Did golf press fail in covering Tiger Woods’ view Ernie Els should have "worked a little harder" in knee rehab

mulligan, 04 September 2009, 3 comments
Categories: Uncategorized

After our post on Tiger Woods’s statement that Ernie Els “could have worked a little bit harder” in his knee rehab, we have received a number of comments, including from golf beat writers. Thanks to all for those comments. In another forum, we criticized golf journalists as a group for failing to follow up in questioning Woods about his comment–which we believe was inappropriate.

So far, some of the golf beat writers have defended themselves and their lack of follow-up question by arguing: (1) Tiger’s quote was taken out of context and (2) Tiger had no bad intent in his statement about Ernie “could have worked a little bit harder.”

Here’s our problem with these responses. First, as to “out of context,” The Golf Blog has read the quotes from Reuters, ESPN, and the BBC–all reputable press outlets. Unless all these institutions are taking the quote out of context, we think we have the context of the quote, at least on paper, with the sentences before and after Tiger’s comment about Ernie. It’s true we cannot discern tone from the paper accounts, but at least on its face, Tiger’s statement does not seem to be some lighthearted joke. Tiger does offer Ernie some praise, but he also adds some criticism or negative remarks about Ernie not being “a big worker physically.”

Second, as to the “no bad intent” response, we agree intent has some relevance. The statement would be worse if said with some malicious intent. But it doesn’t appear to be so, and we never suggested that Tiger was trying to be malicious or trying to malign Ernie. But “no bad intent” is not a complete defense to whether a comment is inappropriate. The world has witnessed countless inappropriate remarks that were supposedly “taken out of context” or “not intended to offend.” Remember Fuzzy Zoeller’s feeble attempt to explain his inappropriate comments about Tiger Woods as not intentional? Intentional or not, those remarks were out of line.

Finally, it is questionable, if not hypocritical, for ESPN to report on its site a Reuters article in a provocative headline: “Woods: Els didn’t work hard enough” but then have someone from ESPN suggest to The Golf Blog that Tiger’s comment was a non-issue. If it was a non-issue, why did ESPN devote an entire article to it on its website for golf??

UPDATE: Any regular reader of The Golf Blog knows that we are huge Tiger Woods supporters. In fact, some have questioned whether we are on his payroll. (We wish!) While we have openly supported and rooted for Tiger on this site (and, of course, will continue to do so), we feel an obligation to question Tiger’s comment about Ernie. Unlike the silly issue of Tiger cursing on the course that SI reported, we believe criticizing or questioning someone else’s work ethic during rehab following surgery without first-hand knowledge is inappropriate. But the fact that apparently so few members of the established golf press even think such a comment warrants a follow-up question may be even worse. We may be wrong–and maybe some beat writer will ask Ernie Els for his view–but at least we think that Reuters, BBC, and ESPN all reported this story because it was newsworthy. Although we have the utmost respect for many of the golf writers and think they do a great job in reporting golf, we think on this issue they have missed the mark.


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