Tiger Woods: Great Athlete. Lousy Role Model.

Even before he was outed as a sex-crazed, horndog I was never a fan of Tiger Woods.  It’s not so much that his total lack of political consciousness or his arrogant disdain of the press bugs me  (though it does a little since I mentioned it).  No, why I don’t give a crap about Tiger Woods is because I don’t give a crap about golf.     It’s a boring pasttime engaged in by middle aged White guys dressed in pimp colors. 

That is why it grinds my gears a bit when the Associated Press named Woods the Athlete of the Decade.  Really?  For being able to knock a little ball into a hole in the ground better than anyone else?   It must have been one lousy decade.

It’s not as if I had a rooting interest for the other guys Woods got the nod over (Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Roger Federer,  Tom Brady and Lance Armstrong) , though it does make one ask, where ‘da women at?     Then again, call me cynical, but I suspect why Tiger won has least to do with his excellence at his “sport” and more about the fact that he has raised its profile and made a lot of people besides himself very wealthy.

Few other athletes have changed their sport quite like Woods. His influence has been so powerful that TV ratings soared whenever he played, even more when he has been in contention. Prize money has quadrupled since he joined the PGA Tour because of his broad appeal.

Kind of cuts to the chase as to why Tiger was named Cash Cow of the Decade.   He not only brings a little Calabasian color to a previously White-dominated game, he puts money in the pockets of  other golfers,  sponsors, advertisers and corporations.   That makes one high value House Negro even if he does like chasin’ White tail too much. 

With his current state of affairs, and I mean that in every sense of the word, Tiger’s “broad appeal” (or is that appeal to broads?) is likely not to be so much when he returns to competition—whenever that might be.     Tiger won’t have to worry about me thinking any less of him.   I never thought much of him before his life blew up messily and publicly. 

"I don't think a presidential pardon will help, Tiger."

When it comes to withering contempt for golf,  I place somewhere between Mark Twain’s dismissal of golf as “a good walk spoiled” and George Carlin’s scorched earth disdain for it.

. Golf is an arrogant, elitist game and it takes up entirely too much room in this country…It is an arrogant game on its very design alone. Just the design of the game speaks of arrogance. Think of how big a golf course is. The ball is that fucking big! What do these pinheaded pricks need with all that land? There are over 17,000 golf courses in America. They average over 150 acres apiece. That’s 3 million plus acres, 4,820 square miles. You could build two Rhode Islands and a Delaware for the homeless, on the land currently being wasted on this meaningless, mindless, arrogant, elitist, racist – there’s another thing: the only blacks you’ll find in country clubs are carrying trays – and a boring game. Boring game for boring people. Have you ever watched golf on television? It’s like watching flies fuck…Now I know there are some people who play golf who don’t consider themselves rich. Fuck ’em! And shame on them for engaging in an arrogant, elitist pastime.

Tiger isn’t anything special to me.  I can’t even bring myself to think of golf as a genuine sport.   However, I know there are plenty of Black people who love to watch him play and cheer him on.   They are simply a bit more willing than I am to ignore Tiger’s lack of social consciousness  and unwillingness to be identified as a Black man than I am.  

Even before his world turned into a treasure trove of tabloid headlines and porn skanks, Tiger fit right in with the arrogant elitism of golf.   If he feels he has no reason to champion anyone else’s cause I respect his right not to do so.   But is it asking too much to expect Tiger to be a champion of bringing more color into the game?

Eddie Payton, the brother of Walter and the golf coach at Jackson State University looks at the Athlete of the Decade and shakes his head in disappointment.  “For the first time in memory, there is not one African-American high school golfer in America that will be an impact player that can change the fortunes of our program,” he says.

Payton believes Woods could do more to help aspiring Black golfers.

Woods is more than just the best golfer.  He’s the only African-American golfer on the tour.  So much for the idea that all those kids saying, “I am Tiger Woods” in the commercial would end up following in his footsteps on the golf course.  Tiger, like his good buddy Charles Barkley, never claimed to be a role model.  Unlike Barkley though, being very good at what he does and being the only Black man doing it makes him a role model whether he wants to be or not.

“It’s a shame that the person who can do the most to bridge the gap says, ‘I made it. Now you make it,'” Payton says. “Instead he could say, ‘Well this is what my daddy taught me. These are the drills.’  

“There are people that can be motivated to be Tiger Woods with a little help and encouragement from him. The people you idolize and emulate can have the greatest influence on what you’re doing.  “I can’t make him do what I feel I would do, but at some point he’ll look and see no other blacks out there.”

I’m sure Tiger has noticed there’s no other blacks out there with him playing professional golf.  He just doesn’t care.

To paraphrase Public Enemy, Tiger was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me. 

There are many whom have admired Tiger Woods in the past whom in the wake of the revelations and allegations of his sexual affairs are now feeling disappointment in him.   They’re only arriving where some of us have already been.