Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Bad Words, Worse Consequences

There are a lot of angles to the Kelly Tilghman situation. She’s back on the air and Tiger said it was a “non-issue.” Fair enough but on the outside, a lot of things have happened.

The editor of GolfWeek was fired for putting a noose on the cover of the magazine. He was just trying to further the discussion but his bosses considered it the height of insensitivity and he lost his job.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem railed against the cover when it first came out and that probably led to the firing. When asked about it, Ben Wright had plenty to say. Wright was fired from CBS for his comments about lesbians on the LPGA Tour and his observation that “women’s boobs get in the way of the golf swing.”

“I think she has very little talent,” Wright said. “I’m amazed that she’s gotten just a slap on the wrist. I can’t stomach the woman.” Was he sympathetic? “Not one bit,” Ben continued. “Think before you speak.”

Fuzzy Zoeller hasn’t had any comment but it is interesting that he was destroyed in public and lost millions in endorsements, in essence fired, after his comments in 1997 when Tiger won his first Masters. Zoeller’s thoughts were in response to a question under the oak tree at Augusta, after his round with a drink in his hand and who knows how many before. His comments were wrong-headed, as were Kelly’s. But the punishments have been very different.

Fuzzy was virtually forced off the face of the earth when it came to making money outside of swinging a golf club. Tilgham is back to work in two weeks. I hadn’t thought of this before but is there a gender disparity at work here?

Not being black, I’m sure I can’t appreciate the depth of the negative connotation of a noose or any phrase that includes the word lynching. Knowing that Tilghman went to Duke, maybe that was part of her lexicon growing up. But as the lead anchor in a major sport, she has to know better and measure her words better.

I know how easy it is to paint yourself into a corner when it comes to ad libbing but based on the knowledge of the inflammatory nature of certain words. I thought she got off light.

As for Wright and Zoeller, both white men, they paid a very steep professional price. I’ve seen Ben work occasionally but he’s like he’s radioactive when it comes to a network hiring him. Zoeller just received an apology from some of the sponsors who dropped him but he’ll never recoup his reputation or the years it cost him.

Tiger left Zoeller out to twist in the wind as well as compared to how he defended Tilgham immediately. She’s not a competitor for Tiger and she’s a de facto “friend” of Woods’. So she gets to apologize and get back to work.

It hardly seems fair.