Is Karen Crouse’s Latest Column Racist?

Look, I’m an innocent bystander.  My only interest is in busting the ridiculous media myths surrounding Tiger Woods.  So, leave me out of it:  I am merely reporting what Crouse said and how a reader responded.

Crouse wrote in “There’s a Youth Movement in Golf, and Jordan Spieth Is Leading It“:

What everybody saw were players not made from the same mold as Woods, who elevated the game with his athleticism. Woods in his heyday cut doglegs with his prodigious drives. The strengths of Johnson and Spieth are playing angles and plotting their way around the course like mathematicians. They subdue courses not with brute force but with the brunt of their golf intellects.

I rolled my eyes at that “elevated the game with his athleticism.”  I must have written a thousand times by now that Hale Irwin — who won US Opens in 1974, 1979, and 1990 — was a two-time All-Conference Big Eight defensive back for Colorado.  That means he was called upon to tackle the running backs from perennial ground game powerhouses Oklahoma and Nebraska.  And did so well enough to make All-Conference.  Woods was certainly not “golf’s first athlete”; he was more like “golf’s first suburban accountant gym rat.”  The truth is the PGA Tour had a fitness trailer a full ten years before Woods joined the Tour, and Woods is pretty much a one-sport product of a golf dad.  He also has an ectomorphic body type.  Certainly an ectomorph can be an athlete, but they lean more toward long distance runners than NFL fullbacks.

Anyway, those are the sole thoughts I had while reading that paragraph.  I noticed the clumsiness of Crouse’s words only after reading a reader response:

While its true that the young golfers today are smart and talented, it is also true that Tiger in his hey day was not only smart, talented and brave, he was strong and creative. Some of the shots he hit were pure genius. There is no need to describe his play as “brute force” and the youngsters today as using their “golf intellects”- another racist stab at Tiger. When Black athletes succeed, its never because they are smart or smarter, its usually because of their athletic prowess- just more garbage reporting.

I re-read Crouse’s words and this time I was reminded of the football articles written fifty years ago with titles like, “Why a Black Quarterback Can Never Win in the NFL.”

Karen Crouse — and I really don’t think she intended a racist insult — let the malarkey about Woods being “golf’s first athlete” lead her to a very unfortunately-worded paragraph.  Especially odd is that Woods was known for being a student of golf, and analyzed video recordings of tournaments played at famous courses long before he ever set foot on those courses.

I’m sure many will read this and think the reader’s response was a case of the PC police making a big deal out of nothing.  Perhaps, but here’s my takeaway:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.  Crouse, along with the rest of the golf media, fell in love with the “Tiger is golf’s first athlete” mythology, and now it has led to great embarrassment for her.

I had another problem with the article, which started with the headline.  This new “youth movement” has been underway for quite some time, and I would argue that Rory led it and is still leading it.  That’s no slam on Spieth (and no pun intended there!), but Rory has set many “youngest since” records, and guys like Rickie Fowler and Jason Day have been battling him from day one.

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6 Responses to Is Karen Crouse’s Latest Column Racist?

  1. Sports-realist2 says:

    The media, as we well know, is about 5 years behind REALITY…..The golf channel is closer to 10-15 years behind REALITY, with their programming aimed at, STILL, one fading golfer…

    Todays “Boy who cried wolf-Racism” is just toilet paper……..

  2. Maturity says:

    It’s kind of like grading NFL drafts. Coming out you have all these “supposed to be stars” but it usually takes 3 or 4 years. Of course you have some that hit the ground running (Spieth and Rory) but then you have others (Rickie? Day? Boy I’m drawing a blank) where they have moments but it takes them a little longer to get going. I think that’s why you see the “young guns” really catching on now.

  3. Bird says:

    I guess the def. of racism has changed.

    Brute versus cerebral questioning? That’s been around for ages in most sports.

    • lannyh says:

      What’s kind of funny about the commenter who took exception, he didn’t have a problem with Spieth and Zach being lumped in as non-athletes. Zach is basically the same size as Woods (I just learned that today) and Spieth is a little bigger, and his is a natural size. (I don’t equate size with “athleticism,” but that seems to be a key for Golf Channel.)

  4. Ken says:

    Interesting stuff.

    Is there any anecdote of Woods ever even participating in another sport? According to ESPN these days, fitness itself is now a sport; they even televise some forms of exercise like Crossfit.

    Nicklaus excelled at basketball, football, track, and baseball in high school. I think that he even attracted interest from OSU in at least one of these .

    • Genius says:

      Those were the days before specialization happened. Nowadays, those that show a “genius” level acumen for something are directed to that and that alone. You see other guys like DJ, Gary Woodland, and Serg just to name a few that play enough of a sport on the side to know they can do more than play golf, but they clearly spent a helluva lot more time dedicated to golf.

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