by Jeff Skinner
When The Chevron World Challenge tees off tomorrow it will be missing its host as Tiger Woods has announced he’ll be staying home due to the injuries he sustained in the car crash early Friday morning. Unfortunately for Woods this accident has caused him to miss his own tournament and placed him in the most unpleasant position of his career.
You know things are bad when Woods has to hire another lawyer to advise him on this matter. Team Tiger normally has a dozen of the “handler” type people working full time but Woods felt he needed more help. You know things are bad when The Golf Channel has a special show covering you and it doesn’t involve you winning a major. You know things are bad when all the public relations experts being interviewed on this matter say you need to talk and all the lawyers say you need to shut up. And finally, you know it’s really bad when you’re getting advice on how to handle your image from John Daly. Daly has been quoted as saying, “The thing that Tiger needs to look at is whatever happened just tell the truth.” Career advice from Big John? It can’t get much worse.
Tiger Woods is not your normal golfer. He is not an average athlete and he is not a “B-list” celebrity. He is the most recognized athlete in the world, the highest paid athlete in history and a celebrity that transcends sports. He is a one man industry.
Forget that Woods makes ten plus million a year on the course, his real wealth comes from all his endorsements for products off the course. He has at least a dozen contracts that pay him over a hundred million dollars each year combined. His Nike contract pays him over thirty million alone. He commands a ten million dollar paycheck for a golf course design and it is impossible to watch a sporting event without catching one of Tiger’s pitches. His is everywhere: television, radio, print media and the web. He trades his image for mega-millions and earns every one of those dollars. Tiger has made a great effort to forge a very respectable image and certainly has the right to be paid for his image and endorsement. But, along with those dollars comes a certain amount of responsibility.
The saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Tiger is the most powerful athlete alive. I am not saying that Tiger has a “great” amount of responsibility here, but he has some. When Woods trades his image for a few bucks he owes a little something to his sponsors and I believe a little something to those customers that use his products.
When people lay down $400 for a Nike driver or a few bucks for a Tigerade they are rewarding Woods and acknowledging his power. They are saying “Ok, Tiger, if it’s good enough for you, I’ll use it.” His fame, money and endorsements come at a price. Part of that price is at least being honest to your fans and sponsors. Woods knows that. If Woods chose to live like Ryan Moore and not have any sponsors or endorsements he would not have the responsibility that comes with those contracts.
Tiger’s family life and his personal business is just that, personal. He should protect his family life at all costs. But when he sells his image as much as he does he sacrifices a small part of “Tiger” to the public. The public that has paid Tiger millions of dollars deserves a little bit more than a statement on a website. He should get his face in front of a camera. Make a statement. No one is owed personal details of his life. “I had an accident, I screwed up, I am getting my life together and I look forward to Augusta.”
That’s all it would take. Then he can go on and live his life like Tiger Woods, not Ryan Moore.