Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is it still golf season?

By: Harvey

Did anybody else wake up this morning and remember that today is the final round of the PGA Tour Championship? You sure wouldn't know it by watching TV or reading the paper. Tiger Woods has knee surgery, and all of a sudden a major championship goes from front-page new to fifth-page news in one particular newspaper my area has to offer.

That's why when people talk about how popular golf has become since Tiger Woods first surfaced, I always correct them. Golf isn't any more popular than it ever was. Tiger Woods is the popular one. People love to see this guy play, and for good reason. He is a one-of-a-kind talent which nobody on this planet can match for an extended period of time. Sure, the Rocco Mediates of the world may occassionally hang with him for three or four rounds, sometimes even managing to beat him, but no one person has ever really come close to matching his output since joining the tour. That includes you, Phil Mickelson.

Maybe this is just how my mind works, but when I think about Tiger Woods' popularity, my next question is always this: would a golfer of Tiger's caliber garner this much attention if he was white? I know the question is a touchy one, and I'm not going to waste a lot of time trying to prove that I'm not some sort of racist — I'm not. It's that simple. You can believe whatever you want; I don't really care.

The question remains, at least in my mind. Does Tiger's popularity hinge at least partially on his ethnicity? I say it has to, because he is the first prominent African-American athlete the tour has ever had. He was and still is an anomaly. Sure, he'd still be popular if he was white because he's a fabulous talent . . . but would he still be on every other cover of Sports Illustrated and have his own video game and all the monster endorsement deals he has? I don't know.

Some would say what difference does it make? It's a good thing to have a non-white golfer attracting this much attention. It's a sign of growing diversity and tolerance in our world. I'm just not so sure. Golf is full of elitist-type folks, and I'm not so sure these guys would tolerate a black man if he wasn't the best golfer in the world. They really have no choice.

There are, after all, plenty of country clubs left in this world that would never dream of accepting a black member. I can't prove that, of course. They may not have it in writing or anything overtly racist like that, but I'd be willing to bet there are dozens acorss the country that are still totally white . . . and not by accident.

I guess my point is this: I have a fear that Tiger Woods is no more a sign of growing tolerance in our country than I am a sign that sports bloggers are really getting more intellectual by the day.

My fear is that Tiger is the first, last and only black man to ever make an impact on this tour. I'm not talking about Vijay Singh, either; I'm talking about American-born and raised black men. Besides Tiger, how many others do you see? Golf isn't really any more diverse than it ever was, and I doubt it is much more popular now among the African-American community than it ever was.

1 comment:

eccentric said...

Yeah good call on Vijay. The dude is the spawn of Indian aristocracy. One should keep in mind that he comes from a people that were dominated by the British for a few hundred years. You will notice that he tends to speak with a touch of a British accent. I am more of a minority than that guy.