Documentary focuses on Tiger
By Joe Reedy
The Associated Press
A look at Tiger Woods through the prisms of race and identity will be the subject of an of an ESPN documentary debuting later this month.
“Tiger Woods: America’s Son” will premiere on Nov. 29.
The one-hour documentary explores the significance of Woods becoming the first Black golfer to win a major championship at the Masters in 1997 and how it changed perceptions of him across racial and ethnic lines.
The documentary is the latest project from ESPN’s The Undefeated, which explores the intersection of sports, race and culture. TheUndefeated.com launched in May 2016 to provide reporting and analysis centered on Black athletes as well as issues outside sports.
Director and producer Lauren Stowell said the original idea of the Woods documentary was to examine how his Masters victory impacted generations of past Black golfers before it morphed into a larger examination of Woods’ own history with racial identity.
Stowell, a three-time Sports Emmy Award winner, also comes from a multiracial family. She said she could relate to Woods, whose father was Black and whose mother is Asian, trying to honor all sides of his family’s heritage.
“I think it’s an important time right now for this to air because I think it makes us kind of question what is it that makes us uniquely American,” Stowell said.
Woods’ views about his racial identity have always been complex. He said during an interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” after his Masters victory that he checked both African-American and Asian on a form at school to describe his background.
He also said on the show he described himself as “Cablinasian” — a mix of Caucasian, Black, Indian and Asian.
Those comments drew backlash from Black golfers who came before Woods who thought he was trying to distance himself from the Black community.
“It’s not an argumentative film,” Kevin Merida, The Undefeated’s senior vice president and editor, said. “He does have a relationship to his race, but it may not be the same kind of relationship that some people want.”
Stowell and ESPN made attempts to interview Woods for the documentary but were not successful. It does include interviews of Woods and his parents from earlier in his career as well as longtime Woods friend Mark O’Meara, former coach Butch Harmon and Lee Elder, who was the first Black player invited to compete in the Masters.