July 2, 2009

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown Wrongly Rips Tiger Woods

According to football legend Jim Brown, Tiger Woods should use his status as the world's pre-eminent and most recognizable athlete as a platform from which to speak for social change. What Brown ignores or overlooks is that Woods is already doing just that, albeit in a quiet but very effective way.

Brown made the following comments on HBO's "Real Sports" program in an episode which will begin airing Tuesday:
“You know what’s so interesting about Tiger to me? If it was just a matter of me looking at an individual that's a monster competitor, this cat is a mamajama; he is a killer. He'll run over you, he'll kick your ass. But as an individual for social change, or any of that kind of ----? Terrible. Terrible. Because he can get away with teaching kids to play golf, and that's his contribution. And in the real world, man, I can't teach no kids to play golf and that's my contribution, if I got that kind of power."
Woods was not Brown's only target for his withering criticism, he also lashed out at former NBA superstar and current Charlotte Bobcat executive Michael Jordan:
“There are one or two individuals in this country that are black that have been put in front of us as an example. But they're basically under a system that says, ‘Hey, they're not gonna do a certain thing.’ Yes, that disappoints me because I know they both know better."
It was after his playing days that Brown made his greatest mark on the world: he founded several "community programs aimed specifically at improving economic opportunities for American minorities. His latest enterprise is Amer-I-Can--its name emphasizing the "I Can"-- a project aimed at fostering self-esteem and diffusing tensions among urban gang members. Brown has created a 15-step course in personal responsibility that he has introduced everywhere from maximum-security prisons to encounter sessions in his own Hollywood living room." In short, Jim Brown was and is a difference maker in our world, one that everyone should be grateful to for his work.

But in Tiger's case he's wrong. Woods is already a social activist who is making a difference and in ways that far exceed golf. In USA Today:
"Greg McLaughlin, director of the Tiger Woods Foundation, said Wednesday that Woods' success in golf is understood by the public, but his true focus is not.

"When the foundation started in 1996 our goal was to provide opportunities for disadvantaged kids," McLaughlin said. "His focus is on educational resources for disadvantaged children."

"To that end Woods created the Tiger Woods Learning Center in California, and he's currently planning another in Washington, D.C. The foundation is considering three locations, and Woods hopes to have a decision on the site this year.

"Like the learning center in California, it will have a limited component of golf and will not be a place where students learn to play golf. The focus will be on academics."
If that's not empowerment and making a real difference, what is?


  1. Jim Brown may have questioned Mother Teresa's motives. He is as bad as the dueling reverends - Jackson and Sharpton. Never met a TV camera or microphone they did not like...

  2. I think both men (Brown and Woods) seek to make a positive difference for minorities and the disadvantaged. Jim Brown, to me, has always had a combative personality and style. Plus, he is the product of a different (and highly volatile) era, which probably says a lot about how he approaches things. Tiger has proven that he wants to do good works (he's doing them), but he's not a boat rocker. He is who he is. Does that mean he's selling out?

  3. Jim Brown has been on his high horse for years on this same subject - but nobody seems to remind him that when HE was a player, HE wasn't going around pushing for political or social change. He was busy earning a living to the best of his ability. To be honest, I STILL don't know what Brown does other than tell other people what they should be doing.

  4. I have a general disagreement with the idea that any famous/wealthy person has an obligation to any cause simply because he/she is famous/wealthy.

    Certainly, being involved in the community and helping others is what we should strive for as a society. But, it's like saying we own a piece of a person to say that he's not doing enough or should do this or that instead.

    As you said, Tiger Woods has his foundation and maybe its accomplishments are not widely known, but I have a much higher respect for a celebrity who helps quietly than for one who wants everyone to know that he's helping.

    People should engage in activism to the extent that they feel drawn, not to the extent that others feel they should. That goes for all of us, not just those in a position to use fame to further a cause.


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