Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
Even with the latest revelations about the many mistresses of Tiger Woods, I am sure his reputation will be saved in the long run.  Why is it that sports figures, who are the reputed role models of kids everywhere, can harbor this kind of storm, but legislators resign and run away with their tail tucked under their behind when their mistresses make the front page news?  
Piqued in Pasadena

Hey Piqued,
One thing’s for sure: Tiger Woods could actually take a page out of a politician’s playbook when it comes to managing the PR disaster that has surrounded this ongoing infidelity story.

For a guy who’s worth a couple gazzilion dollars, you’d think Tiger might be able to find some better people to handle his public relations. Here is a guy whose image was part of his brand. He sold Buicks, for crying out loud! Yet when he runs over a fire hydrant at two in the morning after Thanksgiving and is lying bleeding in the street, all he can come up with is “this is a private matter.” Nice try, pal.

More often than not when it comes to these things, it’s not the crime itself. It’s the cover-up. Hell, Richard Nixon could have told you that. But not all politicians, or sports figures are created equal. Consider this Death by the modern-day equivalent of the Watergate hearings.

Tiger Woods is no ordinary sports figure. He is the most recognizable athlete in the world. He shattered the racial barrier in a sport that has been notoriously exclusive and almost exclusively white. And Tiger didn’t just shatter the racial barrier in golf. He has dominated his sport like nobody else in a generation– with the possible exception of Roger Federer, for those of you who consider tennis a sport.

The interest in the story is directly proportional to the degree to which it flies in the face of what we thought we knew about Tiger Woods. Tiger was the child prodigy, dominant athlete who, similar to Michael Jordan, had an identity that was more corporate than anything else. He was a pitch man. But part of what made him so good is that he capitalized on an image that we all had of him – an image that we constructed ourselves.

Exchanging dirty text messages with porn stars doesn’t exactly fit that image. And our collective fascination/disgust with the story is linked in some way to our own embarrassment or shock at being so wrong.

Politicians wrestle with that too. Often, when it comes to philandering politician stories, it’s a story of hypocrisy. People like Larry Craig can rail against homosexuality while toe-tapping in a Minnesota bathroom. Or Mark Sanford can go ‘hiking on the Appalachian Trail’ (read: jet off to Argentina with his mistress) – while preparing to be the GOP presidential standard bearer. That’s a story.

But Ted Kennedy (rest in peace) skirt chasing on Capitol Hill? Heck, that’s just part of the Kennedy brand.

Is it fair? Probably not. But that’s the way it is.

Remember, Piqued, Tiger Woods was never elected to anything. Politicians, in some way, shape or form, enter a compact with voters for their trust when they run for office. For some folks, adultery can be a violation of that trust. And maybe that’s not fair. When people are larger than life, whether they be movie starts, sports icons or elected officials, we expect them some times to be super human. And time and time again, we’re reminded they are anything but.  

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