Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Take on Tiger

Tiger Woods was born a little more than 1 year before I was. After my first year of playing golf at 12 years of age, I still remember reading about him in Golf Digest. The name was funny-sounding but the story was raving about the next big thing in golf that was about to explode on to the game.

And boy has he ever.

Today though, we are talking about Tiger Woods in a much different context. The most popular athlete on the planet has been forced into the uncomfortable position of having to admit that he cheated on his wife, Elin, this morning via a statement on his website. He was forced into the mea culpa because of US Weekly’s interview with an alleged mistress that had proof of the affair. A 24 year old cocktail waitress from Las Vegas has positioned herself to bring down one of the biggest brands in sport.

Now everyone is asking: Is this any our business?

It doesn’t matter because the media in this country has everything in this story that makes for a huge scandal. Rich, powerful, popular man crashes his car at 2:30 A.M outside his house and is unconscious for some reason after a 30 mph collision with a tree (drugs? and a car crash). 911 is called and the police show up to investigate (record of the call made public). Rumors of a sexual affair with a beauty (sex, beautiful people and lying) that became tabloid news a few days before seems to be the trigger for a fight between the powerful man and his wife and the man has cuts on his face when cops arrive (domestic violence?). The police want to talk to the powerful man and his wife but he refuses and instead lawyers up (hiding something). Then a different sexy female comes forward with sexts and voicemails (evidence and proof) claiming to be from the powerful man. Man is caught red handed and vaguely admits that he did cheat on his wife via a message on his website (vague admission).

To the rich and powerful man, he thinks that means the story is over.


In fact, the story has now just begun.

Tiger Woods has done everything right in the public eye since becoming the golf phenom picked to pass Jack Nicklaus as the greatest golfer in history. His father Earl, who passed away a few years back, once said that “Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity”. That’s the divinity that the Woods family expected from their son. He was the chosen one.

The money, the endorsements, the winning, the gushing of affection from the general public, all of it has fed an alter-ego that was carefully hidden away until a golf shot went astray. Then the language would come out. The angry glares towards fans would come out. The nasty, human-side of Tiger would be released and people would be shocked to see the calm, cool customer they loved, all of a sudden becoming a fire-breathing dragon of sorts. We all knew there was a different person inside of that winning smile but we just didn’t know what kind of person.

We know now: A human being.

That is why Tiger Woods has made such a major mistake this morning with the admission of his “transgressions” via a vague, contrived admission on his website. When Mark Mcgwire refused to talk about the past in front of Congress, everyone knew he was done as a public figure. Nobody could defend him from his accusers any longer but people still wanted to know about his past. What did he take? When did he start taking steroids etc? The media slowly began ripping him down. Politicians wanted his name off of highways in St. Louis and the voters won’t elect him into the Hall of Fame. More damage was done over time instead of just admitting it and watching the story die.

While Tiger didn’t do anything against the rules of golf, his public image awaits the same fate as Mcgwire’s because for some reason, Woods thinks he can control this story. He can’t. Woods is not operating from a position of power. The media doesn’t need him to sell this story.

At 32, I could have gotten married a few different times in my life. However, I knew I wasn’t ready for the commitment because my career was more important than starting a family. We now know that Tiger wasn’t ready for the commitment either but his statement about his “principles” made me choke when I read it. Tiger is now claiming that his “principles” of privacy are more important that his marriage vows and he is asking everyone to leave him alone because he is Tiger.

That takes some big balls to try to pull off and a really stupid PR firm for allowing him to put that out there.

You can’t call upon your principles when you are sleeping with another woman for over two years behind the back of your wife. You can’t claim to have principles when you admit to doing “something” but not admit to what you did. I’m not a saint and would never admit to being the greatest person in the world to be involved with romantically but in my years of dating, I have never cheated on anyone. I’m not saying I’m better than anyone who has cheated but it angers me to read about someone’s selective use of morals.

A “transgression” to me is a one-night stand. So far, it’s a two and half year relationship with one woman. How many others are out there? I’ve never been married but Tiger shouldn’t be married either.

Tiger can’t control or spin this. All he can do is tell the truth to throw water on the fire and for some stupid reason, he won’t.

This is the same situation that A-Rod put himself in by doing that stupid fluff interview with Peter Gammons on ESPN a few years ago. He lied about what he did and then had to come clean at a full blown press conference after the media kept digging around the story. When you leave out details, the media will fill them in.

I know I’ve used two baseball steroid stories while talking about a golf sex scandal but this is what it means to be a million dollar athlete these days. What you do off the field is as much news as on the field. I know Tiger never used performance-enhancing drugs but A-Rod’s sex life as been as much tabloid fodder as was the “Boli” story. It’s the life of the athlete that people want to know about. It’s the reason behind why Tiger crashed his car is what everyone is after.

If Woods admits to exactly what he did, then it all goes away. Go on Oprah if you have to but make it disappear on your own terms. Control the story with the truth: see David Letterman!

Cheating in this country is not that big of a deal unfortunately and we are a forgiving nation once we have all the information that’s out there. Then it’s not juicy anymore. Right now, there is a race to find out how many women and how many times Tiger cheated and the line is getting longer by the hour.

If nothing less, he should do it for his family so they aren’t being hounded at the grocery story by TMZ and the National Enquirer. Those are the principles I want to see out of Tiger now. Protect the people you have hurt already from the paparazzi that will continue to hound you until the story is dead.

Tiger cheated on his wife. This is not the story. Tiger’s image is. Sponsors are staying put now but will they after Us Weekly, People, Star, SportsbyBrooks, and others run a laundry list of his sexual exploits over the years with quotes, stories, pictures, voicemails and text messages from him?

We know now that Tiger is human but I want to know: does he have courage? Can he stand up and face the music or is he much more like every other husband who has cheated?

Lie until you are caught and then, lie some more.

Be a real man Tiger. Stand up, admit what you did completely, and then let’s all move on. Save the image that I and others have of you as a strong willed, determined, imperfect human but a principled man who knows when he is wrong and will do the hard thing – the correct thing when the time comes.

Until you do that - get the door, TMZ is knocking.