Keep it in your pants, Elk. Your phone, that is.
Former PGA champion Steve Elkington found himself under fire again on Tuesday for a 140-character message. This time, Elkington offered commentary on University of Missouri defensive back Michael Sam, who has the potential to become the first active, openly gay player in the NFL. Or, as Elkington claims, on ESPN's coverage of Sam. You decide.
Oh, I get it. A handbag toss. Because Elkington thinks all gay men are incapable of exhibiting stereotypical masculinity.
The Aussie tried to rationalize his since-deleted tweet suggesting he was unhappy with ESPN's emphasis of Sam's sexuality instead of treating him like any other player at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
"I'm for Sam I'm against ESPN telling me he's gay," Elkington tweeted at Yahoo Sports' Shane Bacon.
With that explanation not doing him any favors, Elkington offered an unfortunately worded example of what he meant: "It goes back to 'a ball hit an oriental spectator'.There's no oriental spectators..There just spectators..'like m Sam...He's just an athlete."
As if the original offending tweet didn't indicate it, Elkington's use of the anachronistic adjective "oriental" is proof positive he and his vocabulary are stuck in a bygone era.
Elkington deleted the original tweet (and subsequent ones), he says, at the behest of the PGA Tour, which essentially confirmed in a statement that it in no way supported the commentary. The explanation Elkington offered suggests the tweet would still be out in the ether were it not for the PGA Tour's awareness that its mere presence was bad for him, them and golf at large.
Elkington has consistently demonstrated an astounding tone-deafness on Twitter, ranging from chauvinistic to racist commentary. He's joked about a fatal helicopter crash in Scotland. He used a highly offensive term to describe Pakistanis. He said golf reporter Stephanie Wei had "no cans" in response to a picture she tweeted. And now this. Dimwit bingo!
Of course, the golf community has to address what Elkington said. Part of the reason why is because Elkington is a former major champion and what he said makes him sound like an ass. Primarily, however, we have to talk about this because, ironically, it makes the stereotypes about golf seem on point.
Who cares what Steve Elkington thinks about anything? Truthfully, most times the answer is, "No one outside of golf." And then he says gay men should be carrying and furling purses all over the joint. Golfers notice and facepalm, knowing what he said will be magnified and, at least in some way, extrapolated to represent the sport at large. You know, the sport that has an exclusionary history -- by race, gender and class.
So when my colleagues say Elkington has the right to say whatever asinine thing he wants, in principle, they're right. In truth, they're not. Like it or not -- and I don't -- Elkington is considered an ambassador for golf. Anything he says can and will be used against golf. Every outlandish, boorish, stupid thing he says.
Let my request, then, not be understated. Mr. Elkington, stop. Keep it to yourself. Keep it all to yourself. Find that secret in the dirt, like the name of your website. Hopefully that will distract you enough that you won't think to whip out your phone the next time you think to brighten our world with your Dark Age thinking.
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