Tiger a different hero for blacks

Rating: NNNNNIt's another Sunday, and I'm sitting in my easy chair in my non-rent-controlled Parkdale apartment whiling away another afternoon.


Rating: NNNNN


It’s another Sunday, and I’m sitting in my easy chair in my non-rent-controlled Parkdale apartment whiling away another afternoon watching the Tiger terminate the field and assault the record books on his way to another major. I’m an Eldrick “Tiger” Woods junkie, though I’ve never played a round of golf.

Golf is one of the final frontiers. It has always embodied North America’s apartheid. Until 1961, the constitution of the USA’s Professional Golfers Association stipulated that tournament events were the exclusive domain of Caucasians — coloured folks carried the bags. Then came Tiger. So when the Tiger began taming golf’s most hallowed greens and fairways, it was evident, as Malcolm X once stated, that the “chickens were coming home to roost.”

More than Shaq or Kobe, Tiger is today’s Pele. He’s not brash, doesn’t talk trash, understands who pays his bills. The “Tigermensch” talks in strokes.

While his prodigious drives, sublime short game and exquisite putting draw raves from golf’s pundits and priests, for us converts it’s his seeming invincibility and dogged determination that make Tiger such an astonishingly attractive figure.

But we also love him because he’s money in the bank. In a quixotic, chaotic world, Tiger is a constant. He’s the ultimate Mister Clutch. The classic winner. And when he wins, we win.

Oppressed peoples have always needed heroes. For French Canadians, it was Maurice “the Rocket” Richard, for Jewish Americans Hank Greenberg, for Irish Americans Jack Dempsey.

For black people, competitive sport has often provided the nectar that’s made an otherwise bitter life sweet. Whether it’s been Jackie Robinson or Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali or Venus Williams, the triumphs of our sporting heroes have been celebrated as victories for the black diasporic nation.

Since Tiger launched his global crusade, I’ve been his most faithful disciple, proselytizing folks wherever I go, including my father, who gets giddy anytime “one of us” does something special on TV.

I know that Tiger probably doesn’t spend his days thinking about universal health care (although he does give free golf clinics for minority and inner-city youth) and may never petition for affordable housing or even give me a piece of his millions, but I’ll still follow him the way my Antiguan grandfather faithfully followed Joe Louis in the 1930s and 40s.

For us, Tiger Woods transcends sport. And even if he doesn’t yet know it, we know what he means to us. He’s an affirmation of what we’ve always known — that in the global marketplace, when talent is the currency in use, we, too, can strut our stuff.

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