Tiger Woods is just the world’s best golfer.

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO  @NYCA

I am not pissed at Tiger.

I didn’t invest hundreds of millions in him like TAG Heuer, Nike, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette.

I didn’t even buy his clubs or red shirts.

I did buy into his supernatural, god-like ability to play the game I am completely dedicated to. And he has not let me down. He’s an athlete, I’m a fan. We have our roles. He hits amazing shots, I cheer. Deal.

Some say he let down golf.  He didn’t. Contrary to what his late father proclaimed, Tiger is not bigger than the game. I suppose this is proof. Golf doesn’t cheat.

I don’t think he screwed golfers either – well, only if those girls played golf.

So why is everyone so upset?

Because with Tiger – unlike Jordan and Kobe and all the other athletes who’ve done the same thing – it’s different. Was from the start.

His first Nike commercial when Tiger joined the brand set it all up. It said, in the first person, “Hello world, there are still courses I can not play because of the color of my skin.”

He made it about more than athletic prowess. Tiger was standing up not as a golfer but as a representative of his race. He wanted fairness, equality, outside the game. Fair enough.

There was the even more famous ad that followed, showing kids of all nationalities on the course, repeating the phrase: “I am Tiger Woods.”

This was more than an equipment ad because Tiger was more than just a golfer. Golfers didn’t just want to play with what he played, or play like him (remember Michael Jordan’s “I want to be like Mike” campaign from the same advertiser). They wanted to be him.

But now we see who he is, the personal side of him, and we are repulsed because we thought we knew him so well through millions of stories, videos, interviews read, shared, and commented on, that we wanted to be him. To the kids, he was them. Maybe he was the best of all of us. So when he sunk low, he brought us with him.

We can’t trust our politicians. They lie.

Or our corporations. They cheat us out of our 401K.

Or our banks. They sell us loans we can’t repay.

Or our clergy. They touch boys.

And now we can’t trust Tiger Woods.

So who can we turn to?

Ourselves. Oh boy, we can’t adopt another’s morality, character, integrity? We can’t be what we thought Tiger Woods was? Nope. Get up and look yourself in the soul and ask, “Are you Tiger Woods? Or are you more? Are you you?” It’s okay, you can say yes, you won’t be cheating on him. Tiger’s transgression changed his relationship with the world: his advertisers, his kids, his wife, and us. And, in part, that’s a good thing because it teaches us to be our own heroes.

It’s fine to want to bomb 360 yard drives with a Major on the line. It’s fair to covet his golf abilities. And it’s also good to know who you are admiring and why. You owe that to yourself.  Tiger Woods has been someone very special to millions around the world. He’s done some wonderful things outside golf – his foundation that helps so many children is one. And, yes, he has been caught cheating on his family. Some will one day forgive him.  I think that’s a good thing.

The truth is, even if we do forgive him, he’s not Tiger Woods any more. He’s just the world’s best golfer.

5 Responses to Tiger Woods is just the world’s best golfer.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NYCA, Inc., Andrew Begin. Andrew Begin said: RT Great Tiger article: "Tiger Woods is just the world's best golfer." @NYCAgrow: http://bit.ly/7p5nGM […]

  2. Kelly Abbott says:

    Tiger the brand is not a golfer though. Golf is a means to the media’s end. I’m sure he’ll bounce back (we love a comeback story as much as we love a fall-from-grace story) but the seedy side of participatory media is that we’re participating. When it gets ugly, so do we. Sports – unlike so many other media-driven businesses – has the fan element where we are expected to cheer and be heard. We boo occasionally, too, but at the sport or the performance within the sport. Getting fans — especially those wrapped up in the 24-hour news cycle, twitter streams, blogs and facebook pages — to recognize the difference between being a fan of the athlete within his sport and the athlete as a private person is darn near impossible. Me? I’m still waiting for all four majors in a single year. There are plenty of records to break. Not breaking them will be the bigger disappointment. But first, I’ll give him time and privacy. It’s funny how inattention may just be the remedy his legacy needs.

  3. Sydney says:

    Michael, great post! The world can’t stop talking about Tiger and what a bad kitty he’s been… I am one who is let down by him. To me, Tiger is NOT the world’s best golfer, he is nothing more than a schmuck who can play the game better than everyone else.

    Whether or not Tiger, or his supporters, want to admit it, a large part of TW was admired for not only the athlete he was, but for the man he appeared to be. Part of what makes (errr, ‘made’) Tiger one the greatest athletes of all time was his image off the course. He appeared to be ‘great’… he appeared to be this great man! He sold us all on his image, on his being a family man, a man who stood for hard work and dedication, a man of virtue and morals; he was a man who was so fiercely private and yet he was everywhere. Would the pedestal have been as high had it been common knowledge that he was having frequent unprotected sex with fame-whoring bimbos on a regular basis? Would he have been the first to reach $1B had it been known that he was addicted to pain medication and repeatedly shaming his beautiful wife and children? All the while giving exclusive family photo shoots to People Magazine to let us all in? Who is Tiger? “I’m just who I am, whoever you see in front of you”… umm, not so. I call bull $h#*. “Some say I was born to play golf, I think I was born to be a Dad” / “My wife, we’re in it together. We’re a team, and we do things as a team. And I care about her with all my heart.”/”Family comes first. Always.” Tiger, You now need to be a better man – because you got caught. You didn’t need to be a better man after the 7th mistress? After the 8th? And now you’re walking away from Golf ‘indefinitely’.

    There is no denying Tiger’s skill as a Golfer and people will continue to admire his game and be in awe of his ability. He has literally changed the sport, moved it forward and made it fun. Fun to watch and fun to play. That’s all tarnished now. Tiger is no great man and no great athlete for there is adoration and honor that comes with ‘great.’

  4. Dack says:

    I’m just going to throw this out there since no one ever wants to discuss this topic:

    Kanye West has managed to shut his mouth on the whole Tiger Woods drama.

    Thank you Tiger!

  5. Esta Spight says:

    Michael Jordan is still an idol to hundreds of thousands if not millions of kids all over the world. Now that takes someone special to do that so long after he has retired.

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