There are two long standing axioms that come to mind in regard to Steve Williams' comment last week about Tiger Woods' "black arse." The first is that it is better to stay quiet and have people think you're an idiot, than to open you mouth and remove all doubt. Well, Steve just couldn't keep his mouth shut.
After years of boorish behavior while toting Tiger's bag, Steve actually became a sympathetic figure after Tiger unceremoniously dumped him last summer. I count myself among those who thought Steve's loyalty to Tiger through the post-Thanksgiving debacle of the past two years deserved better treatment than to be fired via a phone call. However, after hooking up with Adam Scott, it looked like it was going to work out just fine for Williams...until Scott won and Steve decided he suddenly was in need of telling the world how important the win was TO HIM! He unraveled any sympathy he had accrued and went back to being the overbearing arrogant caddie who doesn't realize his place in the big scheme of things.
Mostly, I think Williams had had his moment of redemption, taking his shot at Tiger in the aftermath of Scott's victory. In the ensuing months nobody seemed too interested in how Tiger and Steve were doing in their personal (non)relationship. Of course that all changed at the caddie event last week.
In matters of public comment and the judging of whether or not the comments were racist, it really isn't that difficult. Whether a racist comment can be uttered by someone who, at their core, is not racist, is a much more slippery slope. There are many adjectives that could describe Tiger Woods in a negative way, which is clearly what Williams was trying to do. That he chose "black" rather than "cheating," "disloyal," or a host of other unflattering words can not be excused because Williams thought it was a private function and his comments would remain in the room. We all know the buzz words for different ethnicities, the ones that will immediately draw the response, "Them's fightin' words!" Williams deserved consequences for his comment, plain and simple.
After apologizing to Tiger, who says he's sure Williams isn't a racist, and being told by Adam Scott that there's no room for this kind of thing in his life, Williams appears to have rolled right through this latest controversey with nary a scratch. I'd like to implore PGA Tour Comissioner Tim Finchem to reconsider his lack of disciplining Williams. For all golf fans it would be a joy to have Williams sentenced to writing a thousand times that other long standing axiom I mentioned, the mantra of the caddie life: Show up, Keep up, and Shut up!