Tiger Woods was criticized by some for recently vocalizing his weariness with endlessly repeated and predictable questions.
Said Woods during a press conference at The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia with regard to the repeat question: "I have to deal with it in every single press conference. I have to answer it in post-round interviews -- whether it's with you guys or in a live shot. You do that for a couple of years, sometimes you guys can be a little annoying."
How dare Woods tell the truth and call the media "annoying?"
After the over-kill (and often viscious) press coverage of his flawed personal life, many in the public (and the media) still refuse to cut him any slack or side with him on any issue. And they never will -- that is their right.
As one who was invited to a few professional hockey and baseball camps and play to about a 10 handicap in golf, I feel I at least have a basic understanding of sports. As such I have become a solid fan of the immense talent of Mr. Woods. Not only is he mentally stronger than anyone of the PGA tour, but quite possibly, mentally stronger than anyone in the world of sports. That said, I am far from a fan of his behavior.
Mr. Woods was inserted into a bubble early in his life and then surrounded by sycophants trying to figure out a way to mooch off of him, use him for their own gain, or just bask in his fame. Elvis anyone?
Along with being inserted and then trapped in that bubble of fame only a handful of people have ever known, Mr. Woods also got stuck in a locker-room mentality that saw him make inappropriate comment after inappropriate comment with the sycophants laughing and back slapping with each joke or insult.
A case can certainly be made that Mr. Woods simply does not know better. That no one beyond his father was strong enough or really cared about him enough to make him grow up and step outside that locker room into adulthood. Who knows? That's more the world of psycho-babble than sports.
No matter the verdict on Mr. Woods with regard to his behavior, he still has the right to be reserved or confrontational with the media and even more so with some of his "friends."
Why? Let's look at his good "friend," Hank Haney. Some would call him the former golf instructor of Tiger Woods. I would call him a backstabbing-weasel trying to make a buck off his old student.
After parting with Tiger Woods as his golf coach, (but presumably still his friend), Mr. Haney decided the best way to pay Mr. Woods back for handing him a large fortune and for putting him on the golf-world map, was to write a tell-all book about him. Classy.
Asked about Haney and his backstabbing book timed for release just before The Masters, Mr. Woods said in part: "I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing, especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend. There have been other one-sided books about me, and I think people understand that this book is about money. I'm not going to waste my time reading it."
Bingo. Nothing more to see here.
Except, certain reporters refused to let it go. One being Alex Miceli, a contributor to the Golf Channel. During a press conference at the Honda Classic, Miceli kept on Woods about the book to the point where Woods angrily said to him: "You're a beauty, you know that?"
Now, if a Hollywood studio was casting for an arrogant, pencil-neck geek reporter, they would stop the casting call the minute Miceli walked through the door. Hardly an example of the grizzled sports reporters of the past with the five o'clock shadows at ten in the morning.
But that's also the point here. One that Mr. Woods and the rest of us have to acknowledge. While this is not a political statement in any way, the fact is that the face of sports reporting has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. And not necessarily for the better if you are an athlete.
As the three major television networks and a majority of the top 100 newspapers have become left-of-center in their political and world views, their sports departments have undergone a complete overhaul to reflect that change. Sports reporters are often now hired less for their experience with regard to sports and more because the media outlet is trying to diversify the department.
More and more of the reporters covering a particular sport have less and less knowledge of that sport or the exceptional skill needed to excel at those sports. Some don't even like sports or athletes. The gig is just a rung on the career ladder. As such, they either don't know or don't care to learn of the work needed to reach athletic pinnacles or the pressure to stay there.
That's a reality of life Tiger Woods and other athletes will now have to accept. That said, Mr. Woods is still allowed (and encouraged by some) to call out an idiotic reporter or question from time to time.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir titled "Rolling Pennies In The Dark." (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
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