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Tiger, Tiger, Not Too Bright

March 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I wanted to write a little about Tiger Woods, the situation he is now in, and how he is handling it.

First, Tiger is important to the world of golf.

While baseball, football, and basketball games take place between 2 and 5 hours, a golf tournament is a game that takes place over four days, with each individual competing for at least 20 hours.  The result of this is that most of the competitors, even the great ones, can be eliminated early in the competition.  So on most occasions the fan is left only with the suspense of what could happen among players that he was not originally rooting for.

Tiger has changed all of this.

Tiger has made golf a watchable sport.  There have been many, many golfers who are extremely talented but who have never had the impact that Tiger has had.  And the reason for this is not just that Tiger is the most talented golfer who ever existed, although that helps.  It is now watchable for two reasons.  Tiger Woods has proved that he can come back in heroic fashion and Tiger Woods never gives up.  And because of this, the golf fan will always tune in as long as Tiger is in contention.  This is so obvious that “Tiger Is In Contention” has actually become a turn of phrase during golf telecasts.

And he is black.  And he is great.  These things speak for themselves. No matter where the tournament is played Tiger is the home team, which is something golf has never had.

Second, Tiger has put himself in an awful situation.

Tiger Woods is not just a hero of golf.  Tiger is a symbol for anti-bigotry.  And he is more than that again. Tiger was a role model for family and normal life in the face of fame.  There are many people who say that Tiger is being judged by a double standard that is unfair given the behavior of most famous people.

This isn’t so.  However great Tiger is, and that would have gotten him a lot, he made most of his money off of the reputation that he built. Because if it were not for the fact that Tiger held himself out as a family man, Earl Woods would have been seen as being no better than Joe Jackson, Stefano Capriati, or any parent who exploits his child’s youth for his own wealth and personal satisfaction.

And the discovery of Tiger’s marital indiscretions puts that all in jeopardy.

Third, Tiger is handling this wrong.

For over 13 years Tiger made it clear that he was an intensely private person.  Tiger keeps his children out of the public eye.  Tiger does not speak about personal matters in public.  The name of his yacht is PRIVACY.  Despite all of these avoidances, his fans have stuck with him.

On February 19, Tiger Woods apologized to his wife and to the public in a press conference.  I do not believe that I am putting it too strongly when I say that this was the stupidest thing he could have done.

Let me be clear: Tiger has slept with at least a dozen women of questionable morality.  Tiger did that out of wedlock.  There is no saving Tiger Woods’ family reputation.  And to think that a no-questions press conference would save it was, at best, foolhardy.

This press conference accomplished at least two negative things: it contradicted everything that Tiger has ever said about his own privacy and it invited the Press to find inconsistencies in what he actually DID say.

I hope that I do not sound insensitive when I say this:

The first time that the public should have seen Tiger Woods is on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8.  And he should not have taken any interviews afterward.  Even if he lost, Tiger would have protected the word of his professed privacy and given the press nothing to report.

And if he won . . . my God if he won.  It would be the kind of thing that they write movies about.

– Jim

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