Seen & Heard – Thursday, May 23, 2013

by Rob G

Being a follower of TSM before having the privilege of posting, I know the game of golf wasn’t often part of the site. And here I am two nights in a row posting Seen and Heard, golf edition. Mea culpa – I took up the game when I was 13, and the love affair with the game still afflicts me almost 40 years later. Sometimes love, sometimes hate, but that’s the game. Above all, golf keeps you humble. Anyway, I promise my posts aren’t going to be “all golf, all the time”!

I’m sure many of you heard the controversy from yesterday involving the same two players from a different controversy a few weeks ago at the Player’s Championship. Sergio Garcia put an appendage in his mouth yet again, harking back to a similar comment made 16 years ago by Fuzzy Zoeller.

In that instance, Zoeller made a racist comment in regards to the Champions Dinner that would be served the following year based on a menu suggested by the previous year’s champion (which would be Woods). Zoeller, commenting on Wood’s play in his 1997 victory, and the potential Champions Dinner menu the following year said, “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?” As he walked away after, he smiled and added, “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve”.

Moving ahead to 2013, Garcia made an insensitive remark at a black tie gala in Wentworth, England, where he is playing this week at the BMW PGA Championship. At the event, Garcia was asked in jest whether he would invite Woods for dinner at the U.S. Open next month. Garcia replied, “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken”. Garcia apologized Wednesday for his remarks.

From a Toronto media perspective, what I found interesting was Sportsnet 590 The FAN afternoon drive host Bob McCown’s thoughts regarding Garcia’s insensitive remarks. He wondered why comments similar to what Zoeller made 16 years earlier still carried the same sensitivity today. He commented that the Golf Channel was all over the story, which is somewhat true. However, it’s important to note that their morning programming is live for 2 hours (from 7-9am), and then it is repeated at 9am. Co-host John Shannon commented that Woods took advantage of the opportunity to portray himself as a victim. Unlike many of you that follow TSM, I have time for Shannon, but he truly showed his lack of perspective when sharing his opinion on this situation. Of course, as someone wise once told me, you’re allowed to share your opinion, however wrong it may be!

As for McCown demonstrating surprise that there is still the same level of sensitivity today to insensitive comments uttered in a similar fashion almost 20 years ago, the truth is in the story and the reaction. It was wrong then; it is wrong now. While it may be fair to be of the belief that we as a society have progressed to the point that we shouldn’t be as “put out” by these types of comments, the truth of the matter is that not only do these insensitive comments still carry the same weight as 20 years ago, in the social media world we live in today, these type of comments are under the microscope even more than before.

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    I’m confused by the idea that if society has become more progressive, that we should be less put off by such comments. If society becomes less tolerant of racism, we should have more time for racist comments? If anything, you would think that such a society would be more surprised by such comments rather than less. (And as you said social media wasn’t around 16 years ago, and that makes a big difference too, for everything, whether it’s racism or Daniel Alfredsson suggesting the Senators might not be able to pull out a series comeback win.)

    I’m amused that Shannon thinks Tiger Woods’ shouldn’t portray himself as an insulted party since Shannon’s constantly portraying all of his hockey “friends” as offended/beset upon parties whenever anybody on PTS even slightly criticizes them. xD