I started reading Chip Brown’s magnificent profile of Tiger Woods this morning and as I finished the first paragraph, I thought to myself of how in the 1950’s the only black men allowed at the country club outside of Cleveland my father belonged to were the caddies. And then it occurred to me that maybe Tiger Woods prepared the psychological path for Barack Obama’s presidency. Here’s how the article starts.
It’s hard to remember now the special frenzy at the beginning, when all the dreams that were projected onto Tiger Woods seemed part of his genius for the game. It was as if there were no divide between the things he could do and the fantasies he could elicit. He was a confluence of races with a sovereign smile and a killer name, and he arrived as if he had been born not just to win golf tournaments and out-earn everyone except Oprah on the Forbes list of highest-paid celebrities, but also to redeem the racist history of his sport and cure a thousand other ills as well. Over the top with pride, his father, Earl, was quoted calling him “the Chosen One” and prophesying that Tiger would “do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.”
It is of course hard to sustain a frenzy, but as Tiger has proven, with discipline all things are possible. Its hard to describe why Tiger’s role in golf was so different from say Jackie Robinson’s role in baseball, but when you realize that Augusta National, where the Masters is played didn’t have a Black member until 1991, you get the point.
Earl Wood’s paternal pride may have been “over the top”, but if America elects Barack Obama President, it will definitely change the course of humanity. And for that we may all have to thank Tiger Woods for blazing some sort of strange trail through the American psyche.