Tiger Woods' carefully-staged apology is more than an hour old, yet most of the cable news networks are still "debating" the pros and cons of his sincerity.
I felt uncomfortable watching it. Perhaps it was the staging, which gave it the gravitas of a presidential proclamation. The "audience" was made up of his mother and other close friends. They watched in total silence as Tiger apologized for his past digressions. It just felt very... unsettling.
Now first off, I'm a Tiger Woods fan. I root for him when he plays golf. What he does in his private life is his and his wife's business. I do believe that he acted like an entitled man-child with all his sexual escapades. He seems selfish and very full of himself, so today's apology couldn't have been easy. That being said, I get the feeling that the real reason for today's speech was more about the corporate Tiger than the personal.
Tiger's business endorsements have taken a major hit during the past months. Multinational corporations are the life's blood of the PGA. Just watch fifteen minutes of any event on TV. All the commercials are banks, investment corporations and high-end big-ticket items. Large corporations, many of which have recently had their own public relations problems, sponsor almost all of the tournaments. It is a sport not meant for the masses, but for the upper class. The loss of Tiger Woods who for many humanized golf, has been devastating for the sport.
Here in Los Angeles, the annual tournament at the Rivera Country Club has been sponsored by Northern Trust, a money management institution. Before Northern Trust took over, Nissan sponsored the tournament. Tickets went for about $20 to $25 dollars a day for the public. Enormous crowds. This year Northern Trust raised the ticket prices to $50, a ridiculous price to watch a tournament in this economy. Naturally, attendance was way down, as were golf ratings in general no doubt to the absence of Woods. With the public's newfound animosity toward corporate life, golf is in danger of falling off the radar.
While I believe that Wood's apology to his wife was sincere, I got the feeling that the reason for the staged speech was to assure the corporate world that all will be well. Don't abandon me yet. As I write this Nike and other sponsors are issuing statements of support for Tiger. They have no intention of abandoning him or the sport. I guess that's what made me so uncomfortable watching him. It was about business.
Two days ago economic figures came out showing that the stimulus bill worked and a depression was avoided thanks to President Obama's leadership. Job losses are within a month or so from becoming job gains. The tax cuts on 95% of Americans are working. Yet most Americans believe that President Obama has done nothing and don't realize that their taxes have been cut. That night, Diane Sawyer's ABC network newscast spent the first six minutes on the news that Tiger Woods was going to issue a statement in two days. Why is President Obama having trouble messaging with the public? Obviously the mainstream media cares more about the corporate world of the PGA than the reality of our economic landscape. It's all about celebrity.
I wish Tiger Woods and his wife well and hope things get worked out between them. However I don't really want to hear a blow-by-blow account of how it's going between them. But we will. The Diane Sawyers, CNNs and the rest of the media will make sure of it. Maybe that's why I was so uncomfortable watching Tiger this morning. After all, the mainstream media is run by the same corporate giants that sponsor the PGA. Perhaps that's why the statement was deemed so important that all three major networks broadcast it live. Way too incestuous for me.
Maybe I've become way to cynical about the media's motives, but I somehow doubt it. As for Tiger, hope to see you on the links when you're ready.