- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

Tiger Woods, the media-appointed deity with one remarkable skill, is being urged to save the golf-playing women of the world from their male oppressors.
This is a peculiar calling to be thrust on Woods, if only because he is a 26-year-old golfer and the world is a highly complicated place, usually resistant to the social implications of the games men and women play.
We in the sports media like to believe otherwise, because on most days, we traffic in the absolutes of winners and losers and think with all the depth given to senior superlatives.
Golf is a rare game, and rarer still is the woman in a burqua scrambling to make par. Her exclusion from the inner sanctum of Augusta National is possibly a concern, though distant from the day-to-day struggle of food, shelter and staying alive.
Woods, who has not agreed to save anything yet, except the game of golf, has plenty of time to develop the insufferable pomposity that America expects from its icons.
This transcendent quality is often laughable, part of the game within the game, sufficient enough to the dimwits who equate fame and competence in one area as the be-all clarity to all facets of human existence.
A few take the perk more seriously than others.
Alec Baldwin, for instance, has one of the most acute social consciences in America.
Whenever there is a camera stuck in his face, Baldwin is liable to pontificate about our political policies in the Middle East, the jittery stock market, the logging industry, the whale and whatever else is deemed worthy of his apt mind.
Baldwin, of course, is entitled to his superficial opinions, although the value placed on them is skewed. Baldwin has not devoted his professional life to studying the big questions of the day. He is not with a think tank. He does not come with a bunch of fancy college degrees. He is just another celebrity who has the arrogance to think that what he has to say is important. He is right.
Fame is a currency all itself in America, and all too many Americans, with all their pop-culture obsessions, imagine the famous to be vast storehouses of knowledge and insight.
In this context, the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is an awful thing to waste in the pages of People magazine.
Silly as it is, celebrities, athletes included, are routinely encouraged to embrace a cause, so long as they come down on the proper side. Remember when Haiti was fashionable, when the oh-so-sensitive were feeling the island nation's pain? The grandstanding didn't amount to much. Haiti soon passed from America's radar screen, and the Haiti today is every bit the basketcase it was then.
Feeling pain can be a career in itself. A number of entertainers adopt this or that cause and wind up looking like Third World dictators after affixing the requisite ribbons to their chests.
Michael Jordan once told a breathless one that "Republicans buy shoes, too," a fair enough retort to a socially loaded question that begged the feel-the-pain ploy favored by Democrats.
Jordan's political and social leanings are no one's business, and arguably, his reticence in this regard is one of the reasons he is so likable. Whatever his politics and social views, they are his alone, as yours are, and reflect his reality.
Woods, as the heir apparent to Jordan, is a super endorser who is bound to offend part of his fan base if he ever employs a heavy social hand. He and Jordan probably have had this conversation.
If Jordan had adopted every cause and project imposed on him by the media in the last 10-15 years, he probably would have ceased to be who he is.
Jordan is the best there ever was in basketball. Beyond that, he has been remarkably human, ordinary, subject to the same ups and downs as everyone else. Why should we expect him to have answers? Why should we look to him to lead us? The same baggage is now being foistered on Woods in venue after venue, as the hors-d'oeuvres to the golf.
The disconnect is obvious on a planet that has pushed past the 6billion population mark.
The planet is teeming with danger, incredible injustices and a self-destructive pathology. The planet also is dealing with the non-inclusive membership rolls of exclusive country clubs. Imagine that.
Now, it seems, it is up to Woods to show us the way.

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