Chris Baldwin This Week at Jan. 25, 2005

Call me cynical, but the celebrity athlete tsunami relief craze is not exactly restoring my faith in humanity. While our Publications Director Doug Carey blogs that Vijay Singh's efforts on behalf of the tsunami victims have helped transform his views of the World's No. 1-ranked golfer, I cannot see anything but an athlete giving away some of his free stuff.

Vijay handed over a 2005 Buick Rainer he was given for winning the Buick Open, a set of Cleveland clubs he can get gratis whenever he wishes and tickets to 14 PGA Tour events he receives as freebies in an eBay auction, which ended up raising slightly more than $35,000 for the tsunami relief fund. This isn't exactly digging deep in Vijay Singh's world.

Even if Vijay had actually taken 35 grand out of his own pocket, that would only represent .32 percent of the $10.9 million he took home in PGA Tour prize money alone in 2004. That's .32 percent, about a third of one percent. This is the equivalent of a person who earns $50,000 a year donating $160. Plenty of ordinary people who make that and less have flooded the Red Cross and other organizations with donations on this equivalent level. How come we're not reading about them?

Don't get me wrong. Every gift counts and is worthwhile. It is the need to pretend these athletes are somehow going above and beyond and deserve special recognition that galls me. NBA player Jermaine O'Neal donates $55,000 (.37 percent of his $14.8 million 2004-05 salary) and its gets lauded as an extraordinary gesture?

It'd be better as golfers if we just kept playing our silly game in these distressed countries as Tim McDonald's article on Thailand golf suggests. That means more than Vijay Singh cleaning out his fourth garage.

Maybe, that's just me though. Maybe, you agree with Doug and are heartened by these celebrity public gifts. This is what the blogs and are all about. As always, your comments are welcome on any topic. Have a great week.

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