I am a golf fan. I am also a fan of competition. A little “ribbing” is always part of the deal. However, in our super-sensitive world, many things are “off-limits.” Such was the case between professional golfers Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.
According to published reports, The Woods-Garcia spat turned ugly last week when Garcia was jokingly asked at a European Tour dinner outside London if he would have Woods over for dinner during the U.S. Open. Trying to go along with the sarcasm, the Spaniard said he would serve fried chicken. Garcia apologized that night in a statement and the next day in a news conference, though he said he had been unable to reach Woods over the phone.
Putting the nature of the comment aside (which is difficult for many) the greater lesson here is that everyone is “on the record” all the time. Those in the spotlight have to choose their words more carefully than ever before.
Growing up, my circle of friends (other boys) threw derogatory comments at one another all the time. Insults were a way of communicating friendship, or even adversarial relationships. Some kids were better at it than others, but most everyone would throw the barbs around.
As I grew older, I saw that insults were not just a tool of the young. As head coach of the University of Florida, Steve Spurrier was notorious for some of his “zingers” — especially when aimed at Florida State or Tennessee. I will never forget “Free Shoes University” or “You can’t spell Citrus without UT.”
Many insults were fired off in the safety of “closed” conversations. Friends and rivals could open a salvo or two with no repercussions. Not so any longer.
Whether you see it or not, the microphone is always on; the film is always rolling. Those in the spotlight — no matter how small — must choose their words carefully.
The nature of Garcia’s comments may be “dry wood” in the fire storm he created — but his loose speech was the spark.
Be careful what you say — I can assure you there is a record of it somewhere.
David Specht Jr. is President of Specht Newspapers, Inc., and Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. Follow his blog at www.DavidASpecht.com