FanDuel - WFBC

July 06, 2009

Should Tiger Woods Be Doing More for Charity?: After Jim Brown publicly called him out for not doing more to achieve social change -- unlike himself, Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson and Bill Russell at the height of their fame -- Tiger Woods gave his $1.1 million winnings from this weekend's AT&T National to his charity the Tiger Woods Foundation. "I want to do it right and not just do it, "Woods said last week of his charitable efforts, focused thus far on helping disadvantaged kids with academics and golf. "That takes time. You just don't jump into something."

posted by rcade to golf at 09:35 AM - 68 comments

"It's easy to say I'll apologize to Tiger and go on and do what I'm going to do," Brown told me. "Charity is one thing. Change is another."

Jim Brown needs to remember that Tiger Woods is a golfer, not a social activist. There's no correlation between the two other than having a lot of money.

He donates some money, runs an education center, does the things that people who have some money to give should do. Good on him for it. When it comes to having an opinion on social change, he's not qualified, at least as far as I've seen.

I'm not sure Tiger has ever seen an inner city; he's hung out at country clubs his whole life. How, exactly, does Brown expect him to be the spokesmen for so many people who he can't identify with?

Jim Brown needs to take a knee on this one.

posted by dfleming at 09:56 AM on July 06

He isn't obligated to do anything he doesn't want to do with his money.

posted by sgtcookzane at 09:58 AM on July 06

Woods, like the other iconic black athletes before him, takes on more social significance in his achievements by virtue of his race. When he won the Masters for the first time, it was a great moment for this country.

I think Brown's right to call Woods and Michael Jordan out for so rarely venturing into anything that might be controversial, which seems like a strategy ensured to protect their marketability.

He doesn't have to be a strident agitator, but Woods ought to realize that his window of opportunity to change the world is open. It won't be that way forever.

posted by rcade at 10:08 AM on July 06

Yeah, I agree with rcade and Jim Brown. Woods and Michael Jordan do not impress me. Woods won't even admit he is black. What is the point of having a world stage if you do not use it to better the world? It can't be about amassing as large a fortune as possible (despite what Lebron James thinks).

I also get annoyed at celebrity philanthropy. Giving money to your foundation which you control is not giving money away. It is a tax shelter. In 2007, the Tiger Woods Foundation gave away $5 million (pdf). I'm not impressed. If this link doesn't work, you will have to go to Guidestar yourself.

posted by bperk at 10:23 AM on July 06

"I want to do it right and not just do it."

Any comment from Nike?

posted by JJ at 10:40 AM on July 06

What is the point of having a world stage if you do not use it to better the world? It can't be about amassing as large a fortune as possible (despite what Lebron James thinks).

Except, to them, it is. To badly quote Charles Barkley, he didn't ask to be a role model. There is no mystery that Michael Jordan avoided controversial topics to maximize his endorsement, and it appears Tiger Woods is going the same route. To them, amassing a large fortune is part of the game.

Giving money to your foundation which you control is not giving money away. It is a tax shelter.

I know next to nothing about taxes. I do my yearly 1040EZ and call it quits. Can you explain why he's not really giving away money?

posted by jmd82 at 10:40 AM on July 06

Can you explain why he's not really giving away money?

Because it is still sitting in a Foundation, which he controls. He can give the money to his cousin who "teaches" golf. He can give it only to schools that will call themselves the Tiger Woods School. He can use the money to throw elaborate parties that are supposed to raise more money for the Foundation (whether they do or not). The money is still available to enrich him.

posted by bperk at 10:55 AM on July 06

That's a somewhat disingenuous way to look at it, bperk. Would it make him a better person if he simply threw wads of cash around the place without any thought? Surely not.

posted by JJ at 11:08 AM on July 06

To badly quote Charles Barkley, he didn't ask to be a role model.

We are all role models, for good or bad. The more people who pay attention to us, the more of a model we are. Tiger Woods is the most famous athlete in the entire world -- the Muhammad Ali of his time.

Tiger Woods markets himself aggressively. If he's willing to be a role model to sell Buicks, he should answer the call to be more of a role model for altruistic purposes as well.

Why do we accept less? Is Tiger marketed all over the world by Nike and all those other companies just because he's an enormously good golfer? Or is something else going with him that's more important?

posted by rcade at 11:11 AM on July 06

That's a somewhat disingenuous way to look at it, bperk. Would it make him a better person if he simply threw wads of cash around the place without any thought? Surely not.

I don't have a problem with people having their own Foundation. Some are great (see the Gates Foundation). I have a problem with personal foundations that have plenty of money coming in, but small amounts actually being disbursed for charitable purposes (see the Oprah Winfrey Foundation for an egregious example). Those I consider a tax shelter. Tiger Woods in 2007 gave away $5 million for charitable purposes (the amount disbursed) regardless of how much he "donated" to his Foundation.

posted by bperk at 11:36 AM on July 06

How much did he donate? If it was 5 million, then what's the problem?

posted by JJ at 11:39 AM on July 06

[completely off topic, but if you're a golf fan and amused by English idiots making even bigger fools of themselves on a minute by minute basis, you might want to check out Ian Poulter's twittering:

http://twitter.com/Ianjamespoulter

Just in case your eyes start bleeding before you get to it, allow me to pass on his heartiest wishes for a happy "independants day"]

posted by JJ at 11:57 AM on July 06

How much did he donate? If it was 5 million, then what's the problem?

He managed to give away $5 million to charities that help disadvantaged kids learn golf while he makes something like $100 million. Jim Brown doesn't think he does enough. I agree.

posted by bperk at 12:01 PM on July 06

Is Tiger marketed all over the world by Nike and all those other companies just because he's an enormously good golfer?

Uh, yes. And he's not a jerk. And he's uber-famous because he's the best golfer. And to be frank, stays out of politics and is not divisive. Same thing with MJ and Federer. Altruistically, it may not be the best thing, but monetarily speaking from an athletes position, it is.

posted by jmd82 at 12:10 PM on July 06

Success in any realm, be it sports, the business world, or whatever else, does not come with any obligation to "change the world". It doesn't matter what your race or gender is, nor whether you are a top golfer or the CEO of an oil company. Tiger is free to do as he pleases.

Besides, Tiger has done more to "change the world" just by being who he is than any athlete since Jackie Robinson. Sure, Jordan was an iconic figure in basketball, but he didn't change any racial perceptions about the game of basketball like Tiger has with golf.

The best part (at least to me) is that Tiger *isn't* constantly harping on the fact that he is a racial minority. He's just a damn good golfer. That's how racial harmony comes about, by doing what you do and making people forget about your skin color.

*steps off soapbox*

posted by TheQatarian at 12:22 PM on July 06

Jmd82: If Tiger Woods was white -- well, if he was more Caucasian and less "bl" and "in" -- he wouldn't be one tenth as marketable around the world today, no matter how good he plays. How many people with no interest at all in golf otherwise follow Tiger? By comparison, how many of the same people could pick Phil Mickelson out of a lineup?

posted by rcade at 12:31 PM on July 06

Woods won't even admit he is black

Com'on now, that's like saying that you don't want to admit that you're a human being although it's quite obvious, isn't it?

I can understand what Mr. Brown is saying but it's a different era than the one Mr. Brown experienced. Mr. Brown didn't have millions of dollars worth of endorsements that these athletes have now a'days but black athletes in that time were always in danger of having to deal with racial undertones and death threats coming their way. Of course MJ and Tiger could do more but what is enough? There is a black president in 2009, will Mr. Brown say that Obama isn't doing enough? By just getting elected, President Obama did a hell of a lot just like with Tiger being the best golfer in a "white" sport, he's doing what he can do.

posted by BornIcon at 12:33 PM on July 06

By comparison, how many of the same people could pick Phil Mickelson out of a lineup?

Come on, those man-boobs are pretty unmistakable. FIGJAM!!!

posted by holden at 12:42 PM on July 06

Com'on now, that's like saying that you don't want to admit that you're a human being although it's quite obvious, isn't it?

Not really. Woods' reticence about calling himself black is well-documented. As a youth he called himself Cablinasian because of his mixed "[Ca]ucasian, [Bl]ack, American-[In]dian, and [Asian]" heritage.

Racial self-identification is different than the race ascribed to you by others. President Obama wrote about dealing with some of the same issues in his own head.

posted by rcade at 12:45 PM on July 06

So basically what you're trying to say is that Tiger should not say that he's of mixed race, just that he's black? Whatever Tiger wants to call himself, whether it's black, asian or Cablinasian, who really gives a damn? The man is going to go down as the greatest golfer of all time and I can proudly say that I saw him play, regarless if he were black, white or asian.

posted by BornIcon at 12:51 PM on July 06

Tiger Woods can say whatever he wants to say about his race. I'm just documenting the unease with which he's approached the subject of whether he's black, which undoubtedly is part of why Jim Brown is taking him on.

posted by rcade at 01:02 PM on July 06

Whatever Tiger wants to call himself, whether it's black, asian or Cablinasian, who really gives a damn?

Black people care. He is a positive role model, but doesn't want to be identified as black. Tiger is not alone in being a mix of races and ethnicities; the same is true of every other black person (non-immigrant) here. Why the reluctance to say he is black?

The price that athletes pay for their endorsements if that they can't take a stand on anything that matters. Jim Brown is from a different era. If it weren't for people like Brown and Ali taking a stand, we may never have seen this era. And for their sacrifices, we get to see Woods, Jordan, James, who care about the dollar above all else.

That's how racial harmony comes about, by doing what you do and making people forget about your skin color.

If only the civil rights leaders had known this was the key!

posted by bperk at 01:08 PM on July 06

"Racial self-identification is different than the race ascribed to you by others."

Right, and that "self-identification" is chosen by those who are looking for solidarity in their identities, both personally and in the larger social sense of where they "fit."

Tiger doesn't feel the need to be in solidarity with just one group, and i see no ethical reason as to why he should have to. His sidentity could come from being in the elite group of people called "golfers" if he so chose.

This stuff usually comes off as guilt-tripping to me. Bottom line, it is his identity, his self-understanding, and he can do whatever he wants. Just b/c he doesn't go in one particular way doesn't mean he is acting improperly. How many of us are in a real position to judge this? Do many on this board have a "[Ca]ucasian, [Bl]ack, American-[In]dian, and [Asian]" heritage? Doubtful. Even if we did, the point is that navigating the complexities of self-understanding is something we each must do, and you can't just look at a prominent indicator of racial self-identification (eg skin color) and reduce self-understanding to that.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:13 PM on July 06

How many here donate their spare time and spare money and other spare resources to help the needy? If having money comes with the obligation to instigate social change, doesn't having free time come with the same?

How many here who condemn Tiger for "only" giving $5M away can take 5 minutes and hand out meals or give needy mothers a ride or volunteer at Goodwill etc?

If Tiger doesn't maximise the endorsements he gets, then maybe he only makes $10 or $20 million a year and wouldn't give away even $5 million.

Won't we be better off trying to figure out how to get rid of the athletes who are bad role models?

posted by Ricardo at 01:23 PM on July 06

Tiger does the following for charity:

The Tiger Woods Foundation: The Tiger Woods Foundation was established in 1996 by Woods and his father Earl. It focuses on projects for children.

Woods Learning Center. The Tiger Woods Foundation teamed up with the PGA Tour to create a new PGA tour event that takes place in the nation's capital (Washington, D.C.). It began in July, 2007. It honors our nation's military.

In The City Golf Clinics and Festivals: Since 1997, the Tiger Woods Foundation has conducted junior golf clinics across the country. The Foundation began the "In the City" golf clinic program in 2003. The first three clinics were held in Indio, California, Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and were targeted to all youth, ages 7-17, and their families.

Tiger Woods Learning Center: This is a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) educational facility in Anaheim, California which opened in February 2006. It is used by several thousand students each year in grades 4 to 12. The center features seven classrooms, extensive multi-media facilities and an outdoor golf teaching area.

Tiger Jam: An annual fundraising concert which has raised over $10 million for the Tiger Woods Foundation. Past performers at Tiger Jam include Sting, Bon Jovi and Stevie Wonder.

Chevron World Challenge: An annual off-season charity golf tournament. The event carries generous prize money, and in 2007 Woods donated his $1.35 million first-place check to his Learning Center.

Tiger Woods Foundation National Junior Golf Team:

This is quite a large contribution to society that is of very high quality and has high impact on the lives touched.

Some individuals want Tiger be a social activist. Maybe after he retires from golf he will. Maybe not. But I do not think anyone ought to feel they are in a position to "dictate" how others should spend their lives.

posted by Fly_Piscator at 01:45 PM on July 06

How about Peter Singer's take on how disposable wealth should be used?*

The Sparknotes version: if you have disposable wealth, and are aware that it could be used to save lives (e.g. mosquito nets, food for the hungry), and choose instead to spend it on luxuries (e.g. multiple opulent houses, extravagent cars), then you have decided that those possessions are more important than human life. Singer says you need to own up to the fact that you think upgrading your tv set is more important than the good that money could do for children in dire poverty.

Regardless of whether you buy Singer's argument, doesn't it seem incredible that Tiger could donate $90m and still have $10m left to play with? In what way would his life be diminished if he did that?

Singer's great fun to debate with college students--I used to assign the essay just to watch the fireworks the next week. But I take his point seriously. And I take Ricardo's point just a seriously, because it reminds me that my time and hands could be contributing much more than they do, right here in my own community.

* For the the purposes of this discussion, I consider Singer's other, even more controversial ethical standpoints to be irrelevant.

posted by Uncle Toby at 02:51 PM on July 06

Uncle Toby, your post reminded me of an article I read in which the writer was making the argument that the wealthy spending on luxury items,even those that are extremely grandiose, are just as good for humanity as any charitible contribution. His point was that someone buying the new car/opulent house/tv/watch/etc created jobs for a multitude of people. The jobs create stability, whereas charity often creates an environment of dependence.

So maybe we should thank Tiger for buying all those homes he owns.
(although it has been on the internet for years, he doesn't really own this one)this one

posted by dviking at 03:34 PM on July 06

If everyone worried about themselves, how you live YOUR life, not focusing on people that are living THEIR life's and not hurting you or others. This world would be a better and more charitable place. Stay out of other peoples business! Mr. Woods, do what ever you want. It's a free country.

posted by Stuama at 03:54 PM on July 06

Tiger Woods can say whatever he wants to say about his race. I'm just documenting the unease with which he's approached the subject of whether he's black, which undoubtedly is part of why Jim Brown is taking him on.

Some of the unease probably comes from the fact that once he identifies himself as black, he's speaking for all blacks everywhere (as Jim Brown would have him do). I don't know if you've ever actually spoken for even 10 other people, but it's a harrowing and largely thankless job.

If Tiger Woods was white -- well, if he was more Caucasian and less "bl" and "in" -- he wouldn't be one tenth as marketable around the world today, no matter how good he plays.

So you're saying that Woods' marketability is 1/10th his achievements and 9/10 his race? I know that the U.S puts a huge emphasis on him being a black golfer, but do you really think the world thinks this way too?

It seems to me that Tiger Woods was the right guy (charming, mysterious, good-looking) at the right time (the digital age) with the right amount of frightful skill and dominance. We haven't seen a white guy, in our worldwide digital environment, with that kind of talent.

The best I can do is say that David Beckham's never been the best footballer in the world but most of the world would know who he is and he makes a shitload of money as a white, good-looking, charming athlete.

posted by dfleming at 04:07 PM on July 06

Singer says you need to own up to the fact that you think upgrading your tv set is more important than the good that money could do for children in dire poverty.

I love this argument. I have a similar test for myself, but I allow myself some balance for actually enjoying this life. I do more of a religious test. If I have to explain myself to my maker, will I have a good argument why I blew this money instead of helping those in need? I feel comfortable explain enjoying my life with family and friends, but conspicuous consumption is much harder to explain.

posted by bperk at 04:29 PM on July 06

The last bit of the first link says it all... If Brown calls Woods, maybe something tremendous can happen. Absent that contact, harping on Tiger in the press does a disservice to them both.

posted by 86 at 04:34 PM on July 06

Hey, so, don't a lot of us get upset about "know nothing celebrities sticking their ignorant noses in politics?" I mean, Tiger has a soapbox, but were he to use it to promote something that we don't especially agree with, wouldn't he just be another celebrity who "should keep his mouth shut?"

I'm just saying - he's damned if he does (with some people) and in this case damned if he doesn't. And even then, he is doing some pretty good stuff with his money - just not as much as Jim Brown would like him to, or the kinds of things Jim Brown would like.

Its worth noting that Woods could take up Jim Brown's challenge to support causes that Woods believes in and that those causes could be things that would appall Brown.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:35 PM on July 06

I don't think this is as cut-and-dried as some Anubis-derived math where x% of your income donated to charity = good person. bperk, I'm not sure you get how a foundation works: the Gates Foundation you cite as a model is sitting on billions of dollars it has yet to give away. If it gave it all away today, besides wasting a lot of it, there would be no money to give away tomorrow.

I appreciate Jim Brown's take, but I think it was more on-point when it came to Jordan. Tiger and Jordan both have a bit of Teflon-coating, an insulation from The Real World, but it seems less important in Tiger's case. Maybe it's because he's of mixed racial heritage playing a sport for rich people in a world that's 20 years on from Jordan's era, but I think Jim Brown's being unfair here.

Then again, maybe I just respected what Brown had to say before I knew he punched women in the face. Do black athletes have a social responsibility white athletes do not? Maybe so. But it seems unfair to say a specific individual has a responsibility. The NBA paid out a zillion dollars in salaries this year, much of it to black athletes. Same for the NFL. Why single out Tiger Woods? Because he made even more? Because he's the best at his sport? Ted Williams was "the greatest hitter who ever lived". He was a shitty hitting coach. Success in one arena doesn't beget success in another (see: Jordan, Michael). Why can't it be enough to fund a foundation that works for social improvement? And who's to say when enough is enough?

There a lot of ass-aching that goes on in threads here that seems to just mask jealousy. I realize that's a shit comment to make and one that always comes up, but there's never a thread about money or Real Life where it doesn't turn out some athlete's a complete moral failure*. I just want to take this opportunity to say how overwhelmed I am to be allowed to keep company with the saints that populate these halls. If only you all had a few million dollars, I'm sure the world would be appreciably better.

* Except for Steve McNair who was a wonderful guy victimized by a crazed woman.

posted by yerfatma at 04:35 PM on July 06

The interesting thing about Woods is that he is so utterly boring. Seriously, has he ever said or done anything of interest, other than play extraordinary golf? He strikes me as a bland, pleasant, very focused, but boring kind of guy.

I suspect some of Brown's comments derive from Woods' unparalleled access to the world of country clubs and the ultra rich, and, not incidentally, to the central enclaves of white power. Being "clean and articulate", so to speak. He has a bully pulpit which he chooses not to use, apparently for any cause. I mean, it could be prostate cancer or hookworm or ingrown toenails. He gives no indication of having any connection to the real world. In the long term, I suppose we are judged on a lifetime, and not on this earth, and if he is holding back now in order to build an even huger platform from which to speak or to do some good in the world, then wonderful. But so far, yeah, not much obvious sign of giving

posted by rumple at 04:51 PM on July 06

And the idea of a golf tournament to honour the military? Heckuva plan. Now watch this drive.

posted by rumple at 04:51 PM on July 06

dviking, I think that riposte has some merit, but it overlooks the urgency of realities like hunger. Children starve in the meantime. And how many stable jobs are created in third-world countries by conspicuous consumption?

C.S. Lewis addressed this question: Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.

In any event, the choice isn't simply between giving people handouts and buying expensive toys. Plenty of charities do infrastructure stuff.

posted by Uncle Toby at 05:13 PM on July 06

I think Jim certainly has a point. Tiger has an opportunity that few others do - he's the most recognizable athlete going these days. To suggest he has a responsibility to use it is one thing - but denying that the opportunity exists is wrong.

For good or bad, both Jordan and Woods have not embraced social change as a mandate, nor controversy in virtually any form.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:26 PM on July 06

The interesting thing about Woods is that he is so utterly boring.

Relentlessly boring.

posted by rcade at 07:18 PM on July 06

I actually feel sorry for Tiger Woods. Lewis Hamilton too. I realise they're both black and people may wonder where I'm going here, but they're the best two examples I can think of regarding kids who it appears had very little in the way of a childhood due to being pushed so hard by their fathers.

Both are very rich from being pushed so hard, but have all the charisma of a piece of lettuce. They developed their skills at the expense of developing a personality for want of a better way of putting it.

As for whether Tiger should do more for charity, maybe, but it's his money, and if tomorrow he decided to blow it all on whores and gin, that's his choice and nobody should wag a finger at him IMO.

Or of course he can donate to the Drood Is Broke Fund.;)

posted by Drood at 10:50 PM on July 06

Uncle Toby, I tend to side with you more than the writer I quoted. Especially given that he was trying to justify people spending $900, 000.00 on watches. Not antique watches owned by someone famous, just brand new watches that really don't look any nicer than the $300 model I have. If you can afford a $900k watch you sure as hell can afford triple that amount to charity.

As to charities themselves, some are really good, some are really bad. There's a site that ranks charities, they give Tiger 4 stars. So, I guess he's running it on the up and up. I would have been very disappointed if the rating had been lower.

I agree with the earlier statement that Tiger's in a no win situation. If he isn't outspoken he's wasting his opportunity for change, and if he speaks everyone that disagrees with his statements will label him a jerk. I say to stay the course, but maybe fork over another couple mil.

posted by dviking at 10:54 PM on July 06

It's nice to give away your money.

We seem to think that the opposite must therefor be true: it's not nice to not give away your money.

Screw that. Once he pays huge taxes, he's done with his societal requirements - everything else is gravy.

Tasty, tasty gravy...

It's none of my goddam business what any of you do with your money. Similarly, it's none of your business what I do with mine. At what point on one's ladder to Fame does the substance of philanthropy become a point of public discussion? I don't recall reading anything on SpoFi, or anywhere else, about the philanthropical heroics of Gretzky, Orr, Nadal, Laver, Sampras, Ruth, Gehrig, Lamond, DiMaggio, LaJoie... etc. etc...

This is a sports news item, in my opinion, that is a result of way too many "reporters" trying to find something to write about.

posted by bobfoot at 01:38 AM on July 07

Would it make him a better person if he simply threw wads of cash around the place without any thought? Surely not.

I have a problem with personal foundations that have plenty of money coming in, but small amounts actually being disbursed for charitable purposes

That reminds me of something a wise man once told me. He said that before you give to any charity/non-profit organization that you should find out what percentage of your donation will go to the actual cause and how much goes to administrative costs. Supposedly, most of the charities that use telemarketing only receive about 20% of your donation (maybe even less).

posted by MrFrisby at 03:59 AM on July 07

Woods, like the other iconic black athletes before him, takes on more social significance in his achievements by virtue of his race.

Would that be the ca, the bl, the in, or the Asian race? Jim Brown champions mostly black, inner city causes and that is good, I believe that Jim does a lot of good, and perhaps if a lot of inner city fathers spent one iota of the time with their children that Earl Woods spent with Tiger growing up, then a lot of the problems Jim Brown preaches about would not be as prevalent as they are.

He is a positive role model, but doesn't want to be identified as black.

I'm just documenting the unease with which he's approached the subject of whether he's black,

Woods' reticence about calling himself black is well-documented.

Woods won't even admit he is black.

Cite some examples, please. Every time I've seen or heard Tiger address the question of his race (s), it has been with pride and humor.

The interesting thing about Woods is that he is so utterly boring.

Relentlessly boring.

A boring piece of fresh air, if you ask me. Class, graciousness, good humor are all evident at most of his press conferences between rounds and after tournaments. Few of todays athletes are as humble, and none as good at their sport as Tiger is at his. And, I might add, few are as generous with their time and money.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:58 AM on July 07

I don't think of Tiger Woods as humble. Soft-spoken, yes. Humble, not so much.

When another player publicly criticizes him, as Rory Sabbatini did by calling him "beatable" in 2007, Woods says some pretty barbed stuff like this: "I figure I've won 9 out of 12 and I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career."

posted by rcade at 10:21 AM on July 07

Jim Brown's problem with Tiger (and the others he mentioned), isn't about how much money he gives to charities, per se. It's about him not taking political/social risks as an African-American. I think this is really a generational issue, more than anything else.

Earl Woods certainly knew racial prejudice. His undergrad degree was in Sociology from Kansas State in the early 1950's. Rather than accept a professional baseball contract, he joined the Army. The Army has long been a couple of decades ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to racial equality. He was able to become a Green Beret. He worked as a professor and also worked a lot in Asia. It seems he worked to find places in life where he would not feel like an oppressed minority. My guess is Earl Woods was a "bootstrap" guy, a "personal responsibility" kind of guy, fairly conservative, politically, and he passed this to Tiger. I doubt Tiger was allowed to even harbor the thought that life was more difficult for him because of his mixed race. Tiger's charities run toward kids (of all races) and disabled folks, disabled vets in particular. It's possible that he feels somewhat more ambivalent (from his point of view) about able-bodied adults who shoot each other or abuse drugs. My guess is that he looks at his dad and sees these problems more as personal ones for which personal responsibility should be taken. Jim Brown, coming from the 50's and 60's, says Tiger isn't talking enough about The Problem. Tiger, coming from the 90's and 00's, Stanford grad, near-billionaire, and Barack Obama as his President, says what's the problem.

Is Tiger Woods a good role model? By all reports, he is devoted to his wife and children. He works tirelessly at his profession to try to be the best at what he does. He is polite and respectful of others and his elders in particular, and always pays homage to those who cut the path before him. He has studied hard and is a well-educated man. He gives freely to charities and to help those in need. He's never been caught up in any scandal or illegal activity, and I for one can't imagine that ever happening. I happen to think that's pretty good.

But Jim Brown says no, he's not speaking out enough about inner-city crime and poverty. Maybe not, but at least he's not PROMOTING it. He's not a fixture in night clubs frequented by gangsters, doesn't run around with loaded handguns in his sweat pants, doesn't run with people who put on dog fights, doesn't insist on getting "hoodalized" when he gets to your city, went to school before turning pro, doesn't know anyone who murdered anyone else, and doesn't celebrate the accomplishments of those who do. Good for him, and may my son be just like Tiger Woods.

posted by miked at 11:21 AM on July 07

When another player publicly criticizes him, as Rory Sabbatini did by calling him "beatable" in 2007, Woods says some pretty barbed stuff like this: "I figure I've won 9 out of 12 and I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career."

Yeah, how barbed is that? I mean, God, he should've just answered "Rory has a right to his opinion" and be done with it. HOW HARSH WAS HE!

Rory Sabbatini is a punk who made a dumb comment and got called out on it. Tiger wasn't lying about his track record, nor was he really boasting. He responded to someone who called him out.

Considering how much better than everyone else he is at his sport, he's pretty damn humble. If you look at the few people who dominate like he can (Jordan, Bryant, LeBron, Ovechkin, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Cristiano Ronaldo), he's on the very low end of the ego spectrum publicly. He may go home and flex in the mirror the rest of the time, but publicly, he does a very good job of respecting the game's greats and his opponents.

posted by dfleming at 12:42 PM on July 07

Pointing out that he won as much in one year as Sabbatini won his entire career is boasting. Whenever somebody calls out Woods in any fashion, he gets his back up.

Here, incidentally, are the comments by Sabbatini: "I've seen Tiger when he hits the ball well. And I've seen Tiger when there's not a facet of his game that you're not amazed. But I think Sunday, he struggled out there. He had to battle for that win. And I think that made me realize ... he's as beatable as ever. I've seen him when he figures it out. It's scary. I don't want to see that anymore. I like the new Tiger."

That's not a dumb comment at all. Woods is not Superman. There are times he struggles, and during those times he can be beaten.

posted by rcade at 01:30 PM on July 07

I'm going to pull a Bob Dole here and quote myself: "The sports media has a weird standard when it comes to Tiger Woods and other golfers. The other guys are maligned for lacking the competitive spirit to take him on, but when Rory Sabbatini makes a frank but mostly innocuous comment that Woods looks like he might be more beatable, it's played like a grievous insult -- with Woods feeding that perception. Which is it? How does a golfer show the stones to take on Tiger while demonstrating absolute fealty to the notion that he's not remotely beatable?"

posted by rcade at 01:34 PM on July 07

That's not a dumb comment at all. Woods is not Superman. There are times he struggles, and during those times he can be beaten.

And you don't think, after 15 odd years in the spotlight, that it irks him a little bit when every single struggle of his is probed to no end? The second he misses a few fairways, it's like the end of the world. Sabbatini, in saying "the new Tiger" is implying what everyone always does when he struggles; that Tiger isn't as dominant as he once was.

Bringing up the 9/12 tournaments he's won is a very good way to retort.

posted by dfleming at 01:56 PM on July 07

Yes, it is. But humble it ain't.

Tiger's been beatable before during an 18-month stretch -- he didn't win a full-field PGA tournament from July 2003 to January 2005.

posted by rcade at 02:16 PM on July 07

Bringing up the 9/12 tournaments he's won is a very good way to retort.

But doesn't the fact that it's not 12 of 12 indicate that Tiger was indeed beatable at least 25% of the time? Tiger seemed to be very thin-skinned indeed when he made such a retort.

So Jim Brown seems to think that Tiger ought to be saying more about inner-city poverty and crime. What is he to say and to whom should he say it? Government program after program has had only marginal and temporary success. Few if any private organizations have the resources necessary to make even a small dent in the problem. Bill Cosby advocated that the problem could only be cured with a change in culture on the part of those who were suffering from the problem. For this he suffered much derision from the black community. I will freely admit that white America (if there is indeed such a thing) has a ways to go in its attitudes on race, but with the almost complete erosion of legal racism, this white male wonders what more I can do.

posted by Howard_T at 03:19 PM on July 07

"I like the new Tiger."

Sabbatini's comment in that regard was taken by me as a smartass remark, implying that the "new Tiger" was someone who sprayed his ball all over the county, and was someone his (Sabbatini's) journeyman hide could hang with. Tiger proceeded to hand Rory his ass to him the next day, (at the 2007 Wachovia Championship) with less than his 'A' game, and again at the Bridgeport Invitational later that year. (Both times Sabbatini was within a shot of Tiger entering the final round, I might add.) And, Tiger often wins with less than his 'A' game.
Do a search of Tiger vs Rory and read a few articles, you will see that most of the other pros on Tour thought Sabbatini was blowin' smoke, too.

Then again, if Rory hadda pulled it off?

Nah.

Tiger always gives respect to the ones who take him to the limit, (why, just this weekend he talked about how Hunter Mahan gave him all he wanted) but if ya bark at the big dog you better be able to back it up. What has Sabbatini done on the course lately, other than maintain his journeyman status?

I think he has made fewer remarks about Tiger being beatable.

posted by mjkredliner at 04:04 PM on July 07

I don't understand where people get the idea that they should decide how to spend other peoples money for them. I think Tiger should spend his money exactly how Tiger pleases.

posted by superchicken at 06:56 PM on July 07

Black people care. He is a positive role model, but doesn't want to be identified as black

This the first time I've ever heard that and Tiger's been around for many years. Tiger comes from a mixed, racial background but it doesn't seem as if he actually looks at himself as being just one race, why would he? I would be proud of all my ethnic backgrounds, why just chose one when you don't have to? Tiger can reach much more people than just blacks, whites or asians if he just continues what he's been doing and that's playing golf and keeping a good distance between himself & thing's people want him to talk about that he may not entirely feel comfortable or informed enough to speak of.

Sports have always been an escape for me and I'm sure for others as well but when athletes start mixing politics with sports or race with sports, that's when I feel the need to change the channel and watch something or someone else that will entertain me and help me forget the everday struggles that we all have dealt with one time or another.

I do understand and want to thank Mr. Brown for all that he has done but the man is from a different era. What if someone has said to him while he was filming "Slaughter" in 1972 that maybe he should be doing something more for his people than making some cheesy flick and kissing on Stella Stevens?

posted by BornIcon at 11:15 AM on July 08

This the first time I've ever heard that and Tiger's been around for many years. Tiger comes from a mixed, racial background but it doesn't seem as if he actually looks at himself as being just one race, why would he? I would be proud of all my ethnic backgrounds, why just chose one when you don't have to?

It's fine to embrace all your different backgrounds. But, in the U.S. of A., a person that looks like Tiger is black, period. (See Obama for more information.) A person can celebrate all the different parts of their background without denying or being bothered by the fact that he is black. Tiger said on Oprah years and years ago that it bothered him to be considered African-American because he is not - he is cablinasian. And, as far as I know, except for the occasional Nike commercial, that has been his final word on the subject. That idea that he isn't black because he has other ethnicities is a complete and utter denial of what it means to be black in America. I don't see any problem with him facing criticism for living in a fantasy world where he isn't black.

Further as Howard says above, there is only so much that white folks can do to help the black community. The black community needs to help ourselves. When the most recognized (and powerful) figures in the black community have no interest, I don't think they should be immune from criticism for that.

posted by bperk at 11:49 AM on July 08

That idea that he isn't black because he has other ethnicities is a complete and utter denial of what it means to be black in America

So...because I say that I'm Puerto Rican instead of saying that I'm black, I'm in "complete and utter denial of what it means to be black in America"? I have no quarrel with Tiger for being proud of who he is and not bowing down to other people's interpretation of who or what he should be. It's hard enough living life as it is but to have other people telling you as to how you should live your life is a "complete and utter" joke.

posted by BornIcon at 12:49 PM on July 08

So wait - if you look a bit black, you're black? What if you are a bit black but you don't look it? Is Ryan Giggs doing enough for the black community in Britain?

The very fact that Tiger has a broad racial background is perfect to allow him to be above the argument. Racism stops when all people are simply considered human and not categorised according to their skin colour. Would Tiger be as famous worldwide if he was white? Absolutely. He's an order of magnitude better at his sport than anyone has ever been. If he wasn't, he'd have been a footnote, no matter what colour his skin is.

Now stop making me agree with Icon. It feels weird.

posted by JJ at 01:53 PM on July 08

Tiger is black. It isn't "other people's interpretation" of what he is. I don't know how there can be any confusion on this matter.

No one is telling Tiger what to do, but he is not immune from being held accountable for his actions.

posted by bperk at 02:02 PM on July 08

So wait - if you look a bit black, you're black? What if you are a bit black but you don't look it? Is Ryan Giggs doing enough for the black community in Britain?

Tiger Woods doesn't just look black. He is black. He is descended from slaves. That's pretty much what it means to be black when you are checking off forms. I feel like I have entered an alternate universe here.

Racism stops when all people are simply considered human and not categorised according to their skin colour.

Racism stops when people stop being judged by their skin color. Black is not solely a matter of one's skin color. It is also cultural, and that is a good thing. Saying someone is black is not perpetuating stereotypes.

posted by bperk at 02:08 PM on July 08

Racism stops when all people are simply considered human and not categorised according to their skin colour. Would Tiger be as famous worldwide if he was white? Absolutely.

That's absolutely nuts, JJ. Tiger Woods has almost no measurable charisma. In as much as I'm capable of judging this, he's not good looking. He gives dreadfully boring interviews.

He would never be the worldwide icon that he is today if he hadn't broken through the barriers he did as a black golfer in a white sport that for decades was denied to members of his race. A white Tiger Woods would be as marketable as Pete Sampras, who dominated his sport for years and bored the hell out of everybody.

Why do people deny that part of Tiger's appeal is based on his skin color? Do we really not remember what it was like to see him striding up the 18th green in that red shirt to claim his first Masters at Augusta in 1997, a club where racism was so ingrained that it did not admit its first black member until seven years earlier?

posted by rcade at 02:50 PM on July 08

Tiger Woods doesn't just look black. He is black.

His father was one quarter native American, one quarter Chinese and half black. His mother is one quarter Chinese, one quarter Dutch and half Thai.

That makes Tiger one quarter black, one quarter Thai, one quarter Chinese, one eighth native American and one eighth Dutch. To say "he's black" and demand that it be left at that is to deny half of his father's heritage and all of his mother's. If you have to put him in an ethnic box, he's more Asian than anything else.

I don't agree, rcade, that he has no charisma - you think he lacks the ability to inspire, influence, charm or persuade people? I'm informed by plenty of reliable (sometimes dribbling) sources that he's plenty good looking, and not just because he's ripped. He gives boring interviews, but that makes him a sponsor's dream!

Pete Sampras isn't a good analogy. Sampras did what everyone else could do, but just a bit better and a bit more consistently. Woods does things with a golf ball that exceptional golfers find incredible - things that the legends of the game find unfathomable. He hits shots that defy logic and conventional wisdom, and he hits them at key moments. If you want an analogy from tennis, go with Federer who pretty much does the same thing (and as far as I can tell is a global icon too, despite being white, dull and an incredible cry-baby).

I don't deny that Tiger's sponsors would have had to find a different way to market him if he'd been some corn-fed-white-boy-from-Ohio-Nicklaus-clone, but soon enough his play and the manner of his winning (and sometimes his losing) would have shone through. Like Federer, he has achieved something incredible insofar as he has come to be regarded almost unequivocally as the greatest proponent of his sport in history even while he's still, arguably, not even reached his prime.

I remember him winning in 1997 and I remember the greatest thing about it not being that he was black but that he just blew the place to pieces. He took five or six "unbreakable" records and he made breaking them look like child's play. He said it himself - "I don't want to be the best black golfer in the world, I want to be the best golfer period." If he doesn't want to make his race an issue, then why should Jim Brown? Why should we?

posted by JJ at 05:12 PM on July 08

His father was one quarter native American, one quarter Chinese and half black. His mother is one quarter Chinese, one quarter Dutch and half Thai.

I don't think you are correct about his father's heritage. During a different argument, I tried to find this out, and could find neither his Native American or Chinese grandparent. This article says that Earl's grandmother was blond. And, the Chinese came from a joke about his eyes, not a specific grandparent. Earl Woods was a mix of a lot of different things, just like every other descendant of slaves in this country.

Even aside from that, being black is not a strict ethnic heritage because there is no ethnicity from which it derives. Race is an artificial construct woven into our country's history, and still very much part of our culture. Thirty years ago, would Tiger Woods have been exempt from Jim Crow laws, been able to drink from the white water fountain, been admitted to most colleges, or been able to marry a white woman? The answer to all of these questions is no. That is why I am stating it as an absolute fact that he is black. His father was even breaking down color barriers back then.

Race is an issue. Jim Brown and Tiger Woods do not need to make it one. Tiger Woods is merely pretending that it is not one, and closing his ears and yelling "LA LA LA."

On another note, Federer is a not very popular here, despite his dominance. He probably is less well known than 20 athletes in various sports. Tiger fits all the great sports cliches, and breaking down barriers is a big part of that.

posted by bperk at 05:52 PM on July 08

Evidently, Tiger's decision to avoid talking about race, in an effort to keep others from fixating on it, has had the opposite effect of late, thanks in part to Jim Brown (though this is not the first time this line of questioning has arisen).

Sadly, there are those who perpetuate racism under the guise of stating what appearances suggest to be facts.

Perception may equal reality, but that doesn't mean that we as individuals are required to perpetuate stereotypes - let alone give in to the notion that you are who others say you are.

posted by MW12 at 08:18 PM on July 08

Now stop making me agree with Icon. It feels weird

Well, I guess it must suck to be right for the first time in your life. This is my curse that I'll proudly carry alone but at least now you know how I feel. It such a burden

/snarky

Tiger Woods doesn't just look black. He is black

It's not that simple. Just because his skin color suggests that he's black doesn't necessarily means that he is just that. When a person comes from a mixed ethnic background, why do other people insist on that individual to be one specific race? Who are we to make that assumption of who Tiger Woods should be? If one is comfortable in his or her own skin, isn't that what's more important here? Tiger can reach so much more people than just blacks considering he isn't just black. Just being a decent human being and a great athlete should be enough to appease us all but of course there are some that demand much more from one person.

posted by BornIcon at 09:09 AM on July 09

When a person comes from a mixed ethnic background, why do other people insist on that individual to be one specific race?

Ask the people who, for centuries, discriminated against Americans with a drop of black blood. The cultural context of what Jim Brown is saying has to be considered here. He came of age at a time when black athletes had a lot more barriers to overcome. Woods benefited from what Brown's generation accomplished.

Naturally, Brown would like to see an athlete with Woods' opportunity make the most of it by breaking down more barriers instead of playing it safe.

posted by rcade at 09:38 AM on July 09

Yeah, I think some of the confusion here, at least for JJ, might stem from not knowing that great old Jim Crow-era guideline wherein any African-American ancestry = U R BLAK.

posted by yerfatma at 10:38 AM on July 09

He came of age at a time when black athletes had a lot more barriers to overcome. Woods benefited from what Brown's generation accomplished

I'm not disagreeing with your point of view because you are 100% correct. What Mr. Brown and other athletes of his ilk did for the athletes of today should not be overlooked, no one is arguing that.

..Brown would like to see an athlete with Woods' opportunity make the most of it by breaking down more barriers instead of playing it safe.

Now this is what I disagree with since what type of barriers need to be broke down? Jackie Robinson broke the barrier for blacks being allowed to play in the MLB, the President of the United States of America is black..ok, like Tiger, he's mixed. Of course, more can be done for us as a people to get along better but why does it have to be that professional athletes need to do something in order for that to actually become a reality?

posted by BornIcon at 12:18 PM on July 09

Blacks suffer worse public schools, more violence, more gang violence, lower life expectancy and less economic opportunity. With his platform, money and access to corporate leaders, Woods could take on any of these issues and make a huge difference, just as Bill Gates has used his platform at Microsoft to take on malaria.

posted by rcade at 02:36 PM on July 09

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