The instant the allegation was made that Tiger Woods had a mistress the predictable happened. The media and public gloat over the tumble of a superstar was on with a vengeance. His name, image, the derailing of his march to golf immortality, the back peddle of sponsors from him, and the pompous, self-serving hand wringing over his supposed sully of the pristine game has been fair game for incessant mass tongue wagging.
The mean spirited cracks, digs and barbs about Tiger haven't been endless fodder solely for print and talk shows. In a survey of golfer opinion about Tiger's plight on golf.com, a fair number of his golf peers and so-called friends also got in their licks at him. Tiger has managed to do something that seemed humanly impossible. He's momentarily replaced Sarah Palin as the favored butt of comics and pundits.
At first glance this all seems pretty heady stuff for a young black guy who totally dominated a sport where a scant few years back the only thing black on a major, private golf course was the tires on golf carts. Golf for most of the past century was a game in which blacks were systematically barred from tournaments and competition.
But lest anyone think it's a vindictive public and gossipy media that's feasted on Tiger's woes, the Tiger gloat has also burned through black websites, chat rooms, and on black talk shows. The rap is that Tiger got what he deserved for supposedly thumbing his nose at blacks by bestowing the ridiculous, nonsensical racial designation of calibanasian on himself, rarely appearing at black events, for marrying a white woman, and for his scandalous lust for white porn, cocktail waitresses, and attendants. The Revered Al Sharpton even took a tongue in cheek slap at Tiger for not having the decency to toss some of his mistress action at black women. That way they could've made make a few bucks peddling their weird mix of sex laced truth, exaggerations and lies about romps with Tiger to the celebrity gossip gorged tabloids.
None of this should have surprised. Tiger brought record numbers of fans, and viewers, sky high TV ratings, packs of sponsors, and mountains of hard cash to the sport. This only fueled the latent envy and jealousy of many spectators and some golfers at his skill, talent, and unprecedented success. The whispers and grumbles were non-stop that Tiger was arrogant, smug, egoistic and a plastic marketing creation. The Tiger bash just needed the requisite misstep to explode to the surface in all its ugliness.
Tiger did two things that assured that the gloat over his fall would spread far and wide through out much of the media and the public. He miserably failed to live up to his front of the Wheaties box Madison Avenue contrived image. The second was that he miserably failed to be the second coming of Jackie Robinson.
Tiger in a sense was a victim of his innocence and naiveté. He just wanted to play golf, make money, chase titles, and, in his secret world, chase women. That was impossible. The media and public expectations, demands, and the myths that trapped him were just too grand. It was a prescription for disaster. And now that the predictable disaster has happened, the gloats at his fall are just as predictable.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.