Forgive my golf kick (which continues with my column tomorrow), but…. if you want to know who really is to blame for all those kids being let down by Tiger Woods’ scandalous behavior, the answer is: All of the hypocrites in the media who spent 13 years fawning over Tiger and not ever sharply criticizing even his obvious deficiencies in comportment and graciousness, thus helping burnish the image of super-hero that kids took to heart, only to be crushingly let down in the past five months. Sure, Tiger is at fault for his transgressions, but the fault for setting up the kids for such a let-down belongs with Woods’ hagiographers in the media. Now, though, the hagiographers continue to fall all over themselves to see who can say the harshest things about Woods — not just for his sexcapades, but for his demeanor, deportment, phoniness, and lack of graciousness. Witness this mostly on-target, but eminently nasty column in this week’s Sports Illustrated by Selena Roberts. (Aside from her Tiger commentary, the column is badly marred by a cheap shot at the hosts at Augusta National, calling them guilty of “hypocrisy” for unstated transgressions. Okay, they took far too long to let blacks play there, a sin more then remedied in the past 35 years. Other than that, what hypocrisy? Refusing to let women become members? That’s not hypocrisy, it’s a choice.) Read the column. Read her digs at Tiger for an “expletive-laced third round,” and for his “surly dissection of his play, without thanking fans or congratulating the champ.” And so on. To which I ask again: Where in the bleep was Roberts, and where were her media compatriots, for the previous 13 years, when Tiger’s public behavior was just as bad or worse? I’m not a full-time sports writer anymore, but I found time to criticize him for it way back when. Where were these oh-so-brave commentators before it became a popular thing to do to bash Woods? Why did they only find their voice when their voice was part of an echo chamber?
And they have the gall to complain about hypocrisy….
Now, as for Woods. Yes, he still hasn’t learned. He still isn’t giving back to the game that has given him so much. He just announced today that his next tourney will be at Quail Hollow in North Carolina, where he has won before and where the prestige is high. But, again, he will skip the tourney in New Orleans, where he has NEVER played in 13 years, not even in the first two years after Katrina when the tourney and the city desperately needed a boost and where Phil Mickelson was not only playing but donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts. Indeed, there are a number of places where Tiger has never played even once. He fails to realize that with his stature, he can turn an ordinary tournament into a big and successful event, and that all tour stops, not just the bigger ones, make up the organization that provides his living, and all are manned by many volunteers, and all donate great amounts of money to local charities. He owes to the tour, and to those tournaments, an occasional visit to each one, in order to “give back” to the game. Jack Nickluas made a point of trying to play in each place at least once, for just that reason. But not Tiger. Not even after his scandal.
He still doesn’t get it. And if the media sheep who all bleat in the same notes want instead to actually say something substantial and new, they will criticize Woods for this sort of thing — not for the sorts of behavior for which they blast him now while havng remained silent about the same things for so long.
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