Maybe I’m the wrong person to comment on Tiger Woods. As a writer I have zero interest in the private lives of athletes and celebrities. They are either boring or tawdry.
As a fan, I do have a little interest in scandal for entertainment value. I think Tiger should apologize to his wife, but the truth is I really don’t give a damn much one way or the other. I always assume that any celebrity press conference — or media event or public confession or whatever — is staged for the benefit of the athlete’s or celebrity’s public image.
I don’t have any strong evidence to back this up except people I talk to in the course of the day, some fan polls, and perhaps a few callers on radio shows on which I am a guest, but I have a strong suspicion that most fans agree with me. Which is why I’m so amused by the anger and self-righteousness in so many members of the sporting press.
At the Daily news, Mike Lupica, for instance, seems to see a moral denunciation as a way to pole-vault out of the sportswriter niche and into the ranks of big time issue columnists.
“The building [Woods] was in didn’t get hit by an airplane,” Lupica wrote on his Page Two column on Saturday, and you just know domestic terrorism by anti-tax nuts is what Mike really wants to write about.
So desperate are tabloid writers to force some kind of morality out of this nonsense that they’re even giving space to Woods’s porn-star mistress, Joslyn James (I think that’s her professional name, by the way.) “He’s so selfish,” she’s been widely quoted as saying, apparently resentful because Tiger talked her out of a promising career in X-rated films.
Even more pornographic is the indignation of the Golf Writers Association of America and their decision to boycott Wood’s public statement. “It was a statement that we’re not going to play by Tiger Rules anymore,” wrote Daily News writer Hank Gola, “the very rules that contributed to his precipitous fall.”
This might have more weight if more than a handful of Americans had even heard of the GWAA before this week. And how exactly did the GWAA’s playing by “Tiger Rules” contribute to the man’s downfall? Is Gola implying that the golf press had the means, but not the will, to blow the whistle on Woods’s off-the-course behavior? Does Gola or any other golf writer seriously think that we believe them when they say that they would have killed the biggest golden goose in the history of their sport if they’d been allowed to?
Sports Illustrated‘s Damon Hack told CNN that “While there are shades of gray in the argument, I believe the GWAA ultimately took a principled stand and the right stand. This was about respect – as golf writers, as journalists, and as members of the fourth estate.” I’ve got news for you, Damon. Neither Tiger Woods nor anyone else who turns on their hi-def TV next time they want to watch Tiger in a tournament gives an old pair of knickers for your pompous principled stand or even noticed that you weren’t there Friday morning. And what questions would you have asked if you been allowed to that Woods didn’t answer in his statement? (The one I might have asked is “why go to a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi?” except that I already know the answer from personal experience: It’s the most difficult state in the country to get sex.)
Surprisingly good on Woods’ confessional was New York Times writer William C. Rhoden: “What a precious waste of time. The obsession with Tiger Woods’s personal life and infidelity says more about our misguided priorities as a nation that it does about Woods. It also speaks volumes about the current state of the news media, which unashamedly feed this obsession. We create these inventions only to tear them down.”
Even better was David Carr in Sunday’s Times: “Those of us who had some experience with human frailties all know why Tiger Woods did what he did last Friday, which was to get in a room with people he had hurt or embarrassed to say he was ‘deeply sorry’ for what he had done. That part made sense, the beginning of a process of amends.
“I just don’t know what the rest of us were doing there.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2010