So today, Tiger Woods continued his Apology Tour 2010 with a note to his daughter's preschool, apologizing for any inconvenience the media has caused. Well, fine. Next, we can expect an apology to anyone who tried his sports drink for the rise in their potassium levels. Pardon me, but enough is enough already.
I have followed the whole Tiger shenanigans story from the periphery, for this reason:
I admire sports figures for the feats they perform on the field. As long as their off-field activities don't violate the rules of their sport, what they do in their free time is of little or no import to me; in the same way that I don't care what actor is in rehab or what singer isn't wearing underwear. I have been blessed with the ability to separate the personal lives of famous figures from their professional lives.
Tiger's physical abilities entertain me when I watch golf on TV or read about it in the sports section and in doing so, he provides me with a service, just like my mechanic, mailman and meter reader.
The bottom line is that if I could not care less who my mailman is sleeping with (provided it's not my wife, of course), why on Earth would I care who Tiger is sleeping with (once again, provided it's not my wife) or if he's sleeping with anybody? Never mind that it's none of my business.
Now the media is speculating whether his recent rounds of apologies are in preparation of returning to the competitive field and whether he will be able to make his way back to his former stature. Dan Jenkins, for one, doesn't seem to think so.
First of all, if you aren't aware of him, Jenkins is a venerable writer and novelist whose works include Semi-Tough, which was made into a 1977 movie in which Burt Reynolds' moustache and Kris Kristofferson's chest hair battle it out over Jill Clayburgh. He has contributed to Sports Illustrated and Playboy, among other publications.
In a February 18th column in Golf Digest, Jenkins basically rips Tiger the proverbial new one. Calling Woods "spoiled, pampered, hidden, guarded, orchestrated and entitled", Jenkins then goes on to unfavorably compare Woods to Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who were apparently deities in spikes and loud plaid pants and were "every bit as popular as Tiger", yet "accessible, likable, knowable, conversant, as gracious in loss as they were in victory, and, above all, amazingly helpful to those...who covered them."
I call B.S.
Not to the many wonderful qualities of Messrs. Hogan, Palmer or Nicklaus, who I'm sure are/were fabulous guys, but to the idea that they were ever as popular as Tiger Woods. Combined, perhaps, but certainly not one-on-one and Jenkins would know that if he weren't still living in the latter half of the last century.
Furthermore, I'm sure Palmer and Nicklaus would tell you the same. No one has done more for the game of golf than Tiger Woods and no one player's absence from the tour has been worse for golf than Tiger Woods'.
Jenkins goes on to state, "Never in my knowledge of history has any famous personality -- in sports, show biz, or politics -- ever fallen so far so fast."
Uh, Dan? O.J. Simpson is on line one.
Dan Jenkins is, sadly, out of touch with reality. He is a living, breathing anachronism who cries that Tiger sold himself, "shamelessly scooping up hundreds of millions of dollars", while saying that his Holy Trinity of golf never did.
That may be true, but it's also true that you can't sell what nobody's buying. Advertisers recognized Tiger's broad appeal among all demographics, not just golf aficionados, and up until about Thanksgiving, were more than ably compensated for their foresight.
In case you did not know, Ben Hogan happily endorsed cigarettes in the 1940s and '50s. I wonder if Jenkins thinks he did it solely for the betterment of mankind and wasn't at all interested in the money such acts provided.
I also wonder how many hundreds of millions of dollars Hogan and the rest of the triumvirate would have turned down, given the opportunity to get it by acting like, as Jenkins describes Tiger, "All-American Daddy-Pop Father of the Year Who Also Wins Golf Tournaments"?
What appears to be Jenkins' main issue with Tiger, greater even than his infidelities, is his inaccessibility. Notice how, in his descriptions of Hogan and company, Jenkins calls them "knowable" and "conversant", not nice or friendly. So they deigned to speak to him. Hoop-de-doo.
Jenkins writes of times he tried to get close to Tiger, only to be rebuffed. "Now," he writes, "it's too late. I'm busy." Right. I can hear Tiger now, begging for one more chance to hang out with an irascible old fogey like Dan Jenkins. What hubris.
Bill Murray famously said "I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: 'Try being rich first. See if that doesn't cover most of it'...(W)hen you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job."
I can't imagine living in the fishbowl that Tiger Woods does. Nor would I want to. To have every aspect of your life dissected by people who delight in exposing your foibles for the sole purpose of making money off your hard work and celebrity. I don't know if I could stand up to such scrutiny and I don't know who could.
I do, however, know this:
I'm not really what you would call a religious kind of guy. I don't attend church or anything like that. But, I am a big fan of Jesus. He seemed to be an overall all right type fellow and I try to take the lessons He taught and integrate them into my daily life. He once said, "Let he among you who is without sin, cast the first stone." That's heavy and quite frankly all too appropriate.
I am flawed, just like every other human, just like Tiger Woods and just like Dan Jenkins. I don't want my transgressions strewn before all to ridicule, just like Tiger Woods and just like, I'll wager, Dan Jenkins.
Therefore, I choose to put away my stones realizing that despite his failings, Tiger Woods has done a lot more not only for the good walk spoiled, but for society as a whole than I or most others have.
His charitable foundations, for example, raised 50 million dollars last year alone. It is unlikely that that money would have been raised without Tiger Woods' generosity, his time or his fame.
His achievements on the course have breathed new life into a sport that was, to many, a giant snoreathon prior to his appearance on the scene. He has single-handedly opened up the game of golf to more young players and more minorities than anyone who came before him. He made golf legitimate again.
Other than to kick someone while he's down, what has Dan Jenkins done lately?