During their usual post-round banter as they wrapped up Day 2 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Tilghman and cohort Nick Faldo discussed young players who could possibly challenge Tiger. Faldo, ever the joker, said perhaps the youngsters should “gang up (on Tiger) for a while.” The pair laughed a bit before Tilghman responded by saying, “Lynch him in a back alley.” The pair chuckled awkwardly before moving on.
If anyone is wondering, I wasn’t watching the broadcast at the time. My practice is not to watch golf tournaments before weekend play begins unless its a major championship.
Here’s the Youtube video.
A little background information on Kelly. She played college golf at Duke, pro golf on foreign circuits in Asia and Europe, and has been a Golf Channel announcer for 10 years. I have no opinion of her skills as a broadcaster. For the most part I tune out these announcers and follow what’s happening on the course instead.
Kelly’s comments were tasteless. She apologized to Tiger. Mark Steinberg, Tiger’s agent, said this was a non-issue. That should have ended the matter.
Then last night Golf Channel suspended Kelly for two weeks. Ironically her first tournament back will be the PGA’s tour stop in San Diego. That will also be Tiger Woods first tournament of 2008. Kelly will be working the tournament. I can already smell the media circus that is likely to take place that weekend.
The Reverend Al Sharpton is not happy that Kelly was just suspended.
The racially tinged comments by Golf Channel broadcaster Kelly Tilghman officially became a cultural and political issue Wednesday night when Rev. Al Sharpton demanded that the network fire her or face picket lines, part of growing fallout that precipitated a two-week suspension for the network’s lead play-by-play host.
“This cannot just go with, ‘I apologize, me and Tiger are friends,'” Sharpton told CNN. “We are in an era now where we see hangman’s nooses all over again. I don’t know why that (phrase) would pop into her head, but it popped out of her mouth and she should be accountable for it. “This is not about Tiger Woods. It’s about the station and using public airwaves to offend people. This is not about making Tiger a civil-rights leader. Tiger has the right to his own private feelings and his relationships.
“This is about saying this woman’s language violated the civil rights that you have been entrusted with an FCC license not to do.”
The civil rights movement in 50 years has morphed into what an announcer says or can’t say in a golf broadcast? Good lord.
Golf Channel may have had no choice but to suspend Kelly in order to placate people. Maybe those people included that network’s sponsors. Should Kelly be suspended? First let me say I am a proponent of free speech, and have defended people from Cindy Sheehan to Ann Coulter. People can say what ever they want, however if its outrageous enough, they have to expect a backlash. That applies to Kelly and Reverend Sharpton also. To have an honest discourse, I think all views have a right to be aired. Who’s to say what is right and wrong? Not to say there can’t be times action is required, I just don’t see it here.
The backlash Kelly may suffer could be substantial. Fuzzy Zoeller made some off color comments about Tiger Woods some ten years ago. As of today Fuzzy is still taking a hit in the wallet for it. Kelly is unlikely to face similar consequences, that is unless Golf Channel caves in further and fires her. The suspension and public humiliation is enough. In Kelly’s case, firing her would be an overreaction.
My friend, Palm Beach Post golf writer and blogger Craig Dolch, gets it right when he says– “If Woods doesn’t have a problem with it, why should anyone else?”