Tiger 'Spaz' Outrage

According to the British media, Tiger Woods put his foot in his mouth and insulted families of disabled children with this quote following the Masters on Sunday:

“I was so in control from tee to green, the best I’ve played for years… But as soon as I got on the green I was a spaz.”

Spaz, apparently is now one of the more offensive words in the language. Is this ridiculous or what?

However, this hasnt stopped the media, particularly in the UK, from rapping Tiger on the knuckles for his choice of words and saying he should apologize (he did, by the way). Coverage from the U.K. on Tigers gaff can be found on the BBC site here , while some British paralympian Ive never heard of said Woods was stupid for making the comment. Of course that remark is offensive to people of below average intelligence. Stop me now.

Of course this is just a tempest in a teapot. As per the Websters definition:
slang : one who is inept : KLUTZ

I think that’s a pretty apt way of describing how Woods putted on Sunday afternoon. I’m confounded by why we have become so upset by these kinds of subtle mistakes of language in the U.S. and the U.K. (and Canada). There seems to me to be much, much bigger things to be upset about than some athlete who had a poor choice of words. Politicians offend me more regularly and they choose their words more carefully.

What really bothers me is how Woods, a Stanford educated athlete, can continually say “I putted really GOOD” or “I hit it really good.” That offends me. So the spaz remark doesn’t surprise me. Standford grads clearly don’t have a strong grasp on the language.

The most fascinating part of this story is that the U.S. reporters covering Tigers comments changed the quote to remove the offending word. While the story in the UK was originally about his use of “spaz,” that story changed to how the American media removed the word from his quote. Now I’ve cleaned quotes up as a reporter, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually removed a key word like this. Now that is interesting, far more than what Woods actually said. Theres a piece in the Telegraph on just this issue

Heres what the Telegraph had to say:

The LA Times, changed the word to Ëœwreck while The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe all expunged the word completely. Only two US sports news services ran his words in an unedited form.
I’m most intrigued at the fact the word was removed in most quotes without any indication there had been a change. Reporters often remove words in quotes to make the verb tense consistent or to explain the use of personal pronouns. However, that is typically indicated by adding brackets around the word that was changed. In this case it was not done that way.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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