More Tiger Talk

Yeah, I know another column about golf on what's supposed to be a football blog, but we have another week to go before training camps start and, fresh off my trip to the birthplace of the sport I feel like talking golf.

Michael Wilbon has a good follow-up column to the piece by John Feinstein yesterday that criticized Tiger Woods for not being the gentleman that Jack Nickluas has been. I still believe that Tiger should not be excused from using the language he does, or that his occasional childish behavior should be ignored, but Wilbon's piece does provide a good counter-argument to the work by Feinstein yesterday.

Feinstein criticizes Woods for not trying to curb his language, which can get pretty foul when he misses a putt or hits a bad shot, just like most of us. And because Feinstein is a golf historian, I know he knows that Nicklaus, whom he justifiably praises to the high heavens, could have cursed up a storm if he wanted in 1962 or thereabouts without it reaching the television because he wasn't followed everywhere with sound men holding frighteningly high-tech boom microphones so close they can pick up the sound of his stomach churning.

Wilbon makes a solid point, Nicklaus did not have to deal with the same media which Tiger now faces from the moment he steps out of his house. And I think its completely possible that Tiger will mellow with age, and become less prone to emotional outbursts.

But on the other hand, many non-traditional golf fans love Tiger for his emotional outbursts, the dramatic fist pumps after he sinks a long birdie putt. Tiger has already established an identity for himself, albeit an identity defined by Nike and American Express.

Wilbon also raises the race issue in the article, bringing up a story I was not aware of that has undoubtedly shaped Tiger.

On his first day of kindergarten at a school where he was the only child of color, Tiger was confronted by a group of sixth-graders who tied him to a tree and spray painted "Nigger" on him and threw rocks at him.

Why did Wilbon bring this up? My guess would be to point out that Tiger is a different athlete than Nicklaus, that besides playing in a different era, Tiger has far different life experiences from Nicklaus.

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