Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tiger hits one out of bounds by not taking a stand

Last Friday while discussing Tiger Woods dominance on air with analyst Nick Faldo Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman suggested the young players on the PGA Tour should “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley” to increase their chances of winning.

The following day Tilghman issued what she deemed an apology to Tiger: "I have known Tiger for 12 years and I have apologized directly to him. I also apologize to our viewers who may have been offended by my comments."

Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg said Tilghman and his client are “friends” and it’s a “closed case.”

I’m sorry. “Friends” don’t make statements like that on the air and this situation is far from a “closed case” in my mind.

White media personalities feel they can make racist comments and essentially get away with it. Don Imus makes his “nappy headed ho’s” statement and he’s behind the microphone eight months later.

After internal discussions the Golf Channel decided on January 10th to suspend Tilghman for two weeks. Two weeks? She should be canned.

Tilghman’s statement resonates with racism-much more than Imus’s blunder. Essentially Tilghman is suggesting Tiger should be killed so he can’t continue to stake his claim in the white world of golf.

Lynchings are something you don’t joke about especially in front of millions of mostly white viewers. Many African Americans post-slavery well into the 1960’s were lynched for demanding the rights their white counterparts enjoyed.

I gathered info on lynchings from Tuskegee Institute. From 1882 to 1968 there were 3273 reported lynchings. Many more African Americans were slain but were not documented.

Many of those racist who administered the lynchings walked free. It’s hard to comprehend why Michael Vick gets sentenced 23 months for killing dogs yet many whites never saw a jail cell for lynching human beings.

I don’t believe Tilgman’s statement was a mistake. Her idiotic comment had to come from within. I seriously doubt it was entailed on her script for millions to witness.

If she talks about lynching African Americans on the air I wonder what she says during station breaks.

I think Tilgman’s comments echo what some whites in the golf world feel but are afraid to say publicly: they can’t stand to see an African American dominate a sport that’s historically been a whites-only club.

Now the controversy he’s rigorously tried to avoid has finally claimed Tiger. He can’t dodge this slur because it was aimed straight for him.

I’m disappointed in Tiger. Oh, I’m sorry, “Uncle Tiger.” I know he doesn’t want to be but Tiger is an African American male in white America. Charles Barkley, a friend of Tiger’s, suggested he needs to take stands because, “Asians don’t get hate mail.”

Tiger went the MJ route. He’s cut from the same accommodating cloth as Michael Jordan: neither had the guts to take social stands.

Tiger stands on the shoulders of many African Americans who came before him. African American activists in society and sports paid the price for the success Tiger now enjoys. He can make changes across this country that’ll be thunderous but he’s not willing to sacrifice huckstering Buicks and making Phil Knight rich at Nike.

Today there are no Jackie Robinson’s, Muhammad Ali’s, or Jim Brown’s to lean on. Pioneers sacrificed so the new-age African American athlete can flourish today.
They wouldn’t accept statements like Tilghmans’ and turn the other cheek like Tiger.

In my opinion Tiger not taking a stand is comparable to the Golf Channels unwillingness to fire Tilghman. In both instances the lynching statement is being endorsed by both parties because no real action has been taken.

Tiger will ultimately go down as the best golfer of all time- it’s just too bad his greatness will probably not extend beyond the golf courses he now dominates.