It's been a relatively slow couple of days in golf after the Tiger and Sergio fried chicken debacle.
There was an interesting bit last week about Luke Donald finally getting (essentially) delivery of the cow he won at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan last year. The cow was worth about $80,000 being a special Miyazaki cow.
There was also the follow-up to Sergio's race-relations expertise by European Tour chief George O'Grady saying that Sergio has many 'colored friends'.
But, in reality, although I live in New York, the best story anywhere over the last couple days has been the saga of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. The mayor of Canada's largest city and financial capital has allegedly been captured on video smoking crack with known drug dealers. The drug dealers are asking to be paid for the video and thus Gawker started their "Crackstarter" campaign to buy the video for $200,000.
Here's The Daily Show's take:
While it makes for hilarious, entertaining and amazing reading (and surreal politics), it is ultimately just embarrassing for someone born and raised in the city.
To make the point as clearly as possible, I created a handy illustration summarizing the mayors of the major city in each of the major industrialized countries of the world. Good god.
I'm angry with Sergio Garcia.
Tiger should obviously be upset. First of all, he's Thai not Chinese so it's completely inappropriate to lump him in with billions of fried-chicken eating fanatics (in fact, based on current trends, China should pass the U.S. for number of KFCs in 2013). It is offensive to assume that Asians can be lumped together like that and thus imply that they all look the same (you can test yourself here). We certainly all know Thais are not known for fried chicken and prefer chicken curried or in pad thai (or do Thai people just call it "pad"?). The point is Sergio ... wait ... what?
Sergio, Sergio, Sergio.
Garcia ruined a good feud by introducing the most sensitive of all topics in the United States: African-American race relations.
I have no idea if Garcia is racist, not racist, stupid or ignorant of race issues in the United States. As we've said before, golfers and athletes are not and should not be the source of integrity and moral standing. Of course, that is not to say we shouldn't care if Garcia is a racist: that would be ignoring the fact people do look up to athletes and do look to them as role models. Certain things matter about a person other than golf. This would be one of them.
We certainly hope Garcia is not a racist. It's not really possible to root for that person. Generally, he seemed contrite at his press conference this morning and thankfully didn't qualify his apologies in any way. From all accounts I've read of people that now him, they don't believe that he's racist.
In terms of Sergio's specific comment, Tiger appears ready to move on based on comments from his Twitter account later the same evening (in stark contrast to Fuzzy Zoeller whom Tiger let twist in the wind by remaining silent). Woods essentially let Sergio off the hook last night.
Anyway, as much as we'd like to move on, this will continue to linger because of the sensitivity of the topic.
My initial reaction was: How racist is the comment really? We all love fried chicken so maybe African-Americans should own this stereotype in order to diffuse it. Sort of a reverse psychology. Plus, how and why could it be derogatory to be stereotyped for loving something we all adore? After all, the New York Times within the past two years have on three separate occasions instructed readers how to make fried chicken (here, here and most recently last week). If that's not proof we all love fried chicken, I don't know what is. This is not the Grand Forks Herald we're talking about but the high-brow NY Times Dining Section that, let's face it, has been known to cater to the Northeast liberal effete elite (albeit appropriately at times).
Of course it is not that simple. There is too much baggage, history and malice behind something as apparently innocent as fried chicken. Until the targets of such idiocy no longer care (i.e. no longer feel any malice or bigotry), then we are going to have to go on with these "learning moments."
As usual, let's turn to Dave Chappelle to confirm our understanding of race issues in America.
There is a Latin expression in the legal world: res ipsa loquitar. Literally, it translates to "the thing itself speaks." To overly simplify, it essentially means the result speaks for itself or proves the point. Consider it the Latin version of "just take a look and this mess -- do I need to say anything more?"
In some ways, it was essentially the tact the USGA and R&A took when they confirmed and implemented new Rule 14-1b banning the anchored stroke. Of course, they were not that concise and provided a 40-page explanation that looked a lot like a legal memorandum. It's actually very well written (if the same people responsible for this had handled Vijay Singh's deer antler spray situation, the PGA Tour would likely not made a lawsuit, albeit still dumb, so easy to file). Despite the long and technical legal nature and structure of this dissertation, what underlies the whole tins is what we all know deep down. The anchored stroke looks and feels wrong and is just not golf.
The USGA & R&A start with a clever approach by saying it doesn't matter whether or not the statistics show it makes putting easier. That is not the point. The only issue is whether if has the potential to do so and more importantly, whether it is a stroke within the nature of golf from s subjective sense. A telling quote is:
The concept of intentionally immobilizing one end of the golf club against the body, in a manner equivalent to creating a physical attachment point to use as a fixed fulcrum or pivot point around which the club can be swung, is a substantial departure from that traditional understanding of the golf swing. Reduced to its most basic elements, golf involves a player swinging a club at a ball to move it toward and ultimately into a hole. The player’s most basic challenge is to direct and control the movement of the entire club in making that swing. Anchoring the club while making a stroke also involves a challenge, but it is a different one, in which the player uses the immobilization and stability of one end of the club as an essential component of the method of stroke. It is not the same as freely swinging the club.
The application of the rule itself is summarized in this handy USGA video:
Poor Tiger Woods. The guy just can't catch a break. He wins the PLAYERS Championship last week and most of the discussion this week has been about his drop on the 14th hole on Sunday and how awkward he looks hugging Linsey Vonn.
Granted, the picture does looks less like a hug and more like Vonn trying remove the price tag off the back of the shirt ... of his likeness at Madame Tussauds wax museum.