Monday, June 23, 2008

Everyman the Pool Cleaner

NBC's lead golf analyst, Johnny Miller, had to apologize June 20 for some stupid comments he made on-air about golfer Rocco Mediate (photo above).

Hard on the heels of Tiger Woods during the United States Open, Miller said Mediate "looks like the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool." Later in the broadcast, when it looked like Mediate might win the round, Miller asked: "Guys with the name of Rocco don’t get on the trophy, do they?"

Miller later apologized in a statement. But only after he was called on his comments by two Italian-American organizations. In his statement, Miller said:

“I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful." He added that his intention was to “convey my affection and admiration for Rocco’s everyman qualities and had absolutely nothing to do with his heritage.”
Right. He conveys his admiration and affection by calling the guy a pool cleaner. Since when is pool cleaning dominated by Italian-Americans anyway? And calling somebody "everyman" is just as bad. It is basically saying Mediate is boring and unexceptional and has no qualities that make him stand out.

Well, one of the biggest qualities that makes him definitely not an "everyman" is that he's Italian-American. How many Italian-Americans are professional golfers competing at the US Open level? Not very many.

At least he didn't make a Godfather joke.


MauiJim said...

Funny these groups bring this up as an attack against Italian-Americans. Nobody in the golfing world thinks of Rocco as an Italian-American....hes just an American.
Johnny Miller would have made the same comment regardless of Rocco's heritage. What if Rocco was German? Would the Italian-American groups have remained silent and the Germans been offended?
Where does it stop? Everybody has some heritage in them other than just American. So any time a person is made fun of its an attack on their heritage?
For them to make this stretch is truly pathetic.

Callmarcus said...

I hope the previous commentator was joking. Obviously a swarthy, olive-skinned man name ROCCO MEDIATE is thought of as Italian-American. What world do you live in? I guess it's not the same world in which I live, where people constantly bring up my Italian heritage at inappropriate times and where my grandfather wasn't allowed into golf clubs because he had a vowel at the end of his name. That's the biggest point, in fact. Even if it's not as obvious now, Italian Americans are still second-class, blue-collar mooks to many Americans, especially within the WASPy culture of golf. That's why your point about a "German American" golfer is so ridiculous: No. 1. Most obvious of all, a German American would not be named an Italian name like "Rocco," which seems to bring up images of a blue-collar, uneducated servant to the blue-eyed, blond-haired Miller...hmm, I wonder why an Italian name would evoke such an image? No. 2 German Americans are not an ethnic "other" in mainstream Northern European, WASPy American society. They are the dominant ethnic group in America. They fit right in with a WASPy sport like golf, and they have never been subjugated to nearly the same level of discrimination and racism as Italians, not even close.