Who Owns Tiger Woods?

December 3, 2009

If we are not up to speed on Tiger Woods’ latest adventures in full contact driving, you haven’t watched CNN for five minutes in the past week.

We have covered golf for years on some of our other sites like  Tiger has been the best thing to happen to golf since Jack Nicklaus.  When he is playing, ratings sky rocket, kids get interested, fans focus in. He is no doubt the most exciting player in the game’s history, punctuated with an exclamation based on his one legged US Open win.

Now the guy appears to have screwed up and the story cannot be ripped off the front page of every newspaper, lead TV story, and web site (I guess us included).

Why the righteous indignation?

Is it because someone so extraordinarily skilled has shown his vulnerability and we gain a satisfaction watching the idol show his feet of clay.  Is it because the public feels betrayed?  Do we assume our sports stars, actors, and politicians become our public property?

As a person in advertising I was asked if this means his value as a spokesperson is now gone.  I said “Not at all.”  He is just as valuable as ever and this is a personal issue not a legal one.  We have come a long way since Fatty Arbuckle.

How many public figures have not shown some foibles?  Do we hate Angelina Jolie for her dalliances with married man Brad Pitt?  Not either.  They are both big news wherever they go.

What is amazing from the media is that there have been none of the usual racial overtones, I mean Tiger’s wife being a foreigner, Swedish and all.  Did she marry him for riches, fame and a Green Card?  What does she owe to him?  And what does he owe her?  And do they owe the public anything at all?

So who owns Tiger’s reputation?  Is it Tiger?  Is it his advertising partners?  Is it the public?  His agents and advisors who counseled him along the way?

Tiger built the reputation, with the help of everyone.  But the reputation belongs to him.  Everyone else can walk away.  He can never do that.  So he is hurt the most by this scandal.

If he squandered some of his good will with foolish activities, he loses. If his wife went ballistic (as it seems), maybe she also bears some responsibility for his image equity stumble.  If she had handled the problem less physically, there would not have been such a headline grabbing story.

Public figures are continually counseled to avoid the enticements of the seeming thousands of willing sexual partners and illicit drugs freely offered to them.  Yet, they continue to fall prey.  The transactions are all one-sided to the benefit of the willing partners.  I guess it just proves that Freud was right and the super ego can only hope to control that rascal id.

While the media works its way past the personal issues they know nothing about and can only endlessly speculate about, we are condemned to see continuing speculation in place of news.  Everybody doesn’t screw up like Tiger did.  But I don’t recall him ever applying for the job of moral compass.

Amongst other things folks complain about is that he curses loudly at his shots on the golf course – mind you other golfers walk around smoking.  So where are the villains?

Most folks have flaws.  Are we surprised at that?  It is a false sense of ingenuousness if we are.

Now, about Meredith Baxter.  What’s up with that CNN?

As to why people care so much about celebrities?  That is an interesting question.  They are, as Daniel Boorstin wrote in The Image, “famous for being well known.”  Now, that’s a future blog.

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