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As Long as We Remember...

February 23, 2010

Enough Tiger Woods

Roy Meachum

Unlike movie stars and rock musicians, Tiger Woods’ celebrity does not rest on his popularity; quite the contrary. There’re a number of tournament ticket buyers who put up money with the hope they were on hand when the golf champion crashes. It’s a verity of every human endeavor, especially true of minorities.


An old European saying: “You don’t need enemies, if you have a Hungarian for a friend.” It probably dates from the Austrian empire when Magyars – as they call themselves – were the largest non-German speaking bloc. The days when kings and princes ruled triumphantly, darker-skinned Gypsies incurred a special mistrust and prejudice. Africans rated a novelty, because of their rarity.


Every Russian schoolchild knows: Their most famous poet’s Grandfather Hannibal was seized on Africa’s east coast and presented as a boy toy to Tsar Peter the Great. Not incidentally, revered poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin attributed his many sexual conquests to his Negritude.


Indeed, part of Tiger Woods’ mystique doubtless derived from his very dark color. And while we’re up, the Williams sisters’ tennis fame especially appeals to the mainstream media because they’re black. In these cases, their color gives them a particular cachet in sports once reserved for country clubs, in popular thought reserved for the rich and white and Christian.


When John Kennedy became president we learned of Boston clubs that posted signs forbidding Negroes and Irish, using the specific nationality rejected Catholics. No one had to say Jewish; everybody knew the tony precincts were off-limits to them.


When Tiger Woods indulged in marital infidelity evidently on large scale, men and women – of all color and ethnic caste – responded furiously, I gather from the press. They were no longer blinded by their marvel that an African American pulled off such feats. By general acclaim, he’s probably the most accomplished and famous golfer of all time. Recent events can’t change that.


Mr. Woods did not put himself on a pedestal. Celebrity worshippers did that all by themselves. When they heard of infidelity to his wife, he became just another Jack Johnson. The first colored heavyweight boxing world champion was widely hated for flaunting segregation laws; he took a white wife.


Mr. Johnson finally “lost” to Jess Willard; a famous photo captured the new ex-champ stretched out in the ring but holding his gloves up to shield his face from the glaring lights. According to the picture, he faked his knockdown and kept his eyes tightly closed during the referee’s count.


While consultants obviously advised Mr. Woods’ media appearance going into the weekend, it was a mistake! They might have hoped golf’s greatest champion appearing before cameras would save a sponsor; it had the opposite effect. It kicked off another furor, especially since they decided he wouldn’t take questions from the voracious press. The risky trick attracted the media’s mixed reaction.


One Washington Post sports columnist attacked his discipline while he made the apology. She begged the question: Reaching his heights, how could he not practice immense self-control? Another paper’s writer decried the very nature of his public apology, saying he owed his wife any mea culpa.


Exactly. And only his wife.


Let’s face it: His humility and contrition were mustered on public display in hopes of saving his marriage; I doubt that will happen. She is too elevated, both a beauty and daughter to famous Swedes; she will take him for a boodle.


And Tiger Wood should recognize his critics for what they are: a bunch of self-serving, sniveling critters who will stop talking and writing about him only when he loses big.


He could follow Jack Johnson’s famous example. Having so much money in his pocket he could fake a losing season, absorb the public humiliation and get on with life, including winning in his inimitable style. Incidentally, that might bring on marital reconciliation by shrinking public exposure to the marriage.


Incidentally, I regard viewing golf as tantamount to watching grass grow.


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