I’ll admit it. For the past couple of years, I didn’t get it when fans complained about the wussification of sports. I thought the complaints were overblown, a product of social media immaturity, a lack of sophistication and intellectual evolution.
I was wrong. We’ve gone too far with the wussification of sports. I realized it this past weekend when the sports world went gaga over the intense “feud” between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods.
“I’m not going to lie, (Tiger) is not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour,” Garcia said Saturday. “. . . We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”
An ESPN.com headline used those words to justify this headline: “Sergio Garcia rips Tiger Woods.”
Really? That’s ripping a guy?
Garcia was upset because he believed Woods caused spectators in his gallery to gasp when he pulled out his 5-wood while Garcia was attempting a shot. Garcia’s second shot on the par-5, second hole sailed wide right. The Spaniard blamed his errant shot on the commotion ignited by Woods.
Television replays showed Garcia was standing over his ball when the crowd made noise. Additionally, inspired by the Tiger rules violation called in by TV viewers during the Masters, several women phoned NBC’s Johnny Miller during Saturday’s telecast, assuring him Tiger doesn’t carry a 5-wood. The women claimed Tiger carries a 7-wood or an occasional 8-iron depending on what he’s drinking.
According to multiple sources, if numerous women were calling from the 702 Las Vegas area code adamantly and told Johnny Miller had Tiger pulled out his wood, Sergio would’ve heard far more than a gasp.
Woods seemingly confirmed the reports called in by the women and brushed off Garcia’s complaints as petty envy.
“Obviously, (Sergio) doesn’t know all the facts,” Woods bragged. “. . . I pulled out the club and played my shot. Then I heard his comments afterward. Not really surprising that he’s complaining about something.”
I digress. My point is a wimpy, underachieving golfer displaying petty envy, whining about crowd noise and bitching that he doesn’t like the most popular golfer in the world isn’t much of a feud. It’s an episode of Glee.
Ali vs. Frazier, now that was a feud. Ali repaid the kindness and compassion Frazier displayed during Ali’s boxing banishment by labeling Frazier an Uncle Tom and a gorilla.
Isiah’s Pistons vs. Bird’s Celtics — now that was a feud. Dennis Rodman (wrongly) claimed Bird was an overhyped Great White Hope.
John Chaney threatening to kill John Calipari — now that was a feud. Tonya Harding’s goon taking a baseball bat to the legs of Nancy Kerrigan — now that was a feud. Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee, Tupac vs. Biggie and Shawn Kemp vs. Contraceptives were real feuds.
Sergio vs. Tiger just speaks to the wussification of sports, how far we’ve fallen, the level of damage done by well-intentioned sports leagues and their commissioners.
Look at the NBA playoffs. Thanks to David Stern’s fear of another “Malice at The Palace,” the Bulls are drawing a technical foul every time they gently touch LeBron James. Roger Goodell demands that NFL safeties acquire a handwritten note of permission from the back judge before hitting a receiver frolicking across the middle of the field. Rutgers fired its basketball coach because he yelled too loud and his players couldn’t catch his bounce passes.
The players have unwittingly followed their leadership. It wasn’t that long ago that an unshaven, jersey-wearing Rasheed Wallace would enter a postgame press conference with a boxing championship belt draped over one shoulder. Monday night, Dwyane Wade showed up for the allegedly super-physical Heat-Bulls series wearing, skin-tight capri pants and a sports coat. Russell Westbrook has turned the traditional postgame podium interview into a bizarro Ebony Fashion Fair. I actually long for the days when a blunted, tatted and cornrowed Allen Iverson made a mockery of professional decorum in a stylish white T and do-rag.
My God, does anybody keep it 100 anymore?
In this wussified environment, Sergio bitching about Tiger’s 5-wood passes for a feud. It’s not. It’s proof we’ve lost all respect for Man Laws.