During a press conference recently, Sergio Garcia, a prominent professional golfer made a comment about the world’s number one golfer, Tiger Woods, that made the golf community and the world gasp.
Before I begin, let me provide a brief history about the relationship between these two golfers in case you are not familiar. It started in 1999 when they squared off in the PGA Championship, the final major championship in golf every year.
Tiger was leading the event but a young Sergio (he was 19 at the time) was making a charge with miraculous shots and an energy that only comes from a teenager. Tiger struggled down the stretch but was able to hang on to defeat the young Spaniard. After that exciting finish, the stage was set for a rivalry that could match the likes of Nicklaus and Palmer or the Yankees and Red Sox.
After that lively finish by Sergio, he was aptly nicknamed El Nino because of his energy and youthful exuberance. But, like many a predicted storm system, he fizzled out and amounted to much of nothing. As a matter of fact, the only excitement he generated over the years was when he complained about how lucky Tiger was or how Tiger got all the good breaks and he (Sergio) kept getting screwed.
As good as Sergio was/is, he turned out to be just another cry-baby, trophy generation brat (marked by those born in/after 1980) who thought he should have been given the greatness that others work their whole lives to achieve. He seemed to believe that it was his birthright to have the same respect as Tiger (as well as other golfing greats for that matter) without the same level of achievement.
For me as an American, it’s good to see that this phenomenon of the trophy generation is a worldwide disease and not just bound within our borders. I say it’s “good” only because it seems to be an epidemic that we as humans have to worry about and not just something that Americans have created and will therefore cause us to fall even further behind the rest of the world than we already have.
Sergio, with all due respect, certainly had/has the talent to be as great as he wants, but his attitude has not allowed him to take it to the next level. Over the years, his mouth seemed to always get the better of him with stupid and unnecessary remarks about Tiger, about Americans and even about himself. Recently, however, he said something that shocked the world and even though I am not a Sergio fan, I am going to go out on a limb and say a few things in his defense that I bet millions of people are thinking but are afraid to say!
During a recent tournament, The Players Championship, there was an altercation between Tiger and Sergio (really it was between Sergio’s ears), which the vulturous media jumped all over. During a recent press conference, Sergio was asked if he was going to be having Tiger over for dinner and his response was “we’ll have him ‘round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”.
GASP! – In case you do not know, Tiger is a mix of many races one being black, which is the part of him the chicken comment was directed.
The worldwide press jumped all over Sergio once again. I agree that it was a stupid comment. Sergio’s sponsors immediately came out making sure the world knew they did not support him on this. Sergio came out immediately with “heartfelt” apologies. My reaction, however, was simply “what’s the big deal???”
Consider if he said the following about the following and tell me where I am off base:
Sergio on having Rory McIlroy, who is Irish, over for dinner: “we’ll have him ‘round every night. We will serve potatoes and beer.”
Sergio on having Francesco Molinari, who is Italian, over for dinner: “we’ll have him ‘round every night. We will serve pasta and chianti.”
Sergio on having Martin Kaymer, who is German, over for dinner: “we’ll have him ‘round every night. We will serve bratwurst and beer.”
I could go on and on with worldwide examples of cuisine typical of cultures, but I am sure you get the point. I know Sergio meant it to be a dig at Tiger. I know he was invoking a racial element, but was it really meant to be or was it really racist? Or are we once again making too big a deal out of yet another stupid, publicly-made statement which only garners attention because of someone’s public identity?
Is it any secret that black Americans like and are known for eating fried chicken? Maybe Tiger doesn’t even like chicken, but it is a stereotype like the aforementioned stereotypes for other ethnicities and there is a reason for it … because in large part it’s true!
We are so afraid to speak the truth anymore that when we actually see or hear the truth, we run from it or shout loudly from the rooftops how opposed we are to it just to prove we are not racist. I for one am sick and tired of the PC world we live in and a world where the truth can no longer be stated whether meant as an insult, joke, or simply a casual cultural observation.
One of my favorite songs around Christmas time is Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR07r0ZMFb8
“If you watch the video, listen to the part at 2:02 where D.M.C. says: It’s Christmas time in Hollis Queens, Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens, Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese, And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees”
Hmm, now that’s interesting. He refers to having chicken and collard greens. Why is that? Is he racist? Or is it because it is part of the culture to be black in America and have chicken as part of your staple diet? All of my black friends love chicken whether it’s wings, fried, baked or whatever so why is what Sergio said such a big deal?
Please know that I am not trying to be controversial, but I really am trying to look at this issue from another perspective, a perspective of being real about our culture and the different things that apply to individual groups in America. In other words, stereotypes exist for a reason but we refuse to recognize them honestly and openly.
I am Irish and I know that there is a stereotype that Irish people like potatoes and they are drunks and guess what, it’s true for the most part! Is every Irish person a whiskey-wielding potato junky? No, of course not, but there is a strong number who are. Am I offended when someone makes the typical joke about being a drunk or when I am sent a racially charged joke that identifies the Irish Priest as a whiskey-drinking lush? Absolutely not! It’s a comical description of one group that happens to be founded in some bit of truth.
So, again, I ask the world, what’s the big deal? Maybe Tiger should have quipped back, “Yeah, I’ll have Sergio over and we’ll serve him tacos, or rice and beans, or whatever it is those Spaniards eat!”
Will that have diffused the situation? Who knows? But what I do know is that we better start looking in the mirror and learning how to laugh at our condition rather than always running from stupid comments to show how intolerant or sophisticated we have become. Otherwise, we will always have the same angst and anger towards one another and racism will always get the better of us.
Me, personally, I’d like to live in a world where we can speak openly and not worry about offending someone or group as long as what is said is founded in truth! Or if a joke is made, we should be able to laugh at it because of the truth that it is founded upon!
The real positive to me on this one is that this was said by a European. I find that Europeans constantly thumb their noses at Americans … “The Ugly American”, as we have come to be known, is obnoxious and racist among other things.
Well, it looks like we’re not so ugly after all … Thanks El Nino!