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Tiger Woods: Lost in the Woods?

Deepan JoshiContributor IFebruary 27, 2010

WINDERMERE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Tiger Woods practices golf outside his home on February 18, 2010 in Windermere, Florida. Woods will make a statement at the PGA Tour headquarters this Friday morning (February 19, 2010), according to a notice on the PGA Tour's web site.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images


As children, my brother and I used to consider whether heroes like Amitabh Bachchan and sporting ones like Sunil Gavaskar also had to answer nature’s call. For a brief period—at an age that I can’t pinpoint but can indicate by saying that it was characterised by an overwhelming feeling in which everything seemed larger than life—we found it difficult to place our heroes atop a commode. Nothing remarkable happened when the idea just dropped out of our consciousness; there was no ceremony and there is no memory of it and the only fact is that we grew out of that brief period as naturally and as simply as one season melts into another.

Childhood curiosity is one thing, and a deep-seated interest in the life of others quite another; it would be a lie to say that I don’t have any interest in the lives of others but I will emphasize that with every passing year an interest in my own life has grown gradually while the interest in the lives of others has declined.

I think that is what happens with most people; my mistakes, just like those of most other people, can be traced back to me. The margin I am keeping here is for a small minority of good boys, who are capable of committing heinous acts and also ensuring that the trail never leads to them.

With that said, allow me to start this post about the paparazzi culture and the Tiger Woods life uncovering mission which has become the latest obsession in the world. Is the Tiger Woods scandal really remarkable? Truth, by the way, is no defense in defamation cases, and the saviour of a reporter and a publication is fair comment (public interest).

Tiger Woods is a genuine great on the golf course, and he may not be an ideal husband, but there is no shortage of less-than-ideal husbands. This is typical Daily Mail journalism for you; just go to their website any day and you’ve got to give them credit that they do not lose a single opportunity to tell you how celebrity X has lost or gained a stone since she was last spotted in public. Any female celebrity who walks out without wearing a bra underneath would be up on their website with her cup size and her success at keeping gravity at bay.

There is no doubt that the public is interested but I have serious doubts on whether it is in public interest. It is in the interest of our gusto for the lurid that justifies such excavation. There is no moral high ground to claim but I would prefer some erotic literature over what to me is boring tabloid crap any day. How about a paper that unveils the life of tabloid scribes; would that be any less interesting?

I have learned from friends, who have more than a passing interest in the range, that golf is a sport that mirrors life very closely. I know the rules, but only those who play can tell you that it is a simple game if you can keep it simple.

Mark McCormack—the man who founded the first sports management company with just under $500 in capital, thereby giving birth to a multi-billion dollar industry—loved the game of golf and wrote in his bestseller What They Don’t Teach You At The Harvard Business School : “I have often said that I can tell more about how someone is likely to react in a business situation from one round of golf than I can from a hundred hours of meetings. Maybe golf cuts more directly to the psyche than other games and situations. Or maybe it is the venue itself—green grass and rolling hills. It’s astonishing how so simple a game can reveal so much.”

Tiger Woods pulling out of golf is already being seen as a threat to the sport that is struggling amid the recession, and one newspaper reported that the Tiger Woods brand alone is 50 percent of the sport.

In a statement published on his website, Tiger Woods said he was profoundly sorry and asked for forgiveness. Golfer John Daly said, “I’m in shock over it all, a lot of our players are in shock. I’m not happy with the way some of our players have responded—that’s their way of getting back because they know they can’t beat him at golf…”

Heinrich Böll, one of Germany’s leading post-World War II writers and the recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1972, wrote "a marvel of compression and irony," in The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum in 1974.

The back of the book cover reveals the plot: “Katharina Blum is pretty, bright, hard-working and at the centre of a big city scandal when, at a carnival party, she falls in love with a young radical on the run from the police. Portrayed by the city’s leading newspaper as a whore, a communist and an atheist, she becomes the target of anonymous phone calls and sexual threats. Her life is ruined by the distortions of a corrupt press; she shoots the offending journalist and gives herself up for arrest.

Step by step, and with an affecting forensic clarity, Katharina’s story is reconstructed for the reader, gradually disclosing an entire panorama of human relationship and motive. The novel is a masterful comment on the law and the press, the labyrinth of social truth and the relentless collusion of fact and fiction.”

The Times said, “Böll sustains a masterly and insidious tension to the end. He is detached, angry and totally in control.” Heinrich Böll served for several years as president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in 1985.

The plot is revealed because it is not the plot but the narration that makes the book great. On one side is Werner Tötges, the journalist behind all the falsification and on the other is Böll’s narrator, whose profession remains unmentioned, but he consistently separates facts from assumptions. The Sunday Times said: “Such is the force of Böll’s conviction, the clarity of his vision and the icy economy of his unemotive prose that within this short space he has distilled a spirit that burns into the palate the unmistakable and lasting tang of truth.”

The thickness of the book is inversely proportional to its impact—just about 140 pages. It is the social milieu of late 1960s and early '70s that the book attacks indirectly; especially the Alex Springer-owned Springer Press that controlled almost half of the newspaper circulation in West Germany.

“Art is always a good hiding-place, not for dynamite, but for intellectual explosives and social time bombs. Why would there otherwise have been the various Indices? And precisely in their despised and often even despicable beauty and lack of transparency lies the best hiding-place for the barb that brings about the sudden jerk or the sudden recognition.” (Heinrich Böll from Nobel Lecture, 1973)

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