Armed with the supposition that this brown-skinned golfer has irreversibly harmed an attractive, blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman, much of the sports media have turned Elin Nordegren into Natalee Holloway and reached for ratings and relevancy by traveling the route paved by Nancy Grace.
There is, believe it or not, another direction to explore. There is another reality we can reluctantly accept. If we choose, we, the media, can do our job and put Tiger’s transgressions in their proper context and explain to the public what happened to the perceived traditional ideals of the sports world.
We’re outraged and stunned that Tiger has had a dozen alleged affairs. The typical rock or movie star is laughing and/or questioning Tiger’s sexuality if the golfer limited himself to a number below 50 since marriage and 500 in his post-puberty lifetime.
The notion that golf, with its history of unapologetic racism and sexism, is somehow filled with men of impeccable integrity is a hysterical lie propagandized by hypocritical white men willing to commit the same crime they charge Tiger and his sponsors pulled off: the upholding of a patently false image.
As far as I know, Tiger grew up on golf courses in suburban Orange County, raised by an African-American, Chinese and Native American father and Thai, Chinese and Dutch mother. That is not the recipe for falling in love with sistas regardless of Tiger’s brown skin and full lips.
By profession and diction, the dude would be considered a nerd by most brothers and sisters. Take away his billion dollars and many of the sisters whining that Tiger prefers blondes would continue their search for a tatted-up, corn-rowed, slang-talking real brother.
Tiger’s choice in women isn’t a statement about how he feels about us (black folks). It’s a statement about where and how he grew up.
The reaction to Tiger’s preference exposes America’s deep-seated racial hang-ups. Black and white people are equally troubled by Tiger’s parade of Caucasian conquests. This unrest is fueling much of the media manipulation of and wallowing in this story.
“If Elin was black, this would be a Left Eye-Andre Rison situation and everyone would move on,” John Salley cracked.
When I talked with sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards, he addressed the racial dynamic more seriously.
“If Elin were black, this would be on the scale of Mike Tyson and Robin Givens,” Dr. Edwards explained. “It would’ve lasted a while and then it would just go away.”
That may sound preposterous to some, but it’s not. The media and the public overreact to whatever crimes/unfairness befall an attractive white woman (Natalee Holloway). Jordan, Ali and Magic all managed to play on their black wives without receiving much criticism. Shaquille O’Neal just finished off the remaining credible pieces of his marriage to a black woman by allegedly having an ongoing affair with Gilbert Arenas’ fiancee. No one cares. But this brown-skinned golfer is facing ruin because he cheated on his white wife.
“You’re getting reverberations of O.J.,” Dr. Edwards said. “White America, corporate America feels betrayed. Tiger was accepted and given all the perks and benefits and now they feel betrayed, the same betrayal they felt with O.J. There are some (black) celebrities that get to dip their biscuit in the gravy of corporate America and then there are some that are given their own bowl of gravy. Tiger had rare access. His sponsors choreographed a superhuman image to promote a sport and sell product. They gave him everything except the latitude to exercise his humanity. There are no super humans down here. There’s only us, and sometimes we blow it.”