My parents, who really never watched golf before 1997, were glued to the TV as Tiger won the Masters that year and made history as the first black golfer to win that tournament. And I’m pretty sure that at least my dad (my mom’s still not the biggest sports fan) has watched all of the other 68 titles that Tiger’s won as well.
The 1997 Masters took place 2 weeks before my 8th birthday. Until about my 12th birthday, I’m pretty sure not a day went by when I didn’t hear my parents trying to inspire me with the example of Tiger Woods. Seriously.
So I say all that to say this. I know I’m not the only one that has been inspired by Tiger. I’m sure that, in many other African American households across the country, parents are using Tiger as an example for their own children to follow. An example of what they can be when they grow up. An example that they can do whatever they want to do if they put their mind to it.
Sure… Barack Obama has probably become more of an example than Tiger Woods now. Parents are probably telling their kids at this very moment, “Yes You Can,” and that they should talk out problems with their friends over Juicy Juice Summits (they’re not 21 just yet). But Tiger is still an example, too. And for that reason, he has to be careful about every move that he makes.
The world is still watching, Tiger. Continue to be a good example, in every way.