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T.J. SIMERS

Some athletes take a questionable position

Why not ask Floyd Mayweather about domestic violence? Or Tiger Woods about wanting to join the Navy SEALs?

March 01, 2012|T.J. Simers

The guard at the front door of Grauman's Chinese Theatre won't let me in even though I've been invited there to promote Floyd Mayweather's next fight.

Fight officials are still rehearsing inside how they are going to use the arriving media to push pay-per-view sales, so I thank the guard for doing a good job. And I leave.

By that time I've already been there an hour, and while waiting outside I get to thinking how ridiculous this is.

Here are hundreds of reporters, broadcasters and bloggers waiting with great anticipation to get fight talk from someone who has pleaded no contest to threatening to beat up two of his own children.

No one will dare ask about that, of course, unless I go inside. And I don't think that will go well.

But I am intrigued. How does a boxer go all bravado on everyone after roughing up a woman?

Shouldn't he be sitting down with a reporter, remorseful and explaining why he has a thing for domestic violence? And why he will now be serving a 90-day sentence beginning June 1 as a deal to possibly avoid 34 years in prison?

Shouldn't he be talking about how he has come to grips with such a horrible problem; maybe offering help to anyone struggling with similar demons?

Maybe such an interview goes better one on one in Las Vegas and away from the stage where Mayweather will be expected to show off.

Maybe he doesn't think it is necessary to explain where he went wrong as a line of adoring fans waits outside the theater seemingly not caring.

But why would any woman go watch him fight after prosecutors pointed to three other arrests for domestic violence at his sentencing? I would have asked the question.

Would I have been wrong for doing so?

Was the reporter who asked Tiger Woods a question Wednesday about an excerpt from Hank Haney's book out of line?

Woods was taking questions at a Honda Classic gabfest to promote the tournament.

Haney was Tiger's former golf coach, and in his book he has written that Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL.

How do you attend a news conference with Woods and not ask about something so outlandish?

"I've already talked about everything —- in the book," replies Woods when he's asked by a reporter about it. "Yes, I've already commented on everything, Alex."

Woods is staring at the reporter, and it's a good thing he doesn't have a driver in his hands. I might have said that out loud, and who knows where the video might have gone next.

The reporter in this case, Alex Miceli from GolfWeek, says, "Then I must have missed you answering that question."

"Well, I've already commented on the book; is that in the book?" Woods asks. "Is it in the book?"

Woods' only comment on the book so far has been to say he won't talk about the book.

"I don't know," Miceli says. "I haven't seen the book [which will be released March 27]."

Then a PGA Tour official, assuming the role of Woods' protector, interrupts. "OK, let's move on. Brian?"

That's the cue for some reporter named Brian to ask a harmless golf question, but Brian isn't very quick.

"You're a beauty, you know that?" Woods says while looking at Miceli.

Jeff Shain, writing for the Orlando Sentinel in a story that ran in The Times, leaves that out, although it certainly says something about Woods.

But then I'm guessing every other golf writer in the room nods in agreement with Woods to make sure he knows they are on his side. Privately, every one of them is probably thrilled to finally have something to write about in golf that someone will read.

"That's a fair question, right?" Miceli says. "You guys [Woods' entourage] are suggesting there's something wrong with the excerpts in the book. I'm just trying to find out if that's true or not."

"I don't know," Woods says.

I'm guessing most folks would like to hear about Woods' Navy SEAL plans. I'm guessing they will also blame the reporter for upsetting Woods.

The PGA Tour official, meanwhile, continues to try to save Woods.

"Brian?" he says, and darn if Brian isn't a slowpoke.

"Have a good day," interrupts Woods while looking at Miceli.

As for Brian, there's no video to know what he finally asks, but a good bet is it has something to do with what club Tiger used somewhere on the course.

It's a funny thing when you ask questions for a living. You can be the bad guy because athletes are held in awe, and it's not good to upset them.

And so a lot of reporters do their best to remain harmless. Some will accept any answer, afraid if they go further they will be considered disrespectful or just trying to be a part of the story.

No doubt someone emailed Miceli to suggest such a thing.

It's not a fair exchange. The guy with the microphone has the reputation, the floor and the admirers. Many of those interviewed probably look upon those asking the questions as they would a stenographer.

So how far do you go? I asked Bill the Waiter at Mini Gourmet, who is also an Angels fan, if he'd like to know whether Albert Pujols is a good guy, leaving open the possibility he is not.

Or would he just like to watch him hit?

Bill says he's interested only in how Pujols performs, and so I don't know, is that the prevailing opinion?

Should the media make like shills, and just go with the sales pitch? Golf is good, and oh, please follow the dos and don'ts list before asking Tiger questions.

And how about not unsettling Mayweather as he goes about the business of persuading people to pay for his fight?

Once again my thanks to the guard who wouldn't let me in Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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