Second Thought: Wednesday, June 5, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
They Shouldn’t Have Made the Cut

And now, in the pressroom, the Goober World Series.

By JENNIFER BRIGGS

She was in town a week. The hoopla had preceded her by months.

When Annika Sorenstam showed up at the Bank of America Colonial Golf Tournament and became the first woman to compete in a PGA event in almost 60 years, a record number of folks (200,000) bought tickets to watch the Girl play the Guys. More than 600 news media types also hit town.

Unfortunately, holding news media credentials or being able to afford a ticket to the Colonial does not guarantee that a person has a brain, only access to a margarita cart. And judging by their behavior last week, many members of the press made more frequent use of the latter than the former. The pressroom was as male dominated as the line to the port-a-potties. It also became apparent that a few media members were not golf writers, or even, perhaps, vague followers of current events.

If you didn’t get to go, you have no idea what actually descended upon Fort Worth. They massacred Annika’s name in press conferences, calling her “Monica’’ and “Anna,’’ or pronouncing her name Ann-ika instead of Ahn-ika. She’s from Sweden, not Midlothian, fer God’s sake. Others even mistook ponytailed male golfer Pat Bates for Annika.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Gather 623 reporters from around the world in one place, and a gallon or two of stupid is gonna leak out somewhere. Never mind the radio guy who was wandering around the course in a suit and tie on a day that felt like a hot shower in a tool shed. He was from a major network, but I’d hate to embarrass them by saying which one.

When Annika left the course for the last time, overcome by all the emotions of the week, she was wiping tears. Two guys from papers were watching the action from the big tv in the pressroom.

“Hup, yeah, she’s cryin’.’’

“Yep, oh yeah, she’s cryin’.’’ Like they were confirming their bet that it would be the 18th hole when the little lady finally broke down.

Then picture her, a few minutes later, sitting before a largely male audience, still wiping her eyes and nose and not being able to speak. But it was the guys, not Annika, who were pathetic — all those men having to sit in a room and watch a woman cry. Most men would rather walk on their lips through the glue guns at a north Dallas Hobby Lobby than handle a woman’s tears.

I was there freelancing for the Rocky Mountain News of Colorado. (That worked fine except for when the editors cut from my story a reference to 53 Texas Democrats. Maybe they don’t get the national news up there.) I got the assignment in late April, but thought for a while that they weren’t going to give me a media pass. (Better to let in the talking dawgs — as we print reporters refer to our broadcast brethren — who don’t know their butt from a hole in a green.) They eventually gave me a pass, but with no parking thingy and no space in the pressroom. I did some writing in the handicapped stall of the women’s room, forcing all the drunken rich women in designer sandals to use the remaining stall. Based only on the feet I saw and the mouths I heard, I could confirm both afflictions.

After a while I abandoned the commode for a couch in the entryway where a police officer was checking credentials. I just wanted a non-porcelain place to go over my notes away from the crowd. I’m sitting there minding my own business when some guy walks up with a margarita in his hand and a sunburn on his neck, staggers, looks at me and says, “Fuckin’ A. You can quote me on that.’’

When Annika, or Monica, depending on which fully credentialed person you talked to, had finished her final round with a 74 and walked into the pressroom, some media people clapped. You probably already know this, but media people do not clap, not even if you’re from the Weatherford Democrat and the Lady ’Roos are playing. Strange-dog wanna-be-media people might clap. They are the reason for the warnings posted in some media guides that say, “No cheering in the press box.’’

The clapping wasn’t the height of the gooberdom, though. Some of these people got on the goober ship and paddled across goober lake and disappeared over the goober spillway. Like the guy at the press conference who used up precious time and opportunity to announce that he had a statement, not a question. He then proceeded to tell Annika he had six sisters and that he knew the girls cried when they lost and cried when they won, and that he was impressed with her performance. Several veteran reporters winced — the embarrassment in the room was enough to give you creepy goosebumps, like when Daddy shows up drunk for the baptism.

In keeping with PGA protocol, Annika wore pants. Two days in a row, she wore white pants — big news, apparently, to somebody somewhere. With hundreds of reporters and as many editors back on sports desks waiting for copy, some guy wasted valuable press conference time by asking, “Are those the same pants you had on yesterday?’’

Bet they didn’t ask Pat Bates if he had on the same pants. Geez, why didn’t they just ask her if she’d changed her panties, or if it was her time of the month?

If only they required a qualifying round for reporters.

Jennifer Briggs is a Fort Worth freelance journalist and author.


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