Thursday, December 10, 2009

Looks Like He Skanked This One Out of Bounds

I wasn’t going to write about Tiger Woods. Honest to God I wasn’t. It’s just too good to pass up any longer.

I’ve been sick of Tiger for several years. Not all his fault; the media and fawning fans have driven me crazy. To listen to them, golf isn’t worth watching unless Tiger is in contention. They’d rather watch Tiger putt out twelve strokes behind at a major championship than see the leaders go head to head.

That’s not to say none of my distaste is Tiger’s fault. No one gets away with foul language and club throwing like he does. He dictates to the Tour and its media as he wishes. (To those who say, “But he’s Tiger Woods, he can do what he wants,” I say Tiger would be a moderately successful nobody if not for professional golf, which was around before he came and will be there after he’s gone. He owes golf, not the other way around.) Tiger’s caddy is little better than a thug who is indulged by his boss. His entourage remembers slights and enforces grudges.

Now we know more about Tiger Woods than anyone ever wanted to know. His ads have been pulled. Skanks are coming out of the woodwork like roaches climbing over a doughnut crumb. Late night comedians have more fodder than they can use; if Jay Leno’s new show survives, he should thank the timely transgressions of Tiger Woods.

Normally this would fall into the “I don’t care” school of news, but there’s a small difference. Tiger has been put up as, and has put himself forward as, the new, post-racial poster boy for all that’s good in America, the 21st Century’s answer to the blond haired, blue-eyed surfer of the 1950s and 1960s. He’s made millions of dollars from the publicity associated with that conceit. (Or, as we now know, deceit.) Now the other side of publicity gets its shot at him. It’s only fair.

Tiger is the latest manifestation of the culture of entitlement that comes with celebrity in this country. Politicians have always had it, the sense that the rules that apply to others don’t apply to them. They’ve even gone so far as to codify them into law. Actors, singers, entertainers of any stripe, once they reach a certain level of fame, don’t have the same rules you or I do.

Many modern athletes have been surrounded by yes men masquerading as advisors since they were in junior high school. They’re told everything they do or want is right, because most of these hangers-on are afraid they won’t get to feed at the trough if they say “No” to the meal ticket. Tiger’s just an extreme example; he’s heard this since he was three, and from what is, to a child, an unimpeachable source: his father.

It looks like we’re far from the end of the Tiger Woods saga. Let’s just hope he kept his head covers on when he was playing a round at a course where he’s not a member.

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