It was a script that had a storybook ending.
Michael Jordan called it the greatest comeback he has ever seen. Through all the trials and tribulations, all the ridicule and mocking, all the bad press and humiliating coverage, Tiger Woods shocked the world as he warded off an onslaught of more youthful stars and claimed his first major title in over a decade.
This victory was captured in a single moment that you had to be without a heartbeat or a pulse not to feel at least a little warm inside as Tiger Woods and his son passionately embraced each other in triumphant. As a father, I can honestly say that it almost made my allergies start acting up. The scene was also reminiscent of Tiger and his late father Earl Woods back in 1997 who gave each other the biggest bear hug live on camera after Tiger won at Augusta for the first time. It was a poetic end to a tumultuous time for Tiger Woods.
Couple that with the fact that he won the masters on a course that was literally built on a slave plantation and on a course that didn’t have a Black golfer even compete in until Lee Elder in 1975. Tiger was victorious at a club, Augusta National, who didn’t even have a Black member until 1990 so witnessing triumph in a space where people who look like me and like Tiger Woods have not been welcome was special in itself.
Couple that with this clip of a young Tiger telling a reporter who asked “what’s the tournament that really captures your imagination” and Tiger answering with “The Masters” and when the reporter asked why is that, you see a confident wet behind the ears Tiger Woods boldly answer “because of how Blacks have been treated there, like they shouldn’t be there, and if I win this tournament it would be definitely be big for us” and you hear the reporter abruptly end the interview and say “well good luck anyways”
Couple that with a history of publicly expressed racist remarks and jeers that Tiger has been forced to endure with includes Fuzzy Zeller’s racist statements in 1997 about then 21 year old Tiger Woods which he called a “joke” as if jokes can’t be racist
"He's doing quite well, pretty impressive. That little boy is driving well and he's putting well. He's doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it. Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."
Kelly Tilghman’s sick and sadistic racist remark in 2008 during a broadcast on The Golf Channel with Nick Faldo saying on air that younger golfers were going to have to "gang up" on Tiger to be able to take him off his perch as best in the world. Tilghman laughingly responded that they were going to have to "lynch him in a back alley."
And Sergio Garcia’s racist response to reporters in 2013 when he was asked about whether or not he would consider hosting Tiger at the 2013 U.S. Open. He told reporters that he would and added
"We will have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken"
Couple that with mainstream media building Tiger up to be this super human golf Superman, just to tear him down as they almost joyfully exposed his kryptonite. It appeared as though the media and many in Mainstream America were almost cheering when he didn’t perform at a “Tiger Woods” level of domination and they sneered him with taunts and satire. I even saw someone in the crowd wearing a shirt with a picture of him in a mugshot.
And now, Tiger Woods was finally able to wallow in the satisfaction of reprisal like Arya Stark with her needle sword as she got her revenge on everyone who meant her nothing but harm. This was Tiger’s moment to bask in his glory.
But even with all of that, I found it extremely difficult to fully embrace the moment because.....there’s the other side that is lurking around the corner to meet me much to my surprise like Jaimie Lannister locking eyes with Bran Stark
The fact that Tiger Woods has aligned himself unapologetically with Donald Trump is especially troubling to me personally. Now, let me say I have absolutely no problem with Tiger Woods voicing a political opinion that differs from mine. I’m not that person who wants to silence anyone who has an opinion or supports a position that I don’t agree with and attempt to discredit them, or demean them, or personally attack them in any way shape or form. Just as I applaud Lebron James and Steph Curry and the entire Golden State Warriors team coach Steve Kerr included for taking the stance that they didn’t want to attend the White House after their championship because their politics didn’t align with Trump’s, I also have to support somebody like Tom Brady’s choice to not want to attend when President Obama was in office because that’s his right, even if I don’t agree with it. If I don’t, I fall into the same category of a Laura Ingrahm who told Lebron and KD to shut up and dribble simply because their opinion differs from hers, and I am completely against that as a whole. But that being said, I do believe that we should as President Obama always said be able to, “disagree without being disagreeable” and I have the right to disagree with anyone on planet earth as long as I remain respectful and avoid personal attacks and simply stick to the issues in which we have a different opinion.
When you align yourself with someone like Donald Trump, who is exactly what former ESPN Commentator Jemele Hill said which is a white supremacist or a supporter of white supremacy and white nationalism and proud of it.
When you boast about being longtime friends with him, when you accept the Presidential Medal Of Freedom award that he is giving you at least in part because of your professed allegiance to him, you are in fact choosing a side. Donald Trump has a history of wanting to inject himself and praise the people especially the Black people, who publicly praise him. So Donald Trump will publicly support Jim Brown and Kanye West and Steve Harvey and Ray Lewis and Tiger Woods because they have publicly praised him and he will use them as his “Black Friend” who agrees with him and supports him and loves him (which I still can’t believe Jim Brown actually said). But Trump will also honor these athletes and give them awards etc because he wants to honor the people who honor him in order to entice more people to do the same with the threat of being subjected to his wrath if you choose another direction.
It’s like he thinks he’s Daenerys Targaryen
when he ordered athletes to either bend at the knee or he’ll unleash his fire breathing dragons (Fox News) to torch them right where they stand evidenced by him publicly calling all athletes who didn’t stand for the National Anthem (SOB’s) and calling for them to not only be fired but extracted from the country as a whole.
This alliance makes this Tiger Woods victory a little bitter sweet for me personally because I have seen this before. It’s like de ja vu all over again. I remember how OJ wanted nothing to do with the Black Community even to the point of telling Dr Harry Reid when he approached OJ to lend his support to The Olympic Project For Human Rights before the 68 Olympics and combine his voice with all of the other Black Athletes at the time John. Carlos, Tommie Smith, Kareem Albdul Jabbar to name a few, as they were planning on utilizing their platform to take a stand on the horrific ways in which Black People were being treated in America, his response was, “I’m not Black, I’m OJ” which I was reminded of when Tiger proclaimed, “I’m not Black, I’m Cablasian”
Now, make no mistake, Trump isn’t the first President to use athletes as props. It has been happening for decades. But this hasn’t really been seen with a sitting President whose politics are directly against the Black Community to this level since Nixon was endorsed by Jim Brown
I would actually say that Jim Brown endorsing Nixon was worse. Not to give a history lesson but people forget that it was Nixon who empowered J Edgar Hoover who instituted Cointelpro the organization that created a list that included just about every Black Civil Rights Activist at the time including but not limited to, Malcolm X, Dr Martin Luther King, Huey P Newton, H Rap Brown, James Baldwin, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Fred Hampton, Mumia Abul Jamal, Assata Shakur, Ralph Abernathy, Bunchy Carter, and many more. They were targeting them and listed them as public enemies with the Black Panthers listed as Public Enemy Number 1. So for Jim Brown to endorse this person was treasonous to the Black Commubity on a whole nother level but I digress.
The question always comes up why do we have to put all of that on the shoulders of Tiger Woods ? Why can’t he just play a game he loves and enjoy his life. Nobody asks Phil Nickelson and other white athletes to put their necks on the line and risk it all by using their platforms by speaking out on injustice in order to make the world a better place. Is that unfair to Tiger ? Why do we not defend his right to not be political ?
I was able to discuss this topic at length on my weekly show The Collision “Where Sports And Politics Collide” with my co host Dave Zirin and our guest Coach Kevin McNutt
On the show I explained how In my book We Matter “Athletes And Activism” I had the honor of interviewing Dr Harry Edwards and we were on the topic of OJ, because he was the one who OJ said the infamous “I’m not Black I’m OJ” statement to. And OJ was making the same case to him that people are currently asking of Tiger which is why do we have to put all of this on their shoulders ? Why can’t he (OJ) just play ball and live his life and run in his hertz commercials through the airports and enjoy his riches and rewards without doing anything that could and most likely would jeopardize his earning potential. Dr Edwards answer was profound as he told me,
“Nobody asks Larry Bird to stand up for all poor white people in French Lick Indiana. So why should I be obligated to move away from everything I have worked for and be asked to make this tremendous sacrifice and stand up for all Black people in America. That’s a legitimate question. Now, what’s equally legitimate is, if you decide not to do that, there’s a price to be paid for it and Black People have every right to collect that cost.”
I asked Dr Edwards to expound on that and he continued in saying .....
“It goes back to an old saying, what does a man gain who wins the world but loses his soul ? Black folks know that, they feel that. And even though they cheered when OJ beat the rap on those two murders, they weren’t cheering for OJ”
I agree 100% Black people were cheering because the system in which Mainstream America swears by and prides itself on didn’t work for them, and they were outraged about it. To draw a correlation, this is why I found myself in the dichotomy of cheering versus not cheering for Tiger. On one hand you have all of the people from Mainstream America who were against him, reveling in his off the field struggles and catastrophes, mocking him, the image of Tiger Woods walking passed the white man with a picture of his mugshot on his t shirt at the Masters, but then on the other hand, I know that a John Snow and Arya Stark type embrace between him and Donald Trump is just around the corner when he happily accepts his Presidential medal of freedom award which sends a definite and clear message to exactly what side he has chosen. And that is the reason I had trouble fully embracing the jubilation of Tiger’s victory.