Tampa Bay Sports Day

Rawson Rouses Controversy with Truth

There is an old media double standard in golf – and really sport.  On one hand, golf writers lament about how boring and socially unremarkable so many players are.  On the other, they rail players that make controversial statements or speak their mind.  In effect, a player really cannot win.

On the PGA Tour side, Vijay Singh is one of those players.  The media loves to nail Vijay for pretty much any opinion that he has.  Sergio Garcia gets his fair share of press for speaking his mind.  In his case, it’s deserved because he whines so much.

Tiger Woods is blasted at times because he will offer little in opinion or substance in press conferences.  He does that through his website.  Reporters, though, tend to keep those stories few and far between for the ironic fear of upsetting Woods.

In the last couple of years, there has been an explosion in the development of young, talented, and attractive players on the LPGA Tour.  Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, and others – depending on what you deem physically attractive – have proven that professional women’s golf can be attractive and excellent.

What’s more is that these players and others are more apt to speak their mind with the media.  Christina Kim is a gem of a quote machine and a genuinely interesting person.  She will tell you how it is.  Morgan Pressel does not mince words or emotions.  Neither does Anna Rawson.

Rawson went on an Australian radio station this past week and used the term “dykes” as part of describing the mainstream stereotype of women’s professional golf over the course of the last 25 years.

“The mentality unfortunately amongst the media and the industry hasn’t changed,” Rawson said.  “They still think we’re at 25 years ago when the tour was full of, you know, a lot of dykes and unattractive females nobody wanted to watch.”

Of course, since Rawson dropped the term media into her statement, she was inevitably going to get it from the media as to how “out of line” she was by using the word “dyke.”

Let’s be clear here.  Dyke is an offensive term to some.  Some defending Rawson say that the term isn’t offensive or that some lesbians use it to describe themselves.  Basically, it’s the defense used by white people when they use the “n word.”  That won’t fly.

But, her defenders are right that Rawson didn’t intend to offend anybody with what she said.  In fact, I’ve heard mutterings like that around professional events, golf clubhouses, and among sports fans for years.  I’ve heard this stuff at LPGA events!

Rawson is right.  The attitude toward female professional golfers is slow in changing despite the influx of such great talent.  It has to be frustrating at times, to the point that someone might let their guard down and use a word like “dyke.”
Anna Rawson intended to explain how she feels that her and her colleagues are perceived by their own media and industry.  She did it in an honest fashion, using words that are lobbed around in private by naysayers.  When she uses it in public to confront reality, she is the one to pay for it?  That makes no sense whatsoever.

The reason that Rawson is getting the treatment that she is in the press is simply due to the insertion of media into the quote.  Rather than addressing the substance of what Rawson said – media opinions about female golfers – writers have harped on a single word in a bigger message.

The LPGA Tour is trying to grow by getting younger, more talented, and yes, more attractive to men.  It is a strategy that is working although perhaps not at as quick of a pace as desired by the players.  Playing for purses that are one-third those of men will make golfers hungry, frustrated, and sometimes be blunt in public.

It doesn’t mean that Rawson does not have an appreciation for who came before her or how hard many women toiled on the course to get the LPGA Tour to where it is today.  It means that she is acutely aware of how the public thinks, and that it will never hurt her career or the LPGA Tour that she has a dual career as a model.