The Tiger Woods Circus Isn't About Racism

Alan ThomsonCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2009

SUTTON COLDFIELD - SEPTEMBER 26:  Golfer Tiger Woods poses with girlfriend Elin Nordegren during the opening Ceremony for the 34th Ryder Cup on September 26, 2002 in Sutton Coldfield, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images writer Jason Whitlock is not one to hold back on what he thinks.

Quoth the Whitlock: “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… this brown-skinned golfer is facing ruin because he cheated on his white wife . The media and the public overreact to whatever crimes/unfairness befall an attractive white woman (Natalee Holloway).

No, I’m not trying to incite a Whitlockgate. But the circus created by Tiger Woods’ off-the-course scorecard is not about the harm done to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman by a brown-skinned man.

It is about the revelation that Bruce Wayne has been sitting in a regular Thursday night poker game with the Joker, is banging Commissioner Gordon’s wife and pinching money from the Gotham tax fund.

White people, media included, were more than just taken with Tiger Woods. We worshipped at the shrine of his mystique.

White people understand white people. And we’ve grown jaded with ourselves.

We’re flawed. We malfunction in various ways. We can’t dance. And we know this. As a result, we’ve grown to have difficulty believing in those of us who try to peddle their trustworthiness to the rest.  

When a young, multi-racial golf prodigy five-ironed his way into our lives with the dominating confidence of Michael Jordan and the vocal intonation of a white school teacher—a combination of appearance, supreme ability, psychological prowess and a comforting familiarity that we had never experienced—we were spellbound.

We relate to him because he plays a white man’s sport and walks, talks and dresses like us while doing it. It’s about culture, not skin. His persona says Buick, not Snoop de Ville.

We believed, or maybe just wanted to, that this creature, the likes of which we had never known, was truly different.

We assumed, or maybe just wanted to, that the uncompromising integrity with which he played his sport somehow translated to his personal life. So we bought what he was selling—literally and figuratively.

And so Woods became the most recognized, trusted and wealthy endorsement figure in history. We had made him into a billion-dollar enterprise in spiked shoes.  

And then it all came crashing down.

And some, including Mr. Whitlock, are saying that the ensuing fallout is an attempt by the media to ruin Woods for cheating on his wife.

Britney Spears can’t get from the curb to the car without pictures of her crotch from fourteen angles hitting the web before she closes the car door.

And not a soul in the media was wise to Woods getting so busy that most men would have been walking around with their junk in a sling? With reportedly, at latest tally, at least nine different women? One of them for 31 months? With much of this occurring while he was on the Tiger-chasing, media-drenched PGA tour?

And now they’ve suddenly decided to ruin him?

I can’t speak on what members of the media may or may not have known, but doesn’t this seem strange to anyone else?

Even assuming the media was not hip to what—or who—had been going down, the white public’s reaction isn’t about avenging the hurt done to a white woman by a brown-skinned man.

If white people had issues with Woods having married a white woman, we would never have continued to idolize him. He would have become as beloved as Jack Johnson—not Jack Kennedy.

The huge majority of the media’s Tigergate coverage has been about what Tiger did, what he may currently be doing and what he is likely to do next—not about how Elin is feeling.

Our interest in the ongoing drama is one of simple human curiosity—an impassioned continuation of our massive intrigue. The only thing more compelling than a mighty superhero is a mightily flawed superhero.

Some folks are going to disagree with my take on things. So be it.

But, at a minimum, it’s hard not to concede that there is no precedent on which to base a judgment, for the reaction of white people to a multi-racial, extremely charismatic, mega-celebrity, endorsement billionaire, golf phenom cheating on a white woman in the age of Obama.

Racism and bigotry exist, and in comparable proportions, my dearest Whitlock. I just don’t believe that either of them are what support the big top of the Tiger Woods circus, the current greatest show on earth.