For the board of directors of the GWAA, the long string of emails began Wednesday evening, shorty after Team Tiger announced he was holding a “press conference” on Friday, which came with a set of absurd ground rules. You know, like only six members of the media could attend, three had already been selected and the GWAA would pick the other three. Naturally, the golf media was outraged. According to a source close to the situation, one member called for a vote in Thursday morning and someone else in the evening. On both counts, the result was in favor of not attending the sham. So, the golf media made a statement of their own:
The Board of Directors of the Golf Writers Association of America voted overwhelming Thursday not to participate as pool reporters today when Tiger Woods issues his first public statement in nearly three months.
“I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods,” said Vartan Kupelian, president of the 950-member group.
“The position, simply put, is all or none. This is a major story of international scope. To limit the ability of journalists to attend, listen, see and question Woods goes against the grain of everything we believe.”
The GWAA also believes strongly that its presence, without the ability to ask question, gives credibility to an event that isn’t worthy of it.
The vote reflected the sentiment. Nineteen voted for the proposal to protest by boycotting the proceedings. There were four votes against the proposal and three abstentions.
Woods’ camp originally made available three pool reporter positions for today’s statement by Woods, during which he is expected to offer his apologies for what he described on his website as “transgressions.”
After extended negotiations, Woods’ advisors agreed to increase the number of pool reporters to six. The offer was rejected. The pool reporters would have been selected by the GWAA.
Three wire services have been invited to report on the meeting. They are the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News Service.
Well done. What’s the point of going down to Florida when you can’t even ask a question? Okay, so you can get a better feel of the nuances and what-have-you, but it probably won’t be too different than just watching it on TV like the rest of the world.
*Update: Must-read column by SI’s Damon Hack, a GWAA board member who gives the insider’s take on the boycott. Here’s a taste:
For the GWAA — which has voted Woods its player of the year a record ten times — the boycott ended two days of at times tense conversation among board members, including this reporter. On Wednesday night, I wrote in a message to the board that it was a “fiasco” for the Woods camp to choose how many reporters could attend, and that the whole situation was foul, including the Tour’s decision to host him. Still, I didn’t care if Woods read his statement from a teleprompter or scribbled notes on his hand, I wanted to be in that room to hear him. A journalist wants to be where the story is.
By Thursday evening, after further reflection and discussion, I saw the other side of the story, that calling a pseudo-press conference stocked with family, friends and handpicked media outlets wasn’t journalism but a photo op.
I voted for the boycott.
Bravo. Now Damon probably won’t be granted that exclusive one-on-one interview with Tiger anytime soon, but at least his credibility is intact and in my mind, that’s more important.