Golfer Elkington backtracks on Michael Sam 'handbag throw' remark

Feb. 26, 2014 at 4:15 PM
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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The PGA said it had no comment on tweets in which golfer Steve Elkington made comments about a gay football player that many Twitter followers found offensive.

Elkington posted tweets Tuesday criticizing ESPN for its coverage of University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who announced this month he is gay.

Writing about Sam's appearance at an NFL combine prior to the upcoming draft, Elkington posted on Twitter Tuesday: "ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the handbag throw at NFL combine. ... No one else expected to throw today"

Elkington, 51, a native of Australia, also said in a Tweet that ESPN'S coverage of "Michael Sam as a gay athlete is embarrassing ....."

ESPN said many of Elkington's 60,000 Twitter followers complained about the posts.

Elkington took down both tweets and attempted to clarify his comment.

"I'm for Sam," he said. "I'm against ESPN telling me he's gay."

In a subsequent tweet, he said: "It goes back to 'a ball hit an oriental spectator.' There's no oriental spectator, there (are) just spectators. Like M. Sam, he's just an athlete."

The Los Angeles Times pointed out Wednesday, use of the word "oriental" is problematic, in that it is no longer considered an appropriate term to describe people of Asian descent.

"Under our regulations, conduct unbecoming a professional includes public commentary that is clearly inappropriate or offensive," the PGA Tour said in a statement, ESPN reported. "With respect to this matter, and consistent with our longstanding policy, we do not comment on player disciplinary matters."

Elkington was reprimanded by the European Tour last year for using a racial slur referring to Pakistanis while he was playing in the British Senior Open, ESPN said.

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