Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:19 AM

Tiger’s Back! But He’s Brown, Not Black…?!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

0131_patriotsTrying to get coverage of any sports event during Super Bowl Media Day is about as futile as trying to get ratings for any TV show during the Super Bowl game itself. That is, unless you’re Tiger Woods.

Traditional fans got their panties in a twist yesterday because I insinuated (in a commentary on Lance Armstrong) that the rise in Golf’s popularity over the past decade had more to do with interest in Tiger Woods than in the game itself…

[B]ut there has always been a direct correlation between how well Tiger is playing (if he’s playing at all) and TV ratings for Golf. More to the point, this correlation has been on a downward trend for almost five years – ever since Tiger’s well-publicized personal troubles off the course began causing professional problems for him on it.

(“Golf: more About Tiger than the Game Itself,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 25, 2014)

In fact, the breakdown of his marriage seemed to trigger a breakdown not only of his game, but of his body too.

Apropos of the latter, you probably know that Tiger had been rehabbing his lower back since last August. Well, he held a press conference on Tuesday (Super Bowl Media Day) to announce his (latest) return to PGA competition.

Tiger knows better than anyone that he will not be able to fully redeem his professional reputation until he wins another five Majors (i.e., from among the Masters in April, U.S. Open in June, British Open in July, and PGA Championship in August).

(“Tiger Won…Finally,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 5, 2011)

635579615378926783-PNI-phxopen-main-0128-Tuesday-aTrue to form, he not only got coverage, but there were more media stories about Tiger than any Football player, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (now of “deflate-gate” infamy). Of course no other golfer got honorable mention, let alone full media coverage of his press conference.

Tiger tees off in Arizona today for the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But I have an old bone to pick with him, which I hint at in my headline above. It stems from the farcical turn his press conference took when reporters began asking more questions about his teeth than his back (or his game, God forbid).

Tiger explained that a cameraman knocked out two front teeth last week when, dressed in disguise, he got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the media scrum at a skiing event at Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy.

But that “ouch” moment soon became an “awwww” moment when he said he just wanted to be there to support girlfriend Lindsey Vonn – as she tried to become the winningest female skier in World Cup history – without causing any distraction.

Unfortunately, that “awwww” moment soon became a “WTF” moment when he quipped:

I was trying to blend in. There’s not a lot of brown dudes at ski races.

(CBS Sport, January 27, 2015)

Phoenix Open Woods Tooth Golf-2Interestingly enough, most reporters cited this quip as evidence of a more endearing Tiger. Yahoo Sports captured their take on his press conference with this gushing headline just hours later:

Tiger’s tooth is back, and so is his sense of humor.

I suspect, however, that this take prevailed among them only because, well, there’s not a lot of black dudes covering Golf. I know for certain that his quip incited nothing but visceral indignation in this black dude.

Here, in part, is why:

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley gave Tiger the race cred he so desperately coveted. This was especially the case after he made a racial eunuch, if not a public spectacle, of himself in 1997 – by insisting that he considers himself not black but Cablinasian: a portmanteau of Caucasian (Ca), black (bl), Indian (in), and Asian (asian). And I’m sure he found validation in the fact that they both shared his penchant for gambling and White women of easy virtue.

(“Blaming Tiger’s Homeboys…,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 1, 2010)

tigerg-300x274I chalked up that Cablinasian nonsense to Tiger just having mischievous fun with the media – whom he regards, with good reason, as little more than a necessary menace. But this latest attempt to deny his racial identity smacks more of pathology than mischief.

Have you ever heard any Black American (even one of mixed race like Barack Obama) call himself Brown or any shade thereof?

I fear Tiger is suffering some form of self-hate, which makes it difficult for him to see himself as the black man everyone else sees. Hell, even British actor Benedict Cumberbatch showed more racial awareness, when he referred to blacks as “Colored” people during an interview last week. Ironically, his interviewer was no less a person than black activist Tavis Smiley, and they were discussing no less a topic than the lack of black roles in Hollywood….

No doubt Tiger thinks he’s only expressing pride in his “uniqueness.” Except that I have yet to meet a black American who cannot (indeed does not) claim some Caucasian, Indian, and Asian in his racial makeup. This is why Tiger’s determination to assign himself a special racial category just makes him look unique in a pathetic and pitiful way.

may4_01masters_600x399_0Not to mention that “I’m brown and I’m proud” is just too ahistorical, if not downright alien, for words.

Some will argue that interest in Tiger should be based on how he plays, not on what he says. I fully appreciate that. But, as indicated in my first quote above, interest in Tiger was never based just on how he plays.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet my life savings that at least 75 percent of Tiger’s fans are like me: people (black and white … and Asian et al) who began watching Golf only because they reveled in seeing a black player master a sport traditionally dominated by White players. Trust me, if he were just another white guy doing all that, Golf would still be no more popular than Skiing.

10940991_10153196169359728_4755930651001107155_nSpeaking of which, I should mention that the “awwww” moment I referenced earlier had a happy ending: Lindsey broke the record for World Cup victories with her 63rd.

This means that, henceforth, my interest in Tiger’s career will no longer be as a black reveling with abiding racial pride. Instead, it will be as a man watching with fleeting gender solidarity as he tries to one-up his girlfriend: by becoming not just the winningest golfer in PGA history (he has 79, Sam Snead holds the record with 82), but also the holder of the most Majors (he has 14, Jack Nicklaus holds the record with 18).

Mind you, Tiger can call himself anything he wants; although, I shudder to think what he’s teaching the two kids he had with his blonde Swedish ex-wife to call themselves. It’s just that my racial pride is such that I cannot revel in the accomplishments of any black sportsman who I suspect would rather be anything but black.

In any event, bear this in mind:

Tiger is 35. So he can probably compete, physically, for another five years. But if he still hasn’t won his 15th major by this time next year, then I fear he will never be able to compete well enough, mentally, to dethrone Jack Nicklaus…

But, to give you a sense of how difficult it is for one player to dominate the majors the way Tiger once did, just bear in mind that the last 13 major championships have been won by 13 different players.

(“Tiger, Tiger … Losing Fight,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 15, 2011)

I wrote that four years ago folks; and he still hasn’t won his 15th major. Given the above, it may just be that, at this point in his life, he needs to find himself before he can find his game….

Related commentaries:
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