Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sergio Garcia Should Be Punished After 'Fried Chicken' Insult Against Tiger Woods

Too often sporting bodies fail to take the necessary action when issues like racism come up. It has happened in football time and time again where bodies like the FA and UEFA have turned a blind eye, or at least absolved themselves of the responsibility to punish, when racism has been the issue. Golf is in danger of going down the same route in the wake of Sergio Garcia insulting Tiger Woods with a blatantly racist remark early this week.

At a recent dinner in London, Garcia was asked by a reporter whether he would have dinner with Woods following the pairs recent feud. Garcia jokingly responded that he would happily have him for dinner every night and would serve him 'fried chicken'.

Garcia quickly apologized for the incident at a press conference with European chief executive George O'Grady and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem reportedly accepting that an apology was enough. Woods has publicly stated that he was extremely hurt by Garcia's jibe and has also reportedly rejected attempts from Garcia to apologize personally.

The fact is that Garcia's comments were extraordinarily offensive and racist. The failure of Golf's governing bodies to act in any serious way should be a major concern and is symptomatic of professionals sports that all too often fail to act on serious issues. 

To be clear 'fried chicken' as a remark directed at African Americans is extremely offensive. Fried chicken is a common food from the American south. It was eaten by black slaves in the south because chicken was virtually the only source of meat. Such a remark made towards Woods with those clear connotations are a disgusting disgrace and made in any context must be acted against.

Woods and Garcia have had a long time feud and dispute ever since a 19-year old Garcia publicly challenged the then dominant Woods. Garcia has never lived up to his potential as a golfer and somehow he and Woods have always managed to end up in the headlines in public spats.

The most recent of those occurred in the wake of Tiger's Players' Championship victory with Garcia accuses Woods of gamesmanship and calling him a liar, while Woods labelled Garcia as a 'whiner'.


The war of words carried over to this week when Garcia's final comment went far beyond the realms of appropriateness and acceptability. 

It may seem like an apology is enough, everyone should move on and no punishment should be handed out. However, that really misses the point. Garcia and any professional golfer are representatives of the sport. They need to think about everything they say. In this case, it wasn't a careless or poorly worded comment, it was a designed attack made without thought.

More must be done. Golf must take a firm stance against racism. It must be clear that its leaders cannot get away with such blatantly racist comments made so flippantly without punishment. An apology isn't enough in this case. This is not about targeting Garcia. It is about ensuring that sport is a leader against discrimination. 

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