Golf star Justin Thomas is the latest sports figure in hot water for using a homophobic slur.
A microphone caught Thomas, 27, uttering an offensive word during a recent golf tournament. Thomas joined the likes of 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver, ex-Bulls star Joakim Noah, and many others by not only using the word, but issuing a lazy, cliché-filled apology following the incident.
Justin Thomas used a homophobic slur at a recent PGA tournament
Justin Thomas would be very, very wise to remember that microphones and cameras are everywhere.
While at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course in Maui, Thomas missed a short par putt on the fourth hole. Like many other golfers, Thomas reacted with frustration after the shot.
Those emotions did not, and should not, excuse what happened next. As he walked over to tap in his bogey, a Golf Channel microphone caught him using a homophobic slur.
Thomas issued a public apology following his comments
By the time that Saturday’s round in Maui ended, Justin Thomas had a message for the audience watching at home.
In an on-air interview, Thomas told the Golf Channel that he was “extremely embarrassed” by the situation. Thomas wanted those watching to know how much he regretted using the offensive slur.
“It’s not who I am. It’s not the kind of person that I am. But unfortunately I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic. Like I said, it’s inexcusable. I’m speechless. It’s bad. There’s no other way to put it. I need to do better. I need to be better. It’s definitely a learning experience. I deeply apologize to anyone and everybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”
Golf Digest reported that the PGA Tour could fine Thomas for his behavior and the slur.
Thomas used the same clichés as other sports figures
The likes of Joakim Noah and Thom Brennaman likely felt a tinge of deja vu if they heard Thomas’s apology.
Recent history has shown that in situations involving any type of offensive slur or language, the person in question backpedals by saying some form of “this is not who I am.”
Thomas used that terminology, as did Brennaman, the longtime MLB and NFL announcer. When a hot mic caught Brennaman using the same slur in an August baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals, his apology read very similar to the one that Thomas just used.
USA Today transcribed Brennaman’s apology, including this portion.
“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been.”
While with the Toronto Blue Jays, outfielder Kevin Pillar called Braves pitcher Jason Motte an offensive slur in 2017. In a tweet on his personal account, Pillar used a very familiar excuse.
“I have apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly, to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night,” Pillar wrote. “This is not who I am and will use this as an opportunity to better myself.”
ESPN transcribed Bulls big man Joakim Noah’s comments after hurling an anti-gay slur at an official in the 2011 NBA playoffs.
“I’m pissed off at myself because that’s not who I am,” Noah told ESPN.
Where does Justin Thomas go from here?
Justin Thomas has already issued a public apology, and he is expected to accept whatever fine he receives.
All of that is important. However, one has to wonder why sports figures so often use the book of clichés and the same language after using offensive slurs.
Thomas joined a long list of players and broadcasters who said that uttering a homophobic slur isn’t who they are. Perhaps the next few months can provide Thomas with some time to reflect on who he is, then, and work on purging words like that from his vocabulary.