Dec 4, 2009

Catch a Tiger

It's been almost a week since the story of Tiger Woods' car crash broke, and the fallout continues to be spectacular. Initial claims of a marital spat have spiralled into tales of affairs, liaisons, and today, reported hush money.

If you read the comments sections on news articles or blogs about the story, you'll often see these sorts of reactions:

"Who cares?"
"Leave him alone!"
"Give the man some privacy."
"His personal life is not news!."

Sorry, Tiger Woods. Sorry, fans of Tiger Woods. But right now, his personal life is most definitely news.

Tiger Woods is undoubtedly an incredible talent. Possibly the most gifted athlete in the world, certainly one of the most successful of all time and definitely the richest currently getting around.

Part of his appeal has been his smooth public image: from fresh-faced prodigy, to world-conquering demi-god. He's cultivated a media-friendly brand to ensure lucrative sponsorship deals and appearance fees. He garnered a lot of public respect and sympathy in the aftermath of his father's death - Earl Woods was his mentor, and Tiger's deep grief and absence from the golfing circuit after he died reinforced his image as a humble family man.

And it's not to say that none of that is true.

But revelations of alleged extra-marital affairs and the damning release of a voicemail message he left on a woman's phone go against that public image. And news, by definition, is stuff that is new. Tiger winning a championship, earning another million dollars, giving every child in the Niger Delta a Tag Haeur watch? That's not news. That's what we expect.

Tiger allegedly shacking up with a series of cocktail waitresses, then fleeing his Florida home after his wife allegedly came after him with a nine-iron? Now THAT'S news. Much of it is speculatary news of course, but look at the Liberal Party antics over the past week. Speculation often pays off.

Tiger's subsequent online admission of "personal sins" and "transgressions" was a deliberate language choice by the demi-god; casting himself into the role of sinner needing saving. This subtle "mea culpa" position from someone previously so lofty encourages the response of "Leave the man alone! We all make mistakes!". The transgressor becomes the martyr - broken on the catherine wheel of unscrupulous media and 24-hour rolling news coverage.

I don't believe at this stage this turmoil is going to cause Tiger long-term harm. He's got 10-plus years of enduring popularity to fall back on, it's a "first offence" (for want of a better phrase), and the world is somewhat more tolerant of its sports stars - hell, anybody who shows incredible talent seems to be able to get away with a lot more than Joe Average. Tiger's sponsors have so far stated they are standing behind him.

Not to mention - and this is my personal view - that public opinion is still weighted in favour of men when it comes to infidelity. An unfaithful woman is still considered a slightly-more-heinous crime, as there remains among many an expectation that women hold the responsibility for the restraint or embrace of sexual activity. In fact, I would not be surprised to hear some people voice the opinion that they're surprised, given Tiger's fame and fortune, that he hasn't played the field (course?) more.

There will also come recrimination against the women who have made these claims against Tiger - if there's one thing worse than infidelity, it's confessing that infidelity. It wouldn't have been an issue, and Tiger wouldn't have had to suffer, if those ladies did the honourable thing and remained quiet. In Rachel Uchitel's case, she may keep quiet thanks to a payout from Woods; no doubt she will be criticised for that too.

So while I don't judge Tiger Woods for having an affair or two, and I respect he has a right to a certain amount of privacy, I don't believe he should escape public scrutiny entirely. He's a superstar who projected the image of a having a "boring home life", a story which now appears to have cracks in it. It wasn't the women who came forward first; it was a 2:30am car crash at Tiger's own home. His actions will affect the lives of a number of people; most obviously his family and the women he's allegedly been involved with.

He may be a demi-god, but even angels have been known to fall. And it's those flaws - not perfection - that make a story, whether fans like it or not.


  1. Wonder where his caddy was...Bedes

  2. He earns because he rates, and he rates not just because he's handy at placing white balls in small holes. He's a celebrity. He gets paid like a celebrity, and in return, he gets covered like a celebrity. Which means when all of the above goes on, he gets reported on, and rightly so. Don't like it? Hand back the big endorsements, stop appearing in ads, and just live off your prize money.

  3. Nice article, and I agree with Dr Yobbo's comment - you've got to accept both the pros (obscene amounts of money) and cons (no privacy).

  4. You bring up an interesting point... well, many - but just one I want to think about further.

    Notwithstanding Tiger's understandable plea for privacy (or plea for keeping what little dignity he has left to sell intact, that is), I'm curious as to why the general public is clamours hard to parrot that line and bitch about the mee-ja in cases like these? "Leave him alone" "vultures" "whores"... they're all used to label the journos themselves as the evil do-ers here.

    I'm falbbergasted that even a little education doesn't allow those people to see the irony in their actions - pleading for their icon's privacy, while at the same time clamouring to buy every story there is out there on the matter.

  5. Men having affairs is not new/s. Golfers having affairs is not new/s. Perhaps there is a little merit in the comment regarding celebrity, but the sheer volume of coverage is just ridiculous. Y'know, there are some really important things happening, both locally & internationally, that warrant the title of news that just doesn't get coverage.

  6. Part of the coverage (in the US at least) is a bit of payback. Tiger does have a huge profile, but he isn't (wasn't) particularly open with the sports media over there. He sticks to bland statements and deliberatly dosen't give reports much to write about.
    Now those reporting on him can go to town.
    Oh, and public opion might be turning against him now. Ten women? Sheesh.

  7. Hi all - thanks for your comments!

    I have even less sympathy for Tiger now than I did on Friday - the tally is now around nine women!!!

    Let's just all wait a moment and construct our own jokes about "playing through nine holes"...

    ....done it? Good.

    If nothing else, this extraordinary unfolding of events shows just how well-oiled and tight Tiger's management has been all these years.

    Much like the nightclub waitresses he's been getting freaky with.


  8. Hang on, wait, apparently now it's 10.

    The tenth is reportedly a porn star.

    The competition for Tiger Woods-themed pornos starts here:

    "Got Wood?"

    "Caddy This"


    "Swinging at the Balls"

  9. But...but...he SAID he LOVED me.


  10. I get paid for this, right?


  11. I think it is fast becoming easier to ask who HASN'T been sleeping with Tiger Woods.

    Next Year's smash movie hit "Tiger Woods and cub, and cub, and cub, and cub, and cub and..."

  12. I reckon I could email News Limited and tell them that Girl Clumsy had her wicked way with Tiger's wood and they'd print it - and that's my problem with the whole story. All you seemingly need to do is to put one's hand up and you become number xx.

    It's getting boring now that all these chicks are saying "me too".

  13. I am feeling left out... He HASN"T slept with me.....