Many years ago, I had a colleague, a fellow sports writer, who once cussed out a person on our copy desk.
The tongue-lashing came after a mistake was made in a story. The error, of course, made the sports writer look bad. After all, it was his story in print. The copy editor had the luxury of hiding behind a wall of anonymity.
So my friend exploded on the copy editor, issuing a few words that I can't print in a family newspaper. The next day, my friend apologized to the copy editor for the outburst. Then, he stated:
"I don't say stuff like that. I'm a Christian."
I was looking for something to write in this space. It's been a busy Masters Week out here in the press building at Augusta National Golf Club. The focus has been on golf, while everything else has taken a back seat. Fortunately, my children did recognize me late Friday after spending a week with their grandparents.
As of Friday afternoon, I had no idea what I was going to write for this column. Then, Bubba Watson came through late in the day.
I want to like Bubba Watson. He's a talented golfer who hits the ball a mile. He's the Paul Bunyan of golf. Yet for all his talent hitting a golf ball, he does everything he can to destroy his chances of being likeable.
For years, he's had an abrasive personality. Ever seen him on the course berating his caddie for a bad shot that he hit? That doesn't play well. And for years, he hasn't played well with the media.
His relationship with the media isn't the same as the one Donald Trump has. Many liberals in the media have for months tried to torpedo his presidency, and failed. None of the folks in the sports-writing world (also many of them liberal) are trying to take down Bubba. He's doing it to himself.
In case you haven't heard, Bubba played poorly in the Masters Tournament, missed the cut, walked off the course, and then created another controversy.
One of the things I absolutely hate doing is interviewing athletes or coaches after they lose, but it's part of the job. Some athletes and coaches are more sensitive than others, and you don't know what you're going to get. Watson missed the cut by a few shots, signed his scorecard and then was asked to make a few comments. It's what all golfers have to do - talk to the media after the good rounds and after the bad rounds.
Now golfers like Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus had a great relationship with the media and the public. There's a reason they're called "The Big Three." Those guys were/are class acts on and off the course.
Phil Mickelson is one of those golfers who gets it as well. He's likeable and he's a great quote. You see him smiling on the course. You don't see him berating his caddie. Some media members believe Phil is fake. In 2012, I saw him sign autographs for an hour after his round at Doral in Miami. You can't fake that.
After the second round of the Masters, Bubba came off the course and did what he didn't want to do: talk about his play. According to Charleston Post and Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff, Bubba said, "Golf is tough; I don't know if you've ever played it. But writing articles is easy."
Bubba later apologized on Twitter. He said it was a joke. But the damage was already done.
If you go to his Twitter page, you'll see the first thing that describes Bubba: Christian. That made me think about my former colleague. He doesn't say stuff like that. He's a Christian.
Being a Christian doesn't mean you have a license to act like a jerk. Just the opposite. If you're a real Christian, act like it. Don't go around saying you're a Christian and then treat others poorly. Lead by example.
Being a Christian doesn't mean being perfect. We all say and do some dumb things from time to time. But for Bubba, this just continues a pattern.
The problem with Bubba's statement is he feeds into what other idiots think: writing is easy. It's this line of thinking that's made newspapers worse through the years. Many talented, experienced writers across the nation have been laid off in recent years solely because some bean-counters have thought they made too much money. So much for putting out a quality product.
If writing were easy, why do we have so many people on social media who can't figure out the difference between ‘your' (a possessive word) and ‘you're' (a contraction for the words ‘you' and ‘are'). Men and women should have paid attention in English class. If you see someone write the phrase "your welcome," feel free to let them know that's incorrect. Then tell them, "You're welcome."
Yes, golf is hard. I'm sure if I played in the Masters, I could miss the cut just like Bubba. The difference, though, is I would try to act a little nicer to people, try to act a little better to the media.
Being a Christian isn't easy, either. I'm not perfect. You're not, either. But we should all try a little harder.
And yes, writing is hard, too. There's a ton of grammatical rules to remember. For instance, I try not to dangle my participles - at least not in public. I don't always achieve that, either. It happens to the best of us.