COMMENTARY | The recent feud between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods has turned ugly. While Garcia's recent comments at a press conference prior to the 2013 BMA PGA Championship were a mere two sentences, his words speak volumes on how far we have come as a society in terms of eradicating racism in our culture.
Unfortunately, for Garcia, professional sports provide the grandest of stages and the brightest spotlight when mistakes are made and poor judgment is displayed.
Golf hasn't exactly been the poster child for equality and fairness over its history. It is a creature that, at one time, thrived on its own organic exclusivity. Golf was originally meant to be enjoyed by society's elite, which at one time was defined by the number of sheep you owned. It was a pastime meant to be enjoyed by few yet heralded by many. It was all very disgusting, to be honest.
As a result, the idea of an African-American golfer playing in what was once considered to be a "white man's sport" was downright unspeakable. This mentality continued well past the Civil Rights movement in America, albeit in less pronounced ways. Make no mistake: Even if people weren't talking about it, racism in golf remained alive and breathing.
In 1990, the New York Times ran a story about Shoal Creek Country Club -- an all-white private country club -- that was the site of that year's PGA Championship. Club founder Hall W. Thompson issued a statement that "we don't discriminate in every other area except the blacks." Thompson's statement sparked one of the more inflammatory and socially polarizing events that professional golf had ever seen. The PGA of America quickly became the subject of scorn and protest, most notably from Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
''To cooperate with evil is to affirm it,'' Lowery said at the time. "'Golf is deceptive, because it seems like only plush clubhouses and green fairways. It looks very decent. But this blatant admission that we don't want black folks uncovered a hidden agenda that really isn't hidden anymore.''
Less than a decade later, Tiger Woods happened. Barriers were broken down and professional golf received a much-needed wake-up call. Thankfully, golf has never been the same since.
At least, that is until Garcia's comments earlier this week.
What is most disappointing about Garcia's poor taste in humor -- other than his carefully contrived "I didn't mean it to come out that way" apology -- is that fact that he should know better when speaking publicly. Garcia's suggestion that he was "caught off guard" by the question is laughable. This is a man who has been a professional athlete in the public eye for 14 years. I'm going to guess he has been asked odd questions in the past. Call it a hunch.
It is clear that Garcia attempted to answer a playful question in a way to insult Woods, regardless of what he said after the fact. All Garcia did in the process was prove that he was more interested in throwing fuel on the bonfire separating him and Woods than taking the high road and moving on.
Who would have thought the road Garcia preferred to take would be so low?
Adam Fonseca has been writing and blogging about golf since 2005. His work has appeared on numerous digital outlets including the Back9Network and SB Nation. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife. Follow Adam on Twitter @chicagoduffer.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sergio Garcia
- Tiger Woods
- professional golf