Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wandering Eye of the Tiger…

OK, I just have to comment on this whole Tiger Woods thing. Now, I’m not going to render judgment. We are all human beings subject to our personal faults, foibles, and demons. I heard a great saying once. “I’m a perfect human being. I make mistakes, therefore I am a perfect human being”. We all do it. Some of them are bigger than others but we all make our share of mistakes (although I will say… 13 women? And we may not be done counting! WTF was he thinking?).

What I do want to talk about is how fed up I am with the arrogance of these athletes and celebrities. When Tiger first got busted, he made some lame ass apology and then chided the media for not affording him any privacy. Well, excuse the hell out of us Tiger. I was of the impression that those billion dollars you have banked were a direct result of the public’s interest in you. I don’t think any of those sponsors would be coughing up the big bucks for ME to endorse their products (not yet anyway… but who knows?). I’m not convinced you can have it both ways. If you’re going to garner all that attention, then you can’t shut us out when the going gets tough.

These excessively rich celebrities have gotten a tad out of control don’t you think? They have all this money because we, as consumers, are willing to spend on their movies, their sporting events, and the products they endorse. Without our interest (money) they would be making an average wage. So if we want to know just how many women Tiger is boning I think we have a right to know. We have a right to know if Barry Bonds is juicing. We have a right to know if Tom Cruise is nuts. This right to know is generated by our financing of their multi-million dollar life styles. If they don’t like the negative attention that goes along with the positive attention they should quit and find jobs with a lower profile.

Another thing that’s been bugging me… what’s up with the Escalade smashing into the fire hydrant? If you or I had done that, would there not have been an immediate test for impairment? How did Tiger get out of a breathalyzer? Why did the prosecutor decide there was not enough “evidence” to pursue the issue? Is driving your car into a hydrant, THEN a tree not evidence enough? I don’t think sober people do that! I mean, I can see the hydrant OR the tree… but both? Come on!

It’s our fault. We have allowed this to happen by supporting these industries. Are you going to tell me that Jennifer Anniston has more value to society than the men and women who teach our children? Police officers? Members of the armed forces? Is an athlete who barely maintains the necessary GPA to graduate worth the millions of dollars they will rake in over their careers? Are you telling me Kobe Bryant deserves to be paid more than a soldier on the front lines defending our freedom? There really is something perverse about that. I have no respect for Kobe the person. I respect his ability but is it worth millions?

These people who make their fortunes from our adulation of them, or the industries they work in need to take a long hard look at themselves. Where is the gratitude? I was at a Sonics game once and Brett Boone, the former Mariner was sitting in front of us. We had GREAT seats positioned right on the rail behind the courtside seats (which is of course where he was). Well, at halftime, there was a line extending all the way up to the entrance to the section of people wanting his autograph. He stood there in front of us and signed each and every one of them with a smile on his face. I was chatting with him and mentioned that he was showing some serious class by accommodating all those people. His response was something like “they buy tickets so I see this as part of the gig”. Of course there was later suspicion cast on his use of steroids so he too had his issues. But at least he seemed to “get it”. He wasn’t arrogant.

Frankly, I’m sick of these guys. There are people, GOOD people, starving in our country and arrogant, ungrateful, assholes are living in mansions because they are good at a game or look good in front of a camera. Where is the logic in that? Yeah, I understand. We live in a free market economy so you charge what the market will bear. So it’s really our fault. We cultivated this culture of arrogance and disdain by those we strive to emulate and follow. It’s up to us to stop it. But we won’t. Because we love our leisure time and are constantly looking for ways to fill it. Movies and sports are part of that. But it sucks. And so does Tiger.

This Tiger scandal isn’t just about Tiger and his family. This arrogant SOB’s actions will have a huge ripple effect that emanates outward from Tiger, through his family and friends, the world of golf, corporate America, and ultimately, the fans and CHILDREN who followed his incredible feats on the golf course. Tiger didn’t just let his family down. He spit in the face of America, the place that afforded him this amazing opportunity. His actions will affect the sizes of tournament purses, the ability to obtain sponsors for tournaments, his fellow golf professionals, the revenues of the companies he endorsed, the perceptions of fans towards athletes, and sends a message to the youth of America that it’s OK to act like an asshole. Yeah, we all make mistakes, but this one was HUGE. You know who I really feel sorry for? Tiger’s mother. She must be devastated. I feel sorry for Elin and the kids too. But they will walk away with millions. A mother is attached through blood and emotion for life.

But here’s the real rub. Tiger will be back if he wants to be. And when he comes back he will win again. And society will tolerate it because we always do. I tell my kids that they are going to screw up. And they will be judged in part by those screw ups. But they will be judged even more by how they recover from them. When we screw up, we need to own up to it. We need to apologize. We need to prove through our actions that we are genuinely sorry for what we did and not just for getting caught. We need to use our mistakes as tools that make us better people. It will be interesting to see what Tiger does in the months to come. I read a piece by Jay Mariotti today in which he opines that Tiger will NOT be able to recover from this. I tend to agree. Not because it isn’t possible but because I don’t think Tiger possesses the humility necessary for a recovery from a screw up of this magnitude. Tiger has made himself a target for ridicule. He doesn’t like being a target. But he’d better get used to it.


Common Sense