Into the Woods

I am not the type of person who is into gossip about famous people; I feel dirty talking about other people’s problems and troubles, but this is different. This is a topic that cannot go unspoken. What he did has and will have an enormous impact on his image and the PGA altogether. Tiger has gone into the Woods.

Early on the morning of November 27, 2009, Tiger Woods was involved in a traffic incident that’s cause has tarnished his image and lost him many fans. The story goes that at approximately 2:25 AM on Black Friday, Woods was found in his Cadillac Escalade unconscious after he had hit a fire hydrant and his neighbor’s tree. His wife had knocked out the back window with a golf club and taken him out of the SUV. He was not wearing any shoes nor a seat belt and his air bags did not deploy, meaning he was driving less than 20 mph. The Florida Highway Patrol concluded that the crash was not alcohol related. Tiger then released an explanation on his website saying, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.” He has yet to admit to having affair, although his text messages sent to cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs, and his voice message sent to her phone, are pretty damning evidence. So does this mean that Tiger owes us an explanation and a gigantic, gushing apology?

When the news first broke that Tiger was involved in an early morning accident, everyone was hoping the best for him and worried about what had happened. Several theories came out why Tiger was out that early in the morning. Originally, I had my own little theory on what happened that fateful morning. Allow me to speculate…

Tiger Woods was at his Orlando home and he lives a good distance from stores who had their Black Friday sales starting a few hours into the day. Tiger set his alarm clock for 2 in the morning, but it did not work so he woke up at 2:30. He needed to drive to HH Gregg to get his 84′ LCD Flat Screen TV, so he was in a rush to make it to the front of the line. He was in such a rush to get out of the door that he did not have time to put on shoes or his seat belt. Still partially asleep, he ran into the fire hydrant and then the tree when backing up. Without his seat belt or air bags deploying, he was knocked out. His wife, Elin, ran outside to see what all the commotion was about, and the only thing around the garage to break in a window was one of Tiger’s many golf clubs. No affair. No fight. No nothing.

Now, of course, there is essentially no chance that that actually happened, but we certainly would like that to be true. We don’t like our heroes to let us down, especially when they have seemed more than human, a deity placed on this Earth. We found out that he has been involved in nearly a dozen affairs between several cocktail waitresses, pornstars, and such. He has shattered the image that most people have of a perfect, almost super-human person who can do no wrong. Tiger was placed on the highest pedestal possible, and he has let down many of them.

But if you take a look at Tiger’s history, we already knew that he is not the greatest guy. He has been known to throw clubs, curse excessively, and yell at people who take pictures of him during his back swing. So how do you think he will handle things when someone in the crowd yells, “You’re a cheetah” which will work even better when he is up in New England? Will he go back to throwing clubs and cursing or will he reflect on what he has done and what has happened and change? It should be interesting to see if he can stand up to the pressure Either way, he will still be the greatest golfer ever and get to that sacred 19th major.

What Tiger did is between him and his wife, or soon-to-be-ex. He did not kill anyone and he is not going to jail. He merely hit a fire hydrant and word came out about many affairs. Not only does he not have to go onto Oprah or Letterman’s show and give out a tell all story, but he should not. There is no way that he can look better in the eyes of the public more so than he already is or is not. Many people will never forgive him no matter how much he begs for acceptance or how much charitable work he does. Similarly, many people have already forgiven him because they have been in a similar situation, or they do not think it is that big of a deal. If he goes on Oprah, he will not appease the mostly women audience, and if he goes onto Letterman, some will think he is making a mockery of what he did. Either way, he should just keep the details to himself.

While the public, myself included, would love to know ever last detail of the events that have taken place, they will not help anyone’s cause. The women who have admitted to having an affair will not get any more attention, his wife is already filing the divorce paperwork, and he is going to have to move on with his life. His wife leaving him is probably the best thing possible for Mr. Woods because he will be free and will not have to see her every day and think about what he did. He can stay on his yacht, which is aptly named ‘Privacy’ and attempt to move on in his life.

There have also been steroid allegations that have came out in the last week. Even though the best doctors and hospitals in the world are in the United States, Tiger had a Canadian doctor who also worked with Olympian Dara Torres. Dr. Anthony Galea has since been found with human growth hormones and Actovegin, a drug extracted from calf’s blood, at the US-Canada border. But golf is one of the few sports where steroids would not make a huge impact. Phil Mickelson and John Daly are far from the best fit people in the world. Golf is most about precision, accuracy and making the right play then just brute strength. Tiger is already a very fit man, so steroids would not give him that much of a boost. Tiger cheating in golf by use of performance enhancing drugs is about as crazy as cheating on a Swedish supermodel wife. But in the event that he did use steroids, the most likely situation was for recovery, which would not put a mark on his legacy; at least it would not to me.

As for Tiger’s legacy, I agree with Nike Chairman Phil Knight who said, “I think (Tiger)’s been really great. When his career is over, you will look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now.” At the end of Tiger’s career, we will remember him as the greatest golfer to ever live, not an unfaithful husband. In the same way, we remember Michael Jordan as the best basketball player ever, not as a cheater. Most people have forgotten about his “indiscretions” by now. We should not remember Tiger as “that guy who cheated on his wife over a dozen times.” We should always remember people in general for what they did right, not problems they had to the side of their profession. What players do off the field should not affect how we think of them as athletes. Nobody is perfect.

Tiger is the best golfer in the World, not the best husband

Tiger is the best golfer in the World, not the best husband

Woods’s off the course actions should not impact his legacy nor many of his sponsor’s thoughts on him. I can understand if some “family oriented” companies take a a moral stand against what he did, but I would not understand it if companies such as Gatorade and Nike back out of a deal with him. Gatorade already has already stopped the manufacturing of Gatorade Tiger, so that has come as a shock to me. Tiger has never sold family or the average person, like Brett Favre does with Wrangler Jeans. Rather, he says, “I am the best. Try to be as good as me.” Nike sponsor’s him as the best golfer in the world, not the best husband. And we should se him in the same way.

For now, Tiger Woods will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the sport of golf to “focus his attention on being a better husband, father, and person” It could be a month, three months or a year. I do not think this is the greatest idea, though. The best way to get your mind off something bad is to be occupied with something and playing golf is certainly that. Sitting around your house is not. Could he be building up anticipation for his return, likely around the Masters? Sure. Could he be further recovering from his injured knee? Perhaps. Could he be setting up his own tour to rival the PGA? Likely not. Either way, he will be appeasing his haters, but not really helping himself out.

I would like to congratulate the Associated Press for selecting Tiger Woods as the Athlete of the Decade, even though around half of the ballots were turned in after his unfortunate series of events. What many people have said is the greatest fall from grace, which I vehemently disagree, has not impacted the image of Tiger’s tremendous accomplishments in the eyes of the top of the sports writing world. Whether be it a month, year, or decade, this series of digressions will blow over, and we will remember Mr. Eldrick Woods as the greatest golfer who ever lived.

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