Thorpe Just Throwing Fuel on the Fire


Jim Thorpe, one of two black players on the Champions Tour, called the actions of a magazine editor 'absolutely stupid' for displaying a noose on the cover of Golfweek.
The illustration was in response to a GOLF CHANNEL anchor's use of the word 'lynch' in commentary on Tiger Woods. The editor was fired Friday.
'That was absolutely stupid. That was just throwing fuel on the fire,' Thorpe said. 'Why would you do that? He knew better.'
The 58-year-old Thorpe has won three times on the PGA TOUR and 13 times on the Champions Tour. He was tied for second Friday after the first round of the 50-and-over tour's season-opening MasterCard Championship.
Dave Seanor, Golfweek's vice president and editor who took responsibility for the noose cover on the Jan. 19 issue, was replaced by Jeff Babineau, 10 days after GOLF CHANNEL anchor Kelly Tilghman was suspended for two weeks for the comment.
'We know there was no racist intent,' Thorpe said, referring to Tilghman. 'It was just a bad choice of words. But the guy from Golfweek? Let him get barbecued. That's just a major mistake on his part.'
Turnstile Publishing Co. president William J. Kupper Jr. apologized for the cover that he said drew a negative response from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country.
'We were trying to convey the controversial issue with a strong and provocative graphic image,' he said. 'It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic.'
Turnstile is the parent company of Golfweek, which has a circulation of about 160,000. The magazine devoted four pages of news and commentary on the topic, including a column on the back page supporting Tilghman and asking that the dispute be kept in context.
The episode began Jan. 4 during the second round of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship when Tilghman and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing possible challengers to Woods.
Faldo suggested that 'to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up (on him) for a while.'
'Lynch him in a back alley,' Tilghman said, laughing.
GOLF CHANNEL said four days later it regretted the comment and Tilghman had apologized to Woods. But when the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded on CNN that she be fired, GOLF CHANNEL suspended Tilghman for two weeks.
Thorpe said Tilghman does not to be deserved to be fired but understands the strong reaction to her comment.
'I do understand the point from a minority standpoint or an African-American standpoint that things like that has to be approached because we need to leave the past in the past,' he said.
Woods, who will make his 2008 PGA TOUR debut at the Buick Invitational, has not spoken publicly on the GOLF CHANNEL matter. His agent said through GOLF CHANNEL last week that Woods and Tilghman are friends, and 'we know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments.'
Thorpe called golf a 'gentleman's game' and said he's never felt discriminated against in the sport.
'If you could play golf, you were going to get paid,' he said. 'It made no difference what color you were, what religion you are. If you can go out there and play, they're going to write you a check and pay you. That's the bottom line.'
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