Racism and Fried Chicken

You may (of may not) have heard about the brew-ha-ha between the professional golfers Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods. They don’t like each other. That much is clear. After Tiger recently won the Players Championship Garcia complained that Woods had made noise drawing a club from his bag during Sergio’s back-swing — as he was about to hit his drive. Woods later said the Marshalls had told him Garcia had finished his stroke, though the Marshalls later denied having said anything (indeed, why should they say anything?). In any event, Woods complained that Garcia was “whining,” and when later asked if he had given any thought to picking up the phone and suggesting to Sergio that the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot and they should have done with petty quarrels. Woods simply said, “No.” Soon after, Garcia was asked if he was going to have dinner with Woods and the following exchange took place that is now causing a bit of a storm:

COMMENTARY | Sergio Garcia crossed a line Monday he never should have toed.

At the European Tour’s annual gala dinner ahead of its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship in England, Garcia responded to a question asking if he would have dinner with Tiger Woods at next month’s U.S. Open at Merion.

His reply, according to The Guardian: “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

The comment about “fried chicken” is universally regarded as racist, since it alludes to the preference for fried chicken that is stereotypically associated with African-Americans. Fuzzy Zoeller, a lesser player than Garcia, had made a similar comment in 1997 following the Masters Tournament and is still apologizing for it. It is hard to live such a thing down, and Sergio is now busy attempting to back-track, though one suspects we have not heard the last of it. The media will keep it alive as long as possible — perhaps even longer!

But it is hard to like Tiger Woods, despite the fact that he is perhaps the greatest golfer who has ever played the game. His life is an embarrassment, given his sexual preference for a variety of women other than the one he happened to be married to — who also happens to be the mother of his children. All signs suggest that he is a typical self-absorbed American athlete who cares about nothing but himself. He lives the grand life-style so many Americans identify with success and would love to emulate; this may explain his immense popularity, though, here again, we must wonder how people are able to separate the man’s wealth and athletic ability from his character and adulate a man whose every action suggests a dwarfed consciousness limited to self with little or no awareness, much less concern, for his fellow humans. His psychic makeup may be explained, I suppose, by his doting father and mother while an only child growing up and the attention that has been heaped on him subsequently — not to mention the millions of dollars he rakes in each year with his putter and his winning smile. But, again, America’s fascination with this man, who appears almost daily on sports shows even when he is playing badly, defies adequate explanation. In fact, America’s ability to separate an athlete’s on-field behavior from his off-field shenanigans and indiscretions does give one pause. Here again we come back to what makes a person worth admiring: do we really forgive a man or a woman anything if he or she happens to be good at hitting a ball, skiing downhill at breakneck speeds, or dodging would-be tacklers? It appears we do.

In any event, I’m not black, but I like fried chicken and would be happy to join Sergio for a meal. However, I have no desire whatever to sit down to a meal or even a casual chat with Tiger Woods. I don’t like what the man is even though I admire what he can do with a golf club. And it has nothing whatever to do with his race: it’s because of something Martin Luther King spoke about long ago; namely, “the content of his character.”

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8 thoughts on “Racism and Fried Chicken

  1. True, true, true. I will never accept Kobe Bryant either or ever pay for a ticket if he is playing on a basketball floor. OJ Simpson (no comment).

  2. Very interesting Brother Hugh. While I typically avoid television in favor of a long list of other more interesting uses of time, I must confess being drawn to the Saturday/Sunday golf tournaments when Tiger is in contention. He does things, well regularly, with clubs that defies belief…you have to play the game to understand how good he is, how improbable his game. BTM (before the mailbox) I pulled for him…I wanted to see him win; no logic to that, just honest emotion. I could feel it in my being. A young black athlete wins at Augusta? Awesome! ATM (after the mailbox) I still watch, but my hope is to see him lose. To leave a putt short or zing a drive into the trees, or drop an approach in the water. I guess one of my many character flaws is that i want him to be in contention and THEN lose, thinking that harder for HIM. And because I love my grandkids as much as I do? I shield them from watching; that which they will see of excellence in performance the result of hard work? Destroyed in the rubble of character flaws so profound as to suck all joy out of accomplishment. Tiger wins! Who cares? Tiger loses on 18 with a three putt? Justice served!

  3. Sergio made a poor choice of words and now placed the spotlight on himself. Did Tiger make inappropriate noise while Sergio was hitting? I don’t know, but I do know I feel sorry for anyone playing with Tiger as the fans don’t care as much about your play as his. The same happened to those playing with Arnie or Jack. In one of your earlier posts, we discussed our mutual admiration for his talent and drive and a mutual lack of respect for his character. I know Tom Watson took him to ask for showing his temper on the course and Watson was correct. Then comes the philandering and a woman in every port attitude. As we know, our culture likes to pull for a winner as it makes people feel better about themselves. What they don’t realize it matters not. Great post as always, BTG

  4. I’m hobbling along this weekend when surely every single person who has a computer is online for this independence day weekend.. i’ve made it to your page many times but the ‘like’ and comments aren’t working – but alas, i got this one to work!

    i forget about ‘those other sports,’ so i enjoyed reading about the tensions and the wonderment of how the public sees the ‘stars’ through rose-colored glasses..

    z

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