|Don't be a PGA Tour Pig|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
To me, there's nothing worse than when a black man makes so much money that he conveniently forgets what all transpired and who all died so that he could enjoy American freedom.
I'm not talking about dating preference, a home in the suburbs, political party, or dressing and talking sufficient hip hop. Those things have little or nothing to do with "keepin' it real."
What I'm talking about is: when a black man is elevated to a position of influence, has a chance to make a stand consistent with equal opportunity and chooses instead to come across as a redneck in blackface.
Instead, when asked to comment on Sorenstam's one-tournament inclusion on the PGA Tour, Vijay chose to impersonate Fuzzy Zoeller and display a sexist, Sorenstam-is-beneath-me contempt that I found embarrassing.
"If I'm drawn with her, which I won't be, I won't play,'' Singh told the Associated Press. "I hope she misses the cut. Why? Because she doesn't belong out here.''
Vijay offered a half-hearted apology Tuesday afternoon. He said he was taken out of context and that he didn't mean to personally attack Sorenstam. Yeah, and Fuzzy was thrilled that Tiger won the Masters.
Charles Barkley, the Round Mound Brown Clown of Nothing Profound, could've just as easily avoided taking a slap at Sorenstam during a Tuesday interview on ESPN. Instead, after offering his opinion that Sorenstam didn't belong in The Colonial, Barkley finished off his sound bite by dismissing Sorenstam as a "girl, babe, chick." Look, I use those terms all the time. But Barkley was clearly using the words as a way of putting Sorenstam in her place. He laughed as he said it. In his mind, it was all just a big joke, Sorenstam shouldn't even be taken seriously. It was demeaning and unnecessary. Had someone done the same thing to Tiger Woods, the Brown Clown would scream racism.
Now Vijay isn't from this country. But it's difficult for me to believe that he's so stupid that he's unaware that his original words and his contempt mirror the sentiments of the bigots who once kept men of Vijay's complexion from playing professional sports and enjoying everyday American freedoms.
Obviously, there are differences between Sorenstam and Jackie Robinson. Annika will never earn a living on the PGA Tour. She'll never be good enough. This isn't about opening professional doors for women golfers. This isn't akin to the civil-rights movement.
What it is is two things: 1. A chance for the greatest female golfer to test herself against men on a course that sets up well for golfers who don't hit it all that long. 2. A TV-ratings-generating publicity stunt.
There's not a damn thing offensive or threatening to the men on the PGA Tour about either one.
There's no justification for the contempt or animosity that Vijay displayed. Only a sexist, brainless pig could work up any emotion about Sorenstam spending a weekend playing with the men on a sponsor's exemption. And yes, I find it doubly offensive that a dark-skinned man standing on American soil would suggest that he'd rather not participate in a trivial event than share a platform with a woman.
Unlike the team sports TV shows -- NBA, NFL, MLB, the Iraq War, etc. -- no one can argue that Sorenstam's participation on the tour will hurt any of the other contestants' chances of winning. She's no different than a female race-car driver, a female horse jockey.
So what if Sorenstam didn't qualify and is participating on a sponsor's exemption? So what if she has no chance of competing? She won't be the first or the last exempt golfer to tee off in a PGA Tour event who has zero chance of competing. You still think Arnold Palmer poses a threat? But golf fans turn out and tune in to see Palmer's old ass shoot 90.
And that's what Vijay Singh and the other PGA Tour Pigs should be concerned with. Will people turn out and tune in to see Annika wilt under the pressure? We watched her fold at Little Big Horn. She'll probably fold at The Colonial. Big deal.
The reaction to Annika's participation reminds me of the reaction to Tiger's ascension. The PGA Tour Pigs were so filled with jealousy (and bigotry) that they didn't realize how much money Tiger was going to bring to the tour. Obviously, Annika won't have Tiger's financial impact. But her cameo appearance on the weekend daytime soap opera, "The PGA Tour Pigs Show," will boost ratings and line pockets. It's the equivalent of landing Liz Taylor for an episode of the "Love Boat."
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.