Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fore!

How long has the Tiger Woods story dominated the headlines now? It seems at least a month, though I suspect it's not quite that long. Poor Mr. Woods had the misfortune of having his bad news break during a slow news period. Relatively speaking, announcement of the surge in Afghanistan was but a mere eye blink compared to the time that has been spent discussing the affairs of Tiger Woods.

It's one thing for a salacious story like this to dominate the People Magazine and National Inquirer-type publications or Entertainment Tonight tabloid type TV news stories, but to be the lead story in major network news night after night after night, to dominate talk shows day after day. I just want to scream "SHUT UP ALL OF YOU!"

I truly hate slimy gossip mongering, especially when it's being done by respected newscasters and I hate even more comedians making hay on the misfortune of someone else. Dave Letterman has no business making light of Tiger Woods' escapades.

I am not a follower of golf, though Mr. Woods has been my mother's favorite for years, the only golfer who would have her setting aside time on a weekend to sit down and to watch a game of golf.

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So I am not in any way demoralized or crushed at learning that one of the most famous athletes in the world today is not exactly a saint. Heck, after all these years I almost expect it.

But our love of it...our wallowing in it...our hand wringing and wailing and speculating about what he might be thinking makes me sick. The fact that there were paparazzi waiting outside his home to follow the ambulance taking his mother-in-law to the hospital, and reporters speculating as to who that woman actually was just makes me ill. The fact that "the best Tiger jokes on late night TV" becomes the #1 story on Keith Olberman is sickening.

The only legitimate Woods-related story that I have seen since this whole thing started was on Rachel Maddow's show, which examined the economic impact of the scandal from attention to golf competitions, advertising that was built around Woods and his squeaky clean image, etc.

What does a public figure owe his or her public? He owes them the best he can do in his job and little else. The public is not owed a 24 hour a day behind the scenes look into his private life.

Mark Morefield of the San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful column about this...

Tiger has transcended. He is right now entering another glorious, rarefied realm, a unique stratum of American iconography, that of the fallen hero, the broken god, the disgraced saint soon be abhorred and mocked by millions, only to be -- and you may take my word for this right now -- loved and adored again in about, oh, I'd say two years and change. Maybe less. Just you watch.

...as does Jon Carroll (with the wonderful headline of "Tiger, Tiger, Not So Bright")

Tiger Woods is an intense and charismatic professional golfer. He owes it to us to play his best; he owes it to us to play fairly and not get involved with gamblers. Beyond that, he owes us nothing. He's a figure of fun now, a guy lying half-conscious beside his car at 3 a.m., humiliated, a mere mortal in a world of mere mortals. But he was always a mortal; everything else was hype. You believed the hype; more fool you. All the actors and athletes and politicians who "disappointed" you; the disappointment was because of your expectations, and your expectations were foolish.

Imagine that you had reporters and photographers following you into your place of work, snapping pictures in your face wherever you go, staking out the front of your house, going through your trash to find something newsworthy, etc. Is it any wonder that our heroes, whether show business or sports or whatever all seem to turn out to have feet of clay.

A month or so ago, people would have held Mr. Woods up and said 'Oh, but not Tiger!" and now...still feel secure about the idols in your life?

This is a private issue that has nothing to do with golf. It is a matter between Woods, his family (and I guess the corporations that hire him to be their spokesperson). We mere mortals have no business lusting after every bit of dirt that can be dug up....much less laughing about his public humiliation. He doesn't owe us anything. We are not deserving of one scintilla of information about Tiger Woods or any other public figure other than issues which are connected with their job, whether playing a game of golf, singing a concert, or making a movie.