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Like a Tiger Would


I’m sure we’re all aware of the situation involving Tiger Woods by now. His car wreck, admission of “infidelity” and his mother-in-law’s trip to the hospital have beenĀ  front page news – and not just in the tabloids.

But the thing I’ve been wondering throughout all of this is the connection between athletes and those who enjoy watching their endeavors. Surely, we can all relate to the feeling of elation watching our own football team rise to the top of the Pac-10 this year. Similarly, I’ve noticed fans of Tiger have taken the golfer’s rough patch just as badly.

Others have highlighted the incessant media fever pitch (I realize that this blog post is lumped into that category) as going a touch too far – one of our own Commentator alumni posted his Facebook status as ” Well, Tiger Woods is single-handidly trying to ruin his reputation, and now some lunatic has killed four cops while they sat in a coffee shop. It is official: I will colonize the moon and am leaving in my homemade spaceship tomorrow morning. I will send updates of my journey and will send for you all once Moon Base 2009 is complete.”

A month later, that same alumni’s status reads, “Week One Moon Review: The recording studio, softball fields, halfpipe, and practice bunker are nearly complete. Though I’ve run dangerously low on cupcakes and chili dogs, my ample supply of gobstoppers and meatball sandwiches are holding me in good stead. I am enjoying the peace and quiet and am grateful to be away from the non-stop bad news on the TV. Like Tiger, my hiatus will be indefinite.”

Although the strength of Tiger’s personal problems are up to his personal discretion, I have often wondered in situations like these how much the media and perceived public opinion has helped to push stressed public figures in one direction or the other. After his car crash was announced (and before his admission on his website) ESPN and other media outlets were already speculating “if she was trying to beat him with the club or save him.”

Along that same line of thinking, I wonder if the major media outlets already condemned Tiger to taking a leave of absence weeks before he announced it? Indeed, I watched nationally televised conversations not a week after the crash that were about, “Whether or not golf or Tiger will ever return [from the crash].”

To be honest, when Tiger crashed his car I wasn’t really sure I cared. Was she trying to hit him? Was he under the influence? None of these things mattered to me, at least as a fan of golf – by that I mean watching him on the links (it should be said that anything criminal he did is in a separate sphere as far as this thinking goes).

Even after the reports of multiple women having proclaimed to have affairs with Tiger, I still wasn’t sure how that was supposed to affect me as a fan. Let me explain how I view “fandom” as it were: I want my sports stars to be good people when they are currently interacting with me as a fan or as a member of my community.

Ray Lewis allegedly killed a guy, yet there are so many stories of the man’s kindness to his fans, the ones in the seats at his stadium. Would I want Ray Lewis on my favorite football team? Yes. Brian Grant once came out to my hometown for a pre-scheduled autograph session even after he had knee surgery (he had to be carted around on a golf cart because he couldn’t walk). Would I want Brian Grant on my favorite basketball team? Yes.

Rick Mahorn once yelled at me when I was 10 years old because I didn’t ask him for an autograph fast enough (I’d never asked for one before, and I was fucking 10). Would I want Rick Mahorn on my favorite team? No.

So there are people who I wouldn’t want on my pro sports teams. Losers who effect the community in ways that are detrimental to the city as a whole. Dogfighting (Qyntel Woods) comes to mind or battery (Reuben Patterson). Those people are hurting members of the fanbase with their actions – their community.

So let’s say Tiger’s wife did chase him out of the house with a golf club. I suppose that would count as hurting the realm of fandom – of public life. Yet adultery (as it is not a crime… sort of) is something that is private and between the individuals involved, and therefore does not hurt the realm of fandom. Or does it?

Obviously the situation has many complicated twists and turns. I am curious as to the unassuming public’s response, on a the level of fandom alone – and not of moral judgment. If Tiger returns, will you still watch him play golf? Or will your moral objections to his actions be too much to bear?

  1. Dane says:


  2. Stanley Crouch says:

    Why is Dane getting so worked up over the moral failings of a celebrity? I mean, I’ve only been reading this blog for a short time, but I don’t remember anyone getting upset when we find out that the members of Motley Crue banged groupies or whatever.

  3. nike urbanism duk says:

    Interesting story about his “doctor” getting busted today on the front page of the NYT.

  4. Betz says:

    I have a feeling he can make a rebound from this. Dane is right: the issue is a moral one, not really a criminal one. There is no law outlawing infidelity (with a few exceptions to that rule). The only reason this story is sensational is that he is 1) Married; and 2) Famous. Imagine: There’s probably a good deal of students right there on the UO campus who have had up to 13 partners in their time at the UO … why is that not news? Or imagine this scenario: Tiger Woods is an exceptional golfer, who also is a bit of a womanizer on the side. He is not married to Elin … and has this same number of partners. Would this still be newsworthy? Why do we feel that we have to hold our celebrities up to an almost puritanical moral standard? Since the matter is not criminal and merely a moral one (ie, an ‘opinion’ of what is right), people can decide for themselves whether or not to forgive Tiger. Since he is SUCH a talented athlete, I suspect more people will be willing to look past his ‘transgressions’, and just honor the man at being really good at golf.

    On the subject of fanworthiness – and on the collective whole, whether or not you can honor and respect a man’s achievements or professions, even if you detest them on a moral level – I suspect that this is possible. Not all achievements happen in a vacuum, but they do in the sports world. No matter what is going on in an athlete’s personal life – this has no bearing on their accomplishments on the field / in the arena / on the links / in the ring / etc (with the exception of steroid users, as that gives the man a direct advantage in competition. That is why people will NOT forgive A-ROD … EVER … while some people will forgive Tiger Woods.) Yes, Tiger Woods had multiple affairs, and might have ruined his marriage … does any of this matter when he is driving a ball 300+ yards on the fairway? Maybe in his concentration and in his head, but he doesn’t show it.

    Athletes are unique in this respect, as their realm is isolated to a sterile environment (the ring, the field, etc.). Their personal lives do not invade this space. This is different than, say, a politician – their realm of play is also that in which their scandals and affairs take place; because of this co-existence, it is a direct conflict of interest in whether or not one may impact the other. In the case of the corrupt politician, consider: Can we trust a politician to do their job effectively if they had a sex scandal / extorted money / has ties to the mafia / etc?

    Yes, I know I am incoherently ranting … but thats what happens when my office coffee machine breaks down.

  5. Kevin Bruce says:

    Golf without Tiger Woods is like Christmas without a tree. I, for one, think he will be greatly missed.

  6. Dennis says:

    Well, if Britney Spears can make a comeback after shedding her “squeaky clean” image, I don’t see why Tiger can’t!

  7. Danimal says:

    You know, the trouble is, if he’s willing to cheat on his wife, odds are he’s willing to cheat on his scorecard? This honestly calls into question every tournament he’s been in.

    How do we know he actually won?

    What if he’s actually a terrible golfer?

  8. nike urbanism duk says:

    Obama, Blount and Woods all need to sit down for a beer……and a blunt. Woods does not need to be the next OJ. Dr. Phil should mediate here. What will this mean for the Tiger Woods golf course near SportCity Dushbai ? Can it be converted to a futuristic brothel/ interactive theme park ?

  9. Kevin Bruce says:

    Wow, it’s unbelievable how far this scandal has gone, from a seemingly innocuous car accident to the world’s best-paid sportsman giving up what he does best

  10. C.T. Behemoth says:

    I will definitely watch him. His morals, or lack thereof, have nothing to do with being a good golf player.

    Realistically, he shouldn’t step away from golf. That’s a PR move and won’t be playing a role in saving his marriage. At this point, golf is the most consistent thing in his life.

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