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The Life

December 6, 2002
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They're meeting in a corner office right now, trying to decide whether to walk around with sandwich boards in Times Square or pass out leaflets at the airport. The next step is important, because The New York Times must decide the best way to proceed in its hyperactive campaign to convince Augusta National to admit women.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods status doesn't mean he should lead a crusade.
This is one of the more vexing questions of our time: Why in the world is The New York Times so damned concerned about this issue? They've addressed it more than 40 different times, in news stories, commentaries and editorials. They editorialized in favor of Tiger Woods boycotting next year's Masters, and this week it was revealed that they spiked two sports columns for failing to adhere to the company line.

(Officially, the Times said one column was spiked because it was a direct argument against a Times editorial, which is the kind of internecine warfare the editors discourage, and the other was spiked because it didn't meet "the standards of logic." I guess that means it was lousy, which would be a major policy change for America's newspapers.)

The Times' crusade presents a psychological dilemma. It makes you believe you should care, and it makes you feel guilty when you don't. Honestly, how many people care about this? Men don't care. Women don't care. Golfers don't care. Non-golfers don't care.

Hootie cares, obviously, and so do Martha Burk and The New York Times. (Since The Times wants Tiger to boycott, will it refuse to send its reporters and photographers to Augusta?) It would be a wonderful, candy-and-ice cream world if everybody was included in everything. No barriers, no boundaries, no limits. Kind of like zero-percent financing, on a larger scale.

To be charitable, maybe the idea of taking on a goofy old codger like Hootie Johnson appeals to The Times as sort of a schoolyard-bully alternative to all the should-we or shouldn't-we regarding Iraq. It could be stress release, a break from all the heavy lifting.

But this story has far outlived its importance. This isn't Martin Luther King Jr. marching on Washington, and it never will be. This is a stodgy old club composed of the quietly mega-rich, doing their own thing on their own time in their own place.

As far as causes go, they're playing golf, for heaven's sake. Golf. If they don't let you in, start your own club and leave them out.

This Week's List

Just when you thought sports-talk radio couldn't get any stranger, or any worse: "Let's go to Line 3 -- Brenda from St. Louis, you're on the air."

Quick translation of Brenda Warner's message: "Don't be trying to divide Kurt from Mike Martz; instead, let me do it for you."

As far as explanations go, it lets Bengals management off the hook pretty easily: Jon Kitna says, "I know that God is in complete control. For whatever reason right now, this is what is best for us."

How about "GO AWAY!" -- isn't that catchy?: At you can help Andres Cantor pick out a basketball-related scream that does justice to his soccer yelps.

Changing the game, one scramble at a time: Michael Vick.

Just for the heck of it: Ed Nealy.

The worst ticket in sports: A Portland Trail Blazers season ticket.

Just imagine: You shell out a few grand, submit yourself to the torture of watching them go through the motions, then you get the added pleasure of waking up the next morning to read about how they were yukking it up in the locker room after Wednesday's loss.

When you're passing out your mid-season NBA awards, reserve a special spot for this one: The Cavaliers allowed 125 points to the Knicks.

Next week, they'll blow the lid off the budding race-walking scandal: The cover story in USA Today's sports section on Wednesday examined the troubling ease with which American bowlers are racking up 300 games.

Somewhere, somehow, for some reason: Kevin Harlan is yelling.

The only person missing was the junior-high drama teacher: A great milestone, sure, but stopping the game for Tim Brown's 1,000th catch and inviting the extended family to the 50-yard line was a little overheated.

Logic tells you one thing, reality another: The Lakers aren't making it happen, and there's a chance they won't.

So, before you go and criticize Larry Walker, Matt Williams or Phil Nevin, answer this question: Why would a team reveal that a player with a no-trade clause -- a clause the team itself agreed upon -- refused a trade?

Even if you pride yourself on not giving a damn about public relations, sometimes you have to swallow hard and be a human being: The Packers' Chad Clifton is said to be three or four weeks away from walking, and Warren Sapp has still made no attempt to contact him.

And finally, pretty soon he'll be down to only Dennis Franz: Allen Iverson says he's concerned with "only a few" police officers.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

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