Tiger Woods' Commercial Creates an Unnecessary Debate

Shaun AhmadSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods looks on as he addresses members of the media during a press conference prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

As Tiger Woods makes his much anticipated and discussed return to professional golf this afternoon, he will do so after stirring up a bit of controversy with his Golf?v=5NTRvlrP2NU&feature=pyv&ad=5188584844&kw=tiger%20woods" target="_blank">latest Nike commercial .  The ad was released yesterday evening and has sparked debates on television and radio shows all across the country.

The commercial shows a sullen and defeated Tiger Woods staring straight into the black and white camera lens, with the only movement being the blinking of his eyes.  The voice over is done by his late father, Earl Woods, who says: 

"Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are...and did you learn anything?"

Not surprisingly, people seem to be very for or very against the commercial, as some found it to be disrespectful to use the voice of his father.  Others found it to be touching and moving, to show the once unflappable Woods looking overcome and disappointed in himself while listening to his father's words. 

But in all this debate and arguing about a thirty second bit, a greater issue is lost.

Who are we, as the public, to decide whether the Woods commercial is disrespectful to his late father or not?  Who are we to argue whether Woods should have done the ad or not?  Who are we to dig to find what his motives were—be it money, sympathy, arrogance, or anything else people have come up with. 

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The commercial was a decision that Tiger made.  The use of his father's voice was Tiger's decision.  Tiger is the one who decides whether his father's voice on the ad is disrespectful or not. 

It's his father.  Not ours.  It's his family.  Not ours.  It's the rebound from his mistakes and infidelities that he is portraying.  Not ours. 

The problem with the public today is the self gratifying notion that we are entitled to decide what is right and wrong with a person, what decisions they should or shouldn't have made, and what they should or shouldn't say.  It's from this concept that the public feels they are owed an apology from every athlete who missteps in their personal lives. 

From the very beginning, Woods owed the public nothing .  He did not owe us a press conference, he did not owe us an apology, and he does not owe us an explanation for using his father's voice. 

"Athletes are public figures so they have a greater responsibility for their actions and should apologize for when they do wrong," is the argument I hear the most. 

Let me pose this question to you.  I'd say 99.9 percent of the people reading this are not public figures.  Now suppose you have an embarrassing moment in your personal life—whether you cheat on your spouse or get arrested for something, whatever the case may be.  Do you owe your neighbors an apology?  After all, most of us know our neighbors and are public figures in the local community, whether it's a street or a cul-de-sac.  Are you going to feel great when you go to get the mail and Bob from next door asks you why you did (insert embarrassing act)? 

You're going to respond by saying, "I don't owe you an explanation."

Ditto for Tiger Woods, and all athletes for that matter.  What they do in the realm of their profession is what they should be judged on.  What they do in their private life should remain private.  This seems like a difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around.   

It's appalling to me when I hear folks reminisce about athletes of the "good old days" living such cleaner lives and being such better role models—guys like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays or Bill Russell.  But true sports fans and historians know that the same things that occur today—sex, drugs and lies—occurred back then.  The only difference was the blood-sucking paparazzi wasn't around every corner of America to look for dirt on people to feed the growing number that read tabloids and check similar websites on a daily, if not hourly basis. 

People are people.  Give a lot of money to a twenty year old, treat him like a God, and have women throwing themselves at him in every city and you'll see what happens, eventually. 

It's time for the public to back off.  Take a step back.  Put down the crown of entitlement.  If you don't like Tiger Woods' commercial, change the channel.  If you don't like him for his personal affairs, don't watch his tournaments.  But quit sitting on your high horse and judging every step or analyzing every word of a man that you don't even know. 

In essence, get over it.


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