Outrage ensued after Tiger Woods, arguably the world’s greatest golfer, apparently outdrove fellow pro golfer and friend Justin Thomas, then handed Thomas an object that evoked immediate laughter from both as they strolled down the fairway together.
Inside joke, right? Well, it was supposed to be. But the ever-prying eye of the camera caught a glimpse of the object, and then Wood’s attempt to privately bust his buddy’s chops became a national incident.
The media narrative is that Woods insulted women everywhere by handing Thomas a tampon, implying that Thomas “hit like a girl.” Really? Woods was taking a slice at women by teasing Thomas about his drive?
Upon learning his attempt at roasting his colleague made headlines in a bad way, Woods immediately explained it was not his intention to offend anyone when he decided to rib Thomas. He apologized sincerely to anyone who might have felt offended by his attempt at humor.
But in today’s hypersensitive environment where offense is taken liberally, Tiger’s apology fell on unhearing ears. Critics were relentless: He’s a 47-year-old grown man. He’s the father of a daughter. He should know better. What was he thinking?
Well, I’m thinking he was thinking: “I’ll bet I can get Justin to laugh if I hand him a tampon after I outdrive his ass!”
That’s what guys do — particularly on a golf course or a basketball court or during competitive endeavors. They constantly gig each other over stuff that doesn’t matter. Right now, there’s a bunch of guys reading this article thinking to themselves, yeah, that’s what we do.
Some think it’s funny, some think it’s not. But the world keeps turning.
Golfers — professional, and amateur — have lighthearted moments on the course where they poke fun at each other over a sliced drive or a missed easy putt or a ball (or six) in the water!
It’s not just golf or even just sports. Lighthearted humor is common in most work and social environments, particularly among friends. Sometimes humor may go over the top or strain a relationship — and it is certainly wise to exercise discernment, because not everyone has the same sensibilities.
But do we really want to silence the jokesters and storytellers and put an end to our ability to laugh at silly things?
Tiger could have engaged in a more politically correct expression of humor. He could have simply said something along the lines of, “My, my, old chap, my ball went farther than yours! Isn’t that a hoot?” Instead, he resorted to a more subtle unspoken gesture that he and Thomas humorously understood, and it wasn’t intended to knock anyone.
It’s not a slight against women to tease a man for acting like one. That’s because men and women are different. The core of the joke is that men shouldn’t act like women, and vice versa. It’s not a knock on women but on men.
No such reasoning holds any weight with the self-appointed judges of social behavior. They interpreted Woods’ teasing as way too crude. Even if Thomas took no offense, say the busybodies, Woods still insulted all women by suggesting that women can’t hit the ball as far as men.
But let’s put the incident in perspective. It’s not as if Woods publicly proclaimed at a press conference that Thomas “hits like a girl.” Had he done so, that kind of dig might have warranted an “Ouch!” or a “C’mon man.”
But the pure-as-snow types don’t seem to care how a joke is intended. Context doesn’t matter. To them, it’s simply intolerable to imply even privately that men can hit the ball farther than women. Never mind that women, in fact, generally do not strike the ball as far as men.
That’s precisely why every golf course has a different location for women to hit their tee shot. They’re called the “ladies’ tee,” and they allow women golfers several yards’ grace — ostensibly to make up for the distance gap between men and women drives off the tee.
Many women are excellent golfers. And most women golfers I know can beat me on the golf course rather soundly. As a general rule, however, men are expected to hit the ball harder and farther.
And what guy hasn’t gotten lightheartedly crushed by brash commentary when his tee shot fails to make it to the ladies’ tee? (A standard ritual follows such an outcome, but fortunately it is rarely executed by the offending player.)
One of my favorite Bible verses — John 8:7 — says it best: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” With those simple but powerful words, Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of a murderous mob who, self-righteously, were quick to demand a woman be stoned to death for her sin without regard to their own. Stunned by the truth of His powerful words, the mob dropped their stones and walked away.
If a Bible citation seems a bit strong for an article about applying common sense to current events, we could instead reference a more secular adage that makes the same point: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I am not so much defending Woods. He’s a big boy and more than capable of defending himself — if defense is even the right choice of words. More to the point, I’m suggesting we ignore the hypersensitive PC police who think even a harmless joke between friends is an offense against humanity. With all of the chaos in the world right now, don’t we have more pressing worries?
This public berating of men — or what’s called toxic masculinity — is a dangerous pattern in America. The supposed outrage over a joke is rooted in the self-righteous hypocrisy of critics pretending they are as pure as the wind-driven snow. Glass houses? Everyone’s got one!
People may have differences of opinion on what constitutes funny. They may have differences of opinion on when it’s appropriate, if ever, to engage in humor that might be considered crude or off-color. And there is nothing wrong about confronting humor that goes wrong or is in poor taste. But most people enjoy a good joke even if it’s a bit over the top.
At an event I attended, a female presented a male colleague with a gift box that was revealed to contain two shiny steel balls. Funny? For some, maybe. For others, maybe not. But the world continues to turn.
I can only hope that the people who openly lost their minds over Tiger’s gag have never told an off-color joke or laughed at a crude remark or teased a friend in a politically incorrect manner — especially if such incidents were caught on tape. Otherwise, they could end up with a lot of broken glass.