Why Tiger isn’t Muhammad Ali

Original article, by David Zirin and subtitled Comparing Tiger Woods and the scandal he’s embroiled in to the personal and professional savaging that Muhammad Ali suffered is more than insulting, via Socialist Worker (US)

“Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the Black world. I’ll always have a home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.”–Muhammad Ali

The fascination with Woods should not be of any surprise. He’s one of the great and powerful who have been caught, and we feel better when that happens. It makes our stodgy little lives feel a bit better to see one of the great and powerful brought to heel.

It’s a shame really. It’s all part of the societal pressure bleeding the needs to be done to keep docile America from erupting. And in this brave new 1984 world in which we live, pressure needs to be vented until it is too late for any significant mass movement to arise before the complete collapse of the state. We’re going through that collapse now, and so the venting becomes more obvious.

CAN ESPN please declare a company-wide moratorium on comparing current athletes to Muhammad Ali? I thought it was unfortunate when columnist Jemele Hill wrote that anti-choice icon Tim Tebow was “as courageous” as Ali. But that comparison is inspired compared to recent comments by “ESPN’s The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons.

Woods isn’t important, actually. He could have been. He could have used his lofty perch like Ali did. He chose not to. That’s the sad part about this, I think. This could have been happened (and will) to just about any celebrity. In the long term, it will make an interesting episode on Oprah. Nothing more and nothing less.

Simmons wrote that Tiger Woods’s return to golf from “sex addiction” would be tougher than Ali’s return to the ring after being banished for opposing the war in Vietnam. Yes, for Simmons, Ali’s efforts to resist the military draft are dwarfed in importance by Tiger’s efforts to resist nookie.

I’ll let you read the rest of the article. Zirin’s right, of course. It’s damning of our society that this has gotten the play it has. It’s part of the smoke and mirrors used to keep us docile, and well allow it. The society, as we have allowed it to become, deserves no better. Period.

We can change that. The only important question is if we will.

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  1. Blech.

    • Xanthe on March 5, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    The fascination with Wood had not been of any surprise. …[a]nd we feel better when that happens.  It makes our stodgy little lives feel a bit better to see one of our great and powerful brought to heel.

    Disagree completely.  Seems to me the media is more caught up than the folks out here trying to survive with a modicum of grace.  The quote by Simmons is silly but what else is new with the media.  Why should sports be any different than the very serious people who lecture us every day.  It has all the elements of Greek Tragedy and that is worth thinking about (for about half an hour – an hour if one is bored or is a lit major/theatre buff).  Most of the people I know don’t care much.  He is rich and will remain rich.  He is talented and will remain talented.  He may be embarrassed – but really, who is embarrassed these days and there’s shiny new language to explain everything away.

    As to what he may have done – I presume you mean political/social activism.  He chose not to and he has that right.  You know these talking heads have to justify their existence – and Tiger gave them a pot of gold.

    I wish him and his family well.  I’m tired of the whole thing frankly.

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