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Nothing else this side of the late George Carlin amuses me more than the rules of golf. OK. So not necessarily the rules themselves. More the way the golfing society attaches scriptural significance to them. As if one of the stone tablets God gave Moses on Mount Sinai actually read, "the ball must be played as it lies."
Now a neophyte such as yours truly viewed the weekend's cause celebre with Tiger Woods as a bit exaggerated. There's a rule in place for such a gaffe. The dictators at Augusta National applied it fairly and practically, allowing for some penalty, but not to drive down ratings for the rest of the weekend. Remember: There's a reason green is Augusta's primary color.
Something else, though, something bigger, made the weekend a fascinating sociological study. I wonder now in this world of the Twitterati, where so many varying agendas have instant life, whether true objectivity exists anymore. Especially when such polarizing figures are at the core.
Polarizing figure No. 1: Tiger. He is the sport's primary lightning rod. First, the way television tiptoes around his foibles, on and off the course, is hilarious. Criticize Tiger and lose access? Can't have that. It's like what the New York Post's Phil Mushnick once wrote:
"Tiger Woods must be portrayed as a superior human. TV folks can't help but seize mutually exclusive irrelevancies - success and character - and tell us that they go together like a horse and carriage," Mushnick wrote. "Tiger Woods is not just a great golfer, he's a great person. That he just threw a fit is evidence of his uncompromising quest for perfection. Others who act similarly have 'maturity problems.'"
Polarizing figure No. 2: Augusta National. A bunch of affluent white men who make their own rules, take themselves more seriously than cancer surgery and think roughing it is no mint on the pillow at night. They have so much in common with the rest of us.
And so it sure felt this weekend as though half the opinionators out there were spewing their Tiger agendas while the other half went after the stuffed shirts of Augusta. Meanwhile, could the rest of us hear the truth above the roar?
And whose truth, really?
I'm not sure true objectivity ever existed in the world of celebrity. But it feels as though we're drifting farther away from the town green on this. The example from this weekend is the best illustration. I mean, the rule Woods violated is specifically addressed in the sport's sacrosanct rule book. It was interpreted and applied.
And yet the fallout was cacophonous. Tiger should have withdrawn. Augusta protecting its own assets. The life and times of Roberto De Vicenzo. Blah, blah, blah. I guess now that we all have avenues to make our voices heard, they all must be heard. And what a lesson it provides. We are a country full of agendas, not truth seekers.
Fill disclosure: I don't like Tiger Woods. I find him to be petulant and thin-skinned but with a particular talent for swinging a golf club. And an even greater ability to practice self-indulgence. I'm also not a fan of Augusta National, particularly with its admittance of two women last year: the former Secretary of State and a financier with more money than the Yankees.
It was a triumph for rich people, not feminism. Yet we were supposed to start chanting Helen Reddy lyrics and designate those charming dictators who run the place as progressive thinkers.
But I'd like to think that, while I have no use for either party, that both parties got it right over the weekend. I don't believe Tiger was trying to cheat anybody. I don't believe the dictators, despite lifetimes of preferential treatment, were offering any to Woods.
And to suggest he should have withdrawn or there was some Oliver Stone-like conspiracy theories at work is another example of agendas over truths. And the fraudulence continues.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.