Saturday, June 25, 2022

WHO should celebrate the newly-announced billionaire statuses of LeBron James and Tiger Woods?

June 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( While the 2022 NBA Finals and professional golf events have been making major sports headlines in the last week, two athletes who have been the faces of those over the past decade aren’t actually participating. LeBron James has been watching the entire 2022 NBA postseason as the Los Angeles Lakers underwent a highly disappointing 2021-22 regular season that got nowhere close to the 2022 NBA Finals while the major news in professional golf hasn’t been about Tiger Woods but the notable professional golf names suspended by the PGA Tour for their decisions to compete in the much more financially lucrative but controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series, a rival of the PGA Tour. It is worth mentioning that Woods reportedly turned down a massive deal from LIV Golf that was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits”, according to CEO of LIV Golf Investments Greg Norman. There is no need to think Woods is “hurting” for cash as last week it was reported by Forbes that he and LeBron James were both respectively worth over $1 billion dollars each. Being worth a billion dollars definitely carries an incredible amount of weight and prestige but it is worth the common sports fan being impressed or celebrating?

The background story of LeBron James is pretty incredible and many sports fans are aware of the incredible media attention that he received in high school as arguably the most hyped high school basketball player ever. Part of James’s upbringing was chronicled in the documentary, More Than a Game, but it is worth mentioning that LeBron James was born to a 16-year old single parent Gloria James. He had a very challenging upbringing with the instability of having to move frequently as a child, being absent from school for major chunks of different school years, the passing of Gloria’s grandmother and mother, and living from apartment to apartment in impoverished areas in Akron, Ohio while Gloria struggled to find steady work. With the blessing of his mother, LeBron James eventually moved in with the family of Frank Walker, a local youth football coach who introduced James to basketball when he was nine years old and his focus on sports led to incredible athletic successes many are aware of.


Tiger Woods shared the sports prodigy tag like LeBron James did but at an even younger age and without the financial challenges in his childhood that James faced. However, Woods and his father Earl would be challenging the game of golf, which has long been known as a game for a certain “class” of individuals and that has never been friendly to Black people historically. Tiger Woods’s arrival as a force on the PGA Tour was historically unique for his dominance along with the fact that his father was Black regardless of how Tiger identified himself. Both Tiger Woods and LeBron James were both identified by the mega-sports brand Nike and fulfilled on their promise of talent, magnetism, and their abilities to draw an audience. Both men have largely had a lot of support among Black people for different reasons as James had to live up to the hype placed on him in the NBA, the professional sports league with the highest percentage of Black athletic talent while a lot of Black people rooted for Woods over the years to destroy the PGA Tour’s record books in a white, elitist sport.

In recent years, LeBron James and Tiger Woods have shown themselves to be polar opposites when it comes to speaking out about social or political issues. Both have been the faces of their respective sports but while James navigated an NBA where most of the top talent is Black, Woods competed in a sport where his competitors, sponsors, fans, and environment skewed very white and a certain class economically. Over the past decade, James has been known as much for giving his opinion about social issues as Woods has about not wanting to discuss any topics especially when it comes to race. However, both men now have billionaire status in common which puts them even farther away from the average sports fan that cheers for them. Even if they are men with African lineage in their blood, their ties to the companies they own, the products they promote, and the people they collaborate with are not the same as what the average, working class Black person in this country faces. Black billionaires, like all billionaires regardless of their racial or ethnic background, are capitalists from Oprah Winfrey to Tyler Perry to Michael Jordan and the late Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party once said, “We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist.”

Staff Writer; Mark Hines


One Response to “WHO should celebrate the newly-announced billionaire statuses of LeBron James and Tiger Woods?”
  1. Pelvo White, Jr. says:

    America is pluralistic democracy with a capitalist economic base that believes in an unequal distribution of available goods and services based on merit. Lebron James and Tiger Woods are both Athletes/Entertainers. James,and Woods merit more pay than most Americans because people are entertained when James plays basketball, and when Woods plays golf.

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