Tough. Gritty. Passionate. Competitor. These are the words the media and golf fans alike use to describe Jordan Spieth.
Immature. Angry. Disrespectful. Whiner. Those are the words they used to describe Tiger Woods, and in hindsight, they were the same person.
Spieth, 24, has developed a habit for voicing his displeasures along with his anxieties on the golf course. It even seeped over into blatant arrogance at the British Open when he told his caddy to “get get it” after holing a 50-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole. The majority of you giggled as if you had a teenage fever, then bought his excuse of watching too many old British Open replays. Instead, I saw a wicked double standard that has been a culmination of bad behavior and entitlement since he was a 16-year-old phenom. In fact, I saw a person that despite his act off the course, still needs to grows up on it.
Spieth blamed his caddy at The Players, repeatedly whined about a US Open course he won on and has a history of club throwing ( your favorite criticism of Tiger). So why no backlash? Is it because he substitutes “Darn it” for “Damnit” amidst frustration? Is it because you’re in desperate need of a superstar for your game? The hairline you can relate to? Or have you once again mixed up the difference between playing the right way and the white way?
It has become a common theme both in sports and our country: White privilege.
We let Gronk make horrible racist jokes at roasts but turn away quarterbacks for kneeling. We throw fastballs at Latin hitters who admire their home runs too long but embrace Bryce Harper when he charges the mound. And we demanded from Tiger Woods when we accepted from Jordan Spieth.
It’s understandable: The golf world was taken by storm 21 years ago when a lean, strong, unusual looking man walked into your safe space and started twirling clubs and walking in putts. You didn’t know how to handle the F bombs on TV and dropping of clubs, so you chastised and scrutinized Tiger to the point of public apologies. Now, you refuse to hold one of your own accountable.
I do not want Jordan Spieth to change. I believe the lack of personality and expression is one of the main reasons that golf is slowly disappearing from American culture. I may not care for his annotations on all 68 shots on the day, however, he has the right, just like Tiger did to play the game his way. What I can not live with is the sentiment that because he wins golf tournaments, he is somehow mature. Because Tiger Woods won a lot more than he did, and you tried to ruin him.
History has a strange way of revising itself. As Jim Brown said once about Muhammed Ali: “He didn’t go from America’s most hated Athlete to most beloved until he lost the ability to speak.” What the media and public did to Tiger Woods bears far fewer consequences than that of Ali, but if you are going to give Jordan Spieth a pass now at least acknowledge you were wrong then.
So next time you watch Spieth romp around a golf course like a pissed off teenager, ask yourself this: Would I like that guy if he didn’t look like me? For the double standard is a slippery slope the game of golf and the world could live without.