Friday, August 16, 2002

Christine Brennan of USA Today thinks it's time sportswriters stopped writing about what Tiger Woods does on a golf course, and get to the heart of the matter: His views on political issues.

I'm with Brennan in thinking it would be great if Tiger were highly engaged on social issues. He could probably do a lot of good. Then again, I think simply by playing his sport with great dignity he's already done a lot of good as far as breaking down barriers in golf. Golf participation by minorities and women is way up in the last five years or so, and Tiger clearly has much to do with that. Jackie Robinson changed the world not by getting up on a soapbox, but by playing ball with incredible skill and intensity--the same way Tiger plays golf.

It's also worth pointing out that Tiger is barely in his mid-20s and he's entirely focused on his craft (or art, or sport, or whatever golf is). Maybe he hasn't figured out what he thinks about these other issues. Maybe he knows that when you're young you tend to say stupid things (I'm sure glad I wasn't quoted on political issues when I was in my mid-20s). Our culture is so demanding that everyone have an opinion--or "take" in the Jim Rome vernacular--on everything. Doesn't matter if they've studied the subject or even paused to think deeply about it. I kind of respect somebody who doesn't fall into that trap. Let's give the young man some time. Lastly--and I say this as a PR guy and a former reporter, and someone who will doubtless commit journalism again some day--I think it's just this sort of vaguely pious holier-than-thou hectoring that hurts journalists' standing with the public. I don't doubt that many of the questioners are asking them out of sincere journalistic curiosity and/or a sense of journalistic obligation. Fair enough. Ask the questions. And if Tiger has something to say, great. If he doesn't, back off.

BTW, Romenesko links to a nice Star Tribune column on the topic, wherein Dan Barreiro takes on Tiger's disingenuous lecturers.

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