Gene Wojciechowski, Just Shut Up About Tiger Woods
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm not one of BR's regular writers, never have been, and I'm usually most active from the end of the NFL season to the draft. By active, I mean writing my mocks.
Still, that doesn't stop me from showing up here regularly to check what's been significant—BR is a voice of reason where there are actually different opinions, especially compared to NFL.com, or more importantly, the famed "Worldwide Leader in Sports." Yeah, that's you, ESPN.
I will be the first to admit that I LOVE watching Sportscenter. I worship it, I probably average watching it every day (sure I miss it sometimes but I make up for it by watching twice on others). I was irritated when ESPN I insisted on showing something to do with Obama...on inauguration day.
And I'll be the first to admit that I never watch the "evening news"...who cares about that? Sports are a lot more interesting, and if it's something important I'll hear about it from one of my friends. By which I mean, I never hear about anything, because there's never anything important. But I digress...
But occasionally, ESPN delves into "news," usually only as it pertains to sports. Examples: Lance Armstrong coming out of retirement to ride in this past year's Tour de France, Chris Henry's recent tragic death, and generally "sports scandals," such as Tiger Woods's recent problems with infidelity.
ESPN writer Gene Wojciechowski, for example, often likes to write about "news." He wrote this editorial about the "Tiger Myth" and argues that Woods's previous decision and ability to keep his private life separate from the public view was admirable.
He argues that "We wanted to believe in his perfection, and Woods let us. He was a willing accomplice who perpetuated the myth, even though he knew the image didn't match the reality. It almost never does."
Okay, genius. Let's think about this: If you were a multi-millionaire, with every aspect of your public persona regularly scrutinized, would you simply let the world know about your failings? No, of course not. And yet you expect the one and only Tiger Woods to do that? Completely unreasonable.
"But wait!" I hear you saying. "I also said that Woods keeping his private life separate from his public life was 'fine by me.' How can you just dismiss that?" True, you did make that point. But then we are faced with the question of whether you're actually just complaining about worship of sports stars in America more generally, not just the worship of THIS sports star in America.
Wojciechowski states, "Depending on what pedestal you placed Woods, we have lost a sports icon, a role model, a bigger-than-life presence." Maybe you have, if you unrealistically expected him to be an archangel without human failings, just like the rest of us. Maybe you have, if you idolized him to the point where it blinded you to the fact that he wouldn't be perfect, at least away from the golf course.
Maybe YOU, Mr. Wojciechowski, utterly failed to temper your idolization of this sports hero when you yourself already knew about who you call the "frauds and liars": Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Jordan.
Maybe YOU needed Tiger to be more than he was- more than he possibly could be. And that failing, my friend, is on Gene Wojciechowski and no one else. Just as it was a failure of Gene Wojciechowski to buy into the hypothetical myths of those men.
Tiger is taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to get his own life in order. I am not one to judge Tiger's decision—if he feels he cannot play at a high level and still be a person, then it is the correct one. But here again, we have a theme: the decision is the correct one because Tiger is human. Not because he is some sort of god, or had to live up to some sort of myth.
Time to accept it: sports heroes are real people, and they will be idolized in spite of this fact. I, for one, will be ready for when Tiger returns to the golf course. I, for one, will be ready when he, as usual, wins regularly upon his return.
I, for one, will be ready to revive the "Tiger Myth" to the fullest extent it ever existed in my mind: a simple man rising above the rest of us to do something amazing. That is still inspiring, and no amount of personal failings off of the golf course can possibly take away the enjoyment of watching Tiger sink a birdie in a playoff to win a major.
So, Gene Wojciechowski, I have a message for you. Enjoy watching one of the world's greatest athletes, and if you think of his infidelity while you are watching him on the putting green, well...
Shut the hell up and don't ruin it for the rest of us.
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