Friday, December 4
You might be surprised by the fact that we talk about more than just sports at the bar. Shocking! Sometimes folks will talk to the old barkeep (emphasis on old!) about their lives and the lives of others. People have a fascination with other people, especially famous people. So when a famous person is part of something very salacious, look out! If its a famous athlete, in this country, its the 1 topic.
So, obviously, Ive been part of many discussions about Tiger Woods, too many. Ill start by saying that I can understand his call for privacy in what is a family matter. But to do that you need to be a private citizen and he is far from that, from his own, calculated doing. When you are the pre-eminent corporate pitchman of your time, or should I say, of ALL time, (100 Mill a year, according to the NY Times) fly all over the world to collect mega appearance fees to play golf, or accept big time cash to affix your name on golf properties around the globe, you are not going to get ordinary scrutiny. Sorry, cant have your beer and drink it too. (Sorry. Old bartenders, theres that word again, saying.) I understand that the media that we live in today borders on over-the-top sensationalism (Bartenders writing OpEd blogs?!) and spends way too much time on topics which should not merit our attention, but I know why: MONEY! People watch, a LOT of people. They want to know and big-time news entities know that big-time gossip means big-time ratings. Beautiful women, money, adultery, wayward drives and the 1 athlete on the planet? Its a ratings bonanza! Tiger should know this better than most. He plays this course everyday. He knows what sells. That is why hes built the image he has. Hes named his yacht Privacy. But have you seen the size of it? You dont get one that big by being a bartender! You get it because youre in the public eye and people cant get enough of you. Isnt that what you tell your corporate benefactors when you negotiate your 100 million a year? Well, theres a price. The only place that you can do anything that we dont know about is on that yacht, I mean inside, paparazzi right?
For someone who is so tedious and meticulous, on and off the course, this is an amazing blunder, pardon the pun, a car wreck. I wont rail on the infidelity, in that respect hes right, its a family matter, but again hes the one that has put his family in the public spotlight. Part of the allure is seeing the beautiful family greeting him on 18 after a win, isnt it? Thats not choreographed? Give me a break. Its part of the BRAND. The heroic Sunday round at the U.S. Open that he shot two years ago? Wasnt part of the hoopla that it was Fathers day? If he wants to leave his family, he can. Its been done a few times before. But always remember, for every action there is always an equal and opposite one. We live in the bed we make. (Puns for everyone!!) But, the Cocktail Waitress Across America Tour? Hard to shoot par there. I think what people are riled up about is that they expect more. Hes acting like hes in the NBA!
Now here is where he really messed up. The original story that was put out to the press after the accident on Friday morning was hard to believe. Coming from Mr. Perfect this raised eyebrows, and this is among clear thinking fans, I could only imagine the reaction in media sleaze outfits: Christmas? Not what you would expect from a supposed dream team of advisors. Damage control 101 is to stay ahead of the story. When you dont tell the truth, or limit the amount, someone will surely fill in the blanks. That set off the firestorm.
Then, the statement on his website? Honestly? Was that an apology or a corporate response to please his handlers that he showed proper remorse? Apologize for nothing specific and hope for the best? Then pout about the attention? Did he mention virtue, with a straight face? Stick to principles? When its convenient and suits his purpose, of course. Maybe he should have thought about virtue and principles on one of his Vegas jaunts or when leaving phone messages. I think he should have told the lawyers to hold off on the statement, and personally face the fire. The end will not begin until he does this. Sorry thats the way it is, and theres unfortunately a long line of examples he can learn from.
Why do people react with such venom? Its the same as with Roger Clemens. We know you did it, just admit it. Andy Pettite did and he basically got a free pass afterwards, maybe more do to the comparison of Clemens being obstinate, but he got one just the same. Hows it gone for Clemens? The fact that he doesnt get this will only keep it alive. Because Clemens was already done and didnt have to face fans and the press everyday, it was easier on him, but if he thinks hell get into the Hall, hes mistaken. You can run but you cant hide. The court of public opinion has so decided. So for Tiger, get in front of the story and try to become yesterdays news.
Hell be back on the course, and I like many golf fans will watch, but it will be different now. It will take time to heal the wounds and move on. Like David Letterman, it will be hard to take him serious for a while. But as always, much to my chagrin, those with the gift will find a way to get back to the top in spite of any social miss-steps. That first day back on the course should be interesting.
I find myself wondering what the reaction is from Tigers nemesis, Phil Mickelson. Tiger could never understand the connection between fans and Mickelson, while Tiger was regularly beating him. Its because Phil shows that hes human. He connects in a way that an unfeeling bottom-liner would not understand. We all make mistakes. Just dont pretend that they didnt happen or notice. Ironic also is the private situation that Mickelson is dealing with right now. He and Tiger are polar opposite once again, this time on how they regard their families.
So as we now tune out the phony corporate mantras that Team Tiger has infused our brain with over the years, maybe, if were watching, this Tiger situation might teach us something real. It should be a reminder to all of us that maybe, enough, is enough.