In Defense of Tiger Woods

I love my job, but working for a golf retailer isn’t much of a conversation starter. It certainly could be; just not right now. Right now, when I meet people and answer the inevitable question about what I do, most of them aren’t sure how to follow that up. The only exception is when I first started the job in 2011 and the Tiger Woods scandal was still fresh in people’s minds; I was asked about that once or twice.

Not that it will ever go away completely. Tiger’s third on Forbes’ list of the Most Hated Athletes in America. It stuck in my mind today when I saw an article about Tiger saying that golf critics don’t understand the game. This was after being asked probably the millionth time about Rory McIlroy (more on that later), but it was still quite harsh.

Tiger Woods Vanity Fair

I’m not saying Tiger Woods is a great guy. He destroyed his family and that’s inexcusable. Yet it continues to bother me when I see sportswriters and bloggers talk about how cold he is to the media. How could anyone expect anything different? He practically grew up in front of the media and probably never expected it to turn on him.

That brings me to my next point. Earl Woods deserves a bit of blame. When this video circulated the Internet a few months ago, all anyone seemed to comment on was Tiger’s poster of Jack Nicklaus and the Nike socks he wore with his Reebok sneakers. For me, it completely changed the way I saw Tiger’s relationship with his father. Earl Woods was a stage dad. Everything about that video looks carefully controlled, from the Nicklaus poster to the book labeled “Dictionary” to his rarely-seen mother Tida smiling for the camera. Earl even talks about the marketability of his son’s mixed racial background; and it’s evident that he’s passed that knowledge to him. Notice how they mention Tiger wanting to study business. His whole life was a business lesson.

Tiger Woods was a child star. Of course he would have a sense of entitlement. Of course he would think he was immune to negative press. He probably thought he could do anything and not face consequences because his clean-cut image was carefully controlled to make sure of it. It’s Child Star 101: he could have turned out like Lindsay Lohan and it wouldn’t be all that shocking. Again, I’m not saying Tiger didn’t deserve what he got. I just don’t know why the media expects him to be anything but sullen and withdrawn. He only looks genuinely happy when he’s with Rory McIlroy, the clean-cut 23-year old who’s currently he only one above him in the world rankings.

So when McIlroy shocked everyone by suddenly withdrawing from the Honda Classic, the golf world went nuts. Had Tiger passed his bad attitude along to him? Maybe. Maybe not. To be honest, I’m still suspicious that they’re just acting chummy for the press but I’m in the minority for that one. Tiger has no friends anyway, so maybe a staged friendship’s better than nothing.

And that’s what I think about Tiger Woods. I can’t talk about golf with most people, so I’m doing it here.

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