Paper Tiger: Why Do We Care About Woods Scandal?

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIIDecember 4, 2009

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13:  Tiger Woods of the USA prepares to putt on the 13th hole during round two of the 2009 Australian Masters at Kingston Heath Golf Club on November 13, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Harry Reid is a busy man. The Senate Majority Leader has to fund two unpopular wars, pass an increasingly spineless health care reform package, and focus on his reelection campaign, which promises to be much tougher than it was in 2004.

Which is why it was somewhat surprising that, when ambushed by reporters after a meeting, he told the press to “get the answers from Tiger Woods.”

As an isolated incident, such an event would be fairly insignificant. Reid wasn’t holding a press conference; he was walking out of a meeting that had been closed to the media for a reason, and it’s not a surprise that he wanted to avoid an interview.

However, his talk of Tiger was telling, as it was indicative of a larger problem with the way our society works.

Here’s the question: why do we care so much about Tiger Woods?

Our obsession with this story is just another example of our habit of treating ridiculous gossip as breaking news. It’s a destructive process to our society, and it isn’t just the media’s fault—they wouldn’t sell it if we wouldn’t buy it.

The fascination we have had with this series of events is absurd at the most basic level: what he did wasn’t that bad.

No one was physically hurt, he didn’t break any laws, and he’s no more of a hypocrite than the millions of other adulterers in America.

While I certainly can’t condone a man cheating on his wife, can we really condemn him for it?

On top of that, I would wager a large sum of money that no one who reads this article will have been personally affected by Woods’ actions.

With the exception of his wife, mistresses, and kids, no one’s lives have changed because of his infidelity.

Even if you are without sin, can you really cast a stone at someone you’ve never met?

Finally, unless Tiger cheating on his wife was as bad as, say, the guy who killed four cops in Seattle, and his infidelity somehow even affects the lives of people he’s never met, there is simply no reason for the abundance of press he has received this week.

This scandal has gotten more attention than President Obama’s announced escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

Woods has grabbed headlines ad absurdum while the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed said will be either “an historic event where the world unites against carbon pollution” or a global "suicide pact,” has barely gotten ink at all.

Perhaps the only news program that hasn’t fixated on Woods’ indiscretions is The Daily Show. What does that tell you about the state of our news media?

There is something in our psyches that causes us to care about famous people we don’t know. I confess that when I went to check my email the afternoon this whirlwind started, I was glued to my computer screen for a good 10 minutes, devouring any information I could find about Woods’ car accident.

But that’s no excuse for fixating on minutiae. There are more important things in life than sports, and there are definitely more important things in life than what people who play sports do off the field.

Incidentally, the band Survivor predicted this 27 years ago through song: “And we’re not on the ball ‘cause our Eyes are on Tiger.”