Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
I have a question for the 24/7 cable news/blogosphere outlets, and I’d like to ask it in the most delicate way possible: What the fuck is up with this unrelenting campaign against Tiger Woods? Golf – like football and other pro sports – bores me senseless. But to paraphrase a quip about wall to wall coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal in the ‘90s: I’m not following the Tiger Woods story, the Tiger Woods story is following me.
To my knowledge, Woods didn’t artificially boost his fabled skills on the green with performance-enhancing pharms – that is, he’s not a hypocrite about the thing which has brought him great fortune and fame. He is apparently a serial philanderer in a sport that may not be as flashy as football or basketball, but golf still has a reputation for star players who womanize. Why the torrential downpour of condemnation, then? The sheer vindictiveness of it suggests two possibilities, one uglier than the other.
The Least Ugly Explanation: America is now getting to savor the epic sex scandal that the David Letterman extortion case promised but couldn’t satisfyingly deliver. Dave’s talent in his chosen field is inversely proportional to Tiger’s, which is to say: Letterman is as shitty a comic as Tiger is a great golfer. America quickly decided it needed its designated “Late Night” Loser too much to sacrifice him. But the knives were already out, and guess which actually talented celeb was exposed shortly after Dave? It’s much more entertaining to watch a true giant fall.
The Most Ugly Explanation: Tiger Woods handily earned the title of the first African-American (or, at least, biracial) superstar in a mostly Anglo game. Not only that, he easily outperformed his Anglo competitors. So the pressure has always been greater on him to be a game-transcending role model, to “behave” in his private life the way nobody would expect a white player to do. But Woods committed the sin of acting out like a pro basketball or football player – populist sports with a high percentage of athletes who, ya know, look like him – when he should’ve been grateful to the lighter skinned golf elites who nobly accepted him as one of their own. In other words, pro golf’s favorite token tarnished himself not so much with adultery, but with reckless ingratitude. Yeesh.
Reject my theories if you want, but it’s hard to deny this: Something much larger than high-dollar professional sports, or even the patented allure of booty-fueled celebrity downfalls, is behind the strangely intense and protracted fury that Tiger Woods is weathering.