Friday, January 18, 2008

No Mulligans Allowed!

I was watching when it happened. A red flag went up in my head immediately. I thought to myself, "I can't believe she could be so stupid as to say that word." She did, and now she's paying the price.

Kelly Tilghman landed her 1st network job at the Golf Channel as a "twenty-something" with scant experience, but flowing blond hair, piercing eyes and looks that you just can't "teach." Trouble is, it's also hard to teach some of the finer points of broadcasting. It's a "knack." Some have it. Some don't. This was not her first bonehead moment on live television, but it was the first which could be construed as racist, even if it was purely innocent on her part. By all accounts, it was purely innocent. After all, she's a famous personal friend of Tiger's. She even takes part in some of his personal golf events, which raises the question about "conflict of interest," but that's another matter.

She's had plenty of defenders, including ESPN's Mike Tirico, Scott Van Pelt and even Tiger Woods himself. Trouble is, her words are indefensible. She should have known better to even have that word in any recess of her brain, given her duties. In her position, she should have known better than to voice any phrase or concept which could open the door for anyone to raise the issue, let alone Rev. Al Sharpton.

There's been a domino effect on several fronts. Golf week magazine waded into the controversy with a noose on their front cover.

That resulted in an apology, and a firing. Now we all know the name of the magazine game is selling magazines and one of the ways to do that is with a controversial cover, but evidently this went too far for the gentile golf audience, and more importantly, the advertisers who foot the bills. Golfweek's move was far worse than Tilghman's. While her's was the result of stupidity and inexperience. Golfweek's was a calculated move designed to "cash in" on the matter by fanning the flames.

So where will it end? How long will her suspension last? Will they go ahead and fire her? Who knows! One thing's for sure. She's learned one of the most important lessons of live broadcasting. There are no mulligans!

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