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Is it possible that Iím starting to feel sorry for Tiger?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
By Joe Logan

Just when I thought Tiger Woods and by extension golf had taken the worst hits they could take, someone pointed out this story in the Los Angeles Times.

 

It was written by Dan Neil, the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive columnist who for some reason was weighing in on advertising, offering his advice to any sponsor having anything to do with golf.  To wit:

 

Sponsors, run.

 

It doesn't matter if you're backing Davis Love III or Ernie Els or Vijay Singh; save your money. Honda, Deutsche Bank, MasterCard, Shell, make a break for it. For the immediate future, the branding opportunities of professional golf have been utterly vacated by l'affair d'tigre. Tiger Woods was and is the sum and whole of the game. He was and is the purest, most unalloyed product of the sport and culture of golf. And when all that is golf was cooked in fate's crucible and poured down this young man's gullet, the result was the perfect player who hasn't breathed an honest breath in years, a jerk -- Joe Francis with a 400-yard drive. Tiger's failure is golf's summary bankruptcy and indictment.?

 

Camelot fell when Lancelot sinned against the realm. Same deal here.

 

Get out now, sponsors. The golf brand has been wrecked.?

 

Now, I am not an expert in advertising, or in branding, or in corporate imaging.  But I have been around the block once or twice, and I believe that Dan Neil's analysis of the situation is overwrought to the point of being apocalyptic. 

 

This whole Tiger Mess is indeed a mess.  But it doesn't spell the end of the PGA Tour and it certainly doesn't mean the end of golf as we know it.

 

For one thing, Dan Neil's assessment of the situation and of the state of the game make me think he is not a golfer nor is he a long-time golf fan.  To me, he comes off like some Johnny Come Lately to golf, one of the folks who did not know the game existed before Tiger and doesn't see how it can possibly survive once he retires.

You and I know different.

 

Tiger has brought a certain cache to the game, and he made it hip in some quarters where it wasn't before, and he has grown the TV ratings.  But Tiger is not all there is to golf. Watching him play is one thing; playing my own game is infinitely more enjoyable.  So, I'm willing to bet the game will manage to muddle through for another 400 years once Tiger is gone.

 

For another thing, if there is one thing we Americans like more than seeing the high and mighty get cut down a notch or three, it's seeing them admit the errors of their ways, grovel for forgiveness, then undertake the slow, uphill slog toward redemption.

 

Actually, this might be a good place to note that I am beginning to feel the stirrings of,  well, Tiger-Bashing Fatigue.

 

When the news of his truly reprehensible behavior first broke, I was as angry and disappointed as anybody.  As the mistresses multiplied, I became more and more incredulous.  How could he do this?  How could this guy be so duplicitous and untrue to the image of Mr. Perfect that he worked so hard to create?

 

But after three-plus weeks of relentless battering by the tabloid, gossip and mainstream media, I find myself almost feeling sorry for the guy.  What he did was rotten to the core, but he didn't kill anybody, he didn't steal from Little Sisters of the Poor, he didn't provide safe haven for Osama bin Laden and he didn't sell out his country.

 

Getting right with his wife is going to take some work, assuming she is even willing to give him a chance.  Good luck with that.

 

As for getting right with the rest of us, if and when he decides to come back, demonstrating a little humility and flawed humanity will go a long way.   If he will just lose the Superman Complex and remove all pretense that he is invincible, invulnerable and immune, Tiger can begin to win back his squandered support and good will.

 

The days of looking up to Tiger are over;  now, people just want to look him in the eye and trust what they are seeing.


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Steve[12/23/2009 6:44:52 PM]
I think most people would just like to see and hear from Tiger now. Where is he?

Commissioner Tim Finchem 
Not to get all doomy and gloomy
Friday, December 18, 2009
By Joe Logan

To listen to Tim Finchem during his annual end-of-the-season conference call with the media on Thursday, you'd think this whole Tiger Woods thing is nothing for golf to worry about.

 

"I think the doom and gloom needs to go away and frankly is misleading to our fans," said Finchem.

 

Surely, the commissioner must be looking at different polling data than the rest of us.  What I keep reading is that, in the history of polls, no public figure's popularity has fallen faster or further than Tiger's.

 

Not to be a doomy and gloomy, but as Tiger goes, so goes golf Ė at least PGA Tour golf on TV.

 

I don't believe for a minute that what is going on with Tiger will affect the number of rounds I play this coming year, or how many sleeves of balls I buy or whether I take a golf vacation.  But I do believe that what's going on with Tiger will affect the number of people who pull up a chair and watch a golf tournament.  (Hint: If Tiger's not in tournament, the number people watching drops precipitously).  And I do believe that what is going on with Tiger affects how sports fans and corporate America view the game.

 

If you ask me, Finchem is whistling past the graveyard.  Who knows what the commish is saying to the boys in the back room at PGA Tour HQ in Ponte Vedra, or whether the whole place is in full-blown panic mode.  But on the conference call, Finchem came off like cheerleader-in-chief, professing to be unconcerned that the star quarterback just got carried off the field on a stretcher.

 

You can't blame Finchem, really.  He has a league to promote and a product to sell.  We all know he's putting lipstick on this pig of a situation. 

 

If you listen closely, you can hear Phil Mickelson's stock going up.


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Steve[12/18/2009 3:17:19 PM]
To quote Alfred E. Newman, "What, me worry?"

Let Tigerís redemption begin
Saturday, December 12, 2009
By Joe Logan

Will Tiger Woods be back?  Yeah.  The only thing America likes better than a juicy scandal is a good story of contrition and redemption followed by a return to glory.

 

Let's be honest here: Tiger didn't lose his golf game, he lost his bearings, his moral compass.

 

Who knows whether his wife can ever forgive him?  And despite what he says in his latest carefully-crafted statement, only Tiger knows whether deep down he truly wants to try to salvage the marriage and live out the perfect-world life so many of us figured he was already living.

 

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been no shortage of columns, blogs and bloviating to the effect that Tiger owes the public nothing Ė nothing other than the very best he can do on the golf course.  Beyond, they say, he can demand his privacy.

 

Legally, true. Realistically, bull.

 

Unless this scandal and hiatus do irreparable harm to his game, Tiger will go on to rewrite golf's record books, including eclipsing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.  But superior golf ability alone is not why Tiger is already one of the most famous athletes on the planet and arguably the richest. 

 

He has amassed his wealth not with his clubs alone but by creating one of the most respected, enviable images in the world Ė the priceless image of an unrivaled, clean-cut winner.  Without that wholesome image, Tiger makes Dennis Rodman money.  

 

So, if he can live with that, if he wants to return to golf and play out his career as a sullen guy wearing the black hat, refusing interviews, stalking away after every round of golf, then, yeah, he knows the public nothing.  But if Tiger wants to restore any semblance of his old life, he owes not just his wife but his fans an apology and a some kind of an explanation.

 

Just as his wife must now decide whether to find it in her heart to give him a second chance, so must his fans and the corporations that have financed his joyride .

 

This time around, no one is going to be quite as believing.


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What is Tiger thinking now?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
By Joe Logan

As we watch the slow-motion train wreck that Tiger Woods' life has become, I keep coming back to one question:  What is going through his mind now?

 

Is Woods, who is always such a picture of steely calm, control and determination on the golf course, curled up in the fetal position somewhere, moaning over the mess he has made of his life?

 

Or does he somehow fancy himself as something of a victim, as you might infer from some of the comments in the statement he released last week?

 

Judging from the stake-out reports from the tabloids, Tiger is not at his mansion in Isleworth, trying to repair the damage he has made of his marriage.  So, where is he?  Staying with friends?  Holed up in a suite in a posh hotel?  Has he taken refuge on his yacht, which he aptly named Privacy.

 

Have his buddies, like Mark O'Meara, John Cook, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, rallied around him, offering aid and comfort?

 

His prepared statement notwithstanding, is Tiger defiant and in the thick of plotting his own defense and return to glory.  If you want a sense of what is likely going on behind-the-scenes in Camp Tiger,  here is a story written by an veteran of PR crisis management.

 

The more this story reveals, the more it makes us all confront the reality that we never really people the way we think we do?  Having witnessed the self-control and self-denial required by Tiger to get to where he got in golf, it is almost inconceivable to see that he had little or no self-control in other, equally-important, areas of his life.

 

It's not difficult to imagine the sense of hurt and betrayal felt by his wife, Elin, but what about his mom, Tida?  For such a strong and proud woman, the profound sense of shock and shame feels must be unfathomable.  And were he still alive, how would Tiger's father, Earl, being handling this?  He predicted that Tiger's fame and his right to privacy would eventually come into conflict, but could he have imagined this in his wildest nightmares?

 

It is also impossible not to wonder how Tiger, who has had 13 years to learn to live with his ever-increasing level of wealth and celebrity, could possibly have been so naive as to wander so lustfully and so afar, leaving a telltale trail of text messages and voice mails in his wake.  Judging from his reckless behavior toward the end, it's almost as he wanted to get found out.

 

Wherever he is, is it possible that Tiger believes he can return to his old life, that he has the charm, the golf game and the goodwill of fans to make this all go away?

 

In other words, can he make us more or less forget, like Kobe did; or is his image forever in tatters, like O.J.'s?


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Steve[12/10/2009 12:46:26 PM]
His image will be zero when the porn movie is released. http://business.avn.com/articles/36928.html

Oprah dressing down author James Frey 
This is a job for Oprah
Thursday, December 3, 2009
By Joe Logan

For the past week, my morning routine has been to vault out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, fire up the computer and read the latest batch of TIGER CHEATS stories coming at us from all directions.

 

Once I'm able to pick myself up off the floor, I tap into my network of golf writer buddies scattered around the country.

 

Like you, none of us can believe this whole sorry mess Tiger has gotten himself into.  It's not that we can't imagine Tiger would do such a thing; living the life he has lived could tend to give one an over-developed sense of entitlement and invincibility. It's just that being the control freak he is, we are shocked that that we was so careless and sloppy about the whole thing. Very un-Tiger.

 

We are also not impressed in his taste in mistresses. If he was going to give in to temptation, why not cheat up, not down, with gorgeous movie stars who have as much to lose as he does if it ever got out? 

 

"Why go out for ground beef when you've got filet mignon at home?" wondered Jeff.

 

Today, we turned our attention to THE INTERVIEW.

 

We figure Tiger is going to lie low for a while, even if the tabloids chew on this juicy bone of a story for every last morsel.  Then, Tiger's people will announce that he is going to do one and only one interview on the topic of his 'transgressions' Ė after that, the matter is closed, so that he can return to the business of repairing his marriage and family life.

 

If we're right, that naturally begs the question of where this inevitable interview with happen?  With whom?  What outlet?

 

Here's how I handicap the contenders:

 

Barbara Walters:  The longtime doyenne of the primetime celebrity confessional interview, she's not right for this assignment.  For one thing, she's got no cred with the Tiger's fans, although, come to think of it, I would pay good money to see that cheatin' dog trying to get a word in edgewise on The View.

 

Golf Channel:  Too risky for an outfit whose revenue stream is dependent on being in bed with golf and with Tiger, with the covers pulled up.  If some sacrificial anchor asked kind of questions America wants asked, he or she, or the entire Golf Channel, could find themselves stiff-armed by Tiger at every tournament from here on out.  Granted, Golf Channel is doing more good stuff these days, but don't expect them to take a big swipe at the one guy in the game they need to keep happy.

 

60 Minutes: I'd be surprised if producers from 60 Minutes aren't already making calls to Camp Tiger. It would be a fastball into their wheelhouse.  But I don't think Tiger or his handlers would go for it.  Too risky for him.  60 Minutes is a legit news operation with a well-deserved, hard-hitting reputation to live up to.  No telling what kind of ghastly text message or voice mail Steve Kroft or Scott Pelley might pull out of his bag of tricks while Tiger's on camera.   True, the late Ed Bradley did plant a big, wet kiss on Tiger a few years ago, but with this fiasco, those days are gone.

 

ESPN:  It's possible.  Problem is, even though it's Tiger who's on the hot seat, this isn't really a sports story.  Of course, if he said something good enough, it could turn up on Top 10 Plays of the Day.  Also, ESPN has the same problem as the Golf Channel when it comes to taking swipes at a guy they don't want to cross.

 

Bryant Gumbel: We're getting warmer.  Imagine a contrite, humbled Tiger being glared at by Gumbel over his glasses, for a segment on Real Sports, HBO's excellent sports series.  Gumbel's got cred with sports fans, and he's got some history with Tiger.  Gumbel wouldn't torpedo Tiger but he would hold his feet to the fire.

 

Oprah: Bingo! If Tiger truly seeks redemption, he must come before the only Cultural Icon who truly has the power to lay her hand on his head and grant absolution.  Of course, Oprah wouldn't happen do that until she had wrung every last unseemly detail and a full confession from his sorry ass, followed by an indignant dressing down by her (see Frey, James) on national TV.  C'mon, really, will America ever be happy until Tiger has groveled at the Alter of Oprah?


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Joe Logan[12/6/2009 2:22:46 PM]
Steve - I canít say with any certainty what Tim knew or didnít know. But Iíd be surprised if he knew anything. Out on the golf circuit, at least, Tiger travels in a cocoon of security that is almost presidential. He doesnít hang out with anybody in the media. In more than 13 years out there, I never once saw Tiger in a restaurant or in a hotel. By contrast, it was not uncommon to walk into a workout room at a hotel and see Vijay or others. And youíd see plenty of other players, including stars, out with their families or with other players and caddies in restaurants. But not Tiger. Word was he didnít even hang with other players, choosing rent a house, away from the action and far from the course. After this whole thing broke, I talked with my golf writer buddies and we were all taken by surprise. I never had an inkling and neither did anybody else I talked to. One guy said that, for the first time, he heard idle whispers among the caddies at the British Open this year that something was going on. But that is not enough to base a story on. And I can tell you, no sports writer is going to do what the National Enquirer did, which is stake out Tiger with a video crew. Itís not the media I wonder about; itís Tigerís inner circle of agents, advisors and friends. Who among them suspected or knew, or even enabled him to do was he was doing. From everything Iíve read, it sure seems like he got careless, even reckless, toward the end.
Steve[12/6/2009 11:37:23 AM]
It looks like Rosaforte is covering the Q-School Tournament for Golf Channel. Amazing.
Steve[12/6/2009 9:49:43 AM]
I understand their awkwardness but their readers are turning elsewhere. As they say, they have no "street cred." What about Rosaforte? He must have known about Tigerís philandering. How could he have not? The National Enquirer did 2 years ago but buried the story in return for Tiger doing a cover and story for their Menís Health mag. Now, the National Enquirer, TMZ and Radar have "street cred" and GD/GW do not. They will be relegated to a mag like "Golf Tips." Iím going to watch the Eagles game now.
Joe Logan[12/6/2009 9:34:07 AM]
Golf Digest/Golf World are in a very awkward position. Not only is Tiger the engine that pulls golfís train, he has a contract with Golf Digest rumored to be in the $1 mil a year range, to do swing tips, etc. Itís no surprise that the most aggressive reporting and the worst revelations in all this have not come from the golf press but from the tabloids. This is their bread and butter, whereas it is way outside the comfort zone of most golf writers. Also, remember, once the dust settles and things get back to as normal as they can get, the tabloid reporters will have moved on to the next scandal, while the golf media will still be around covering golf and Tiger. If they destroy that relationship in the process of covering this scandal, it makes covering the rest of his golf career very difficult.
Steve[12/6/2009 9:20:22 AM]
Donít you think Golf Digest/Golf World have been missing in action on this one? Where has Tim Rosaforte been? They must be highly embarrassed about their current issue with a photoshop of Tiger and President Obama on the cover and the story- "What President Obama could learn from Tiger Woods- and vice-versa" Absolutely amazing. Perhaps theyíre coming out with a special edition. Even their "Local Knowledge" blog has been relatively silent. I think itís a case of journalism malpractice.

Finally. Thank you, Tiger
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Joe Logan

Finally.  Thank you, Tiger.

 

Thank you for looking your wife and the world in the eye and admitting, "Hey, I screwed up. I’m sorry."

 

No further details, no further discussion in public is needed.  Oh, yes, there will be plenty more discussion in the tabloids and on websites.  In fact, if it hasn’t already hit the newsstands, US Weekly is about to pile on with details of mistress No. 2 and talk of mistress No. 3.   Whatever.

 

For plenty of your fans, however, the admission you made today is enough to restore a modicum of faith in you as a man.  Time will tell whether you can remain a role model for the millions of kids around the world you have inspired.  What I do know is that as long as you stonewalled and remained silent in the face of all the mounting, incriminating and supremely embarrassing evidence, it was as if you were playing us for fools.

 

To err is human – and, man, oh, man, did you err – but to stonewall is to thumb your nose at anyone who might have it in their heart to forgive you.

 

Now, let’s hope you and your family, and your fans, can get on with the business of healing.

 

One final thing.  Everybody knew you were a player, but who knew you were a playa?  Where did you find the time and energy?  How did you stay on top of your game and on top of...ah, never mind.

 

Frankly, I’ve never been more impressed.


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The Tiger blacklash has officially begun
Monday, November 30, 2009
By Joe Logan

Tiger Woods might be stubborn and he might be arrogant, but he is not stupid.  Which makes it all the more dumbfounding what he is doing right now.

 

It’s one thing to cheat on your wife and make an ass of yourself doing it.  Whether it happened in this case, I have no idea.  But, hey, it happens -- it happens to ordinary people, big-time politicians, movie stars and rich, famous athletes.  The one constant is our demonstrated capacity to forgive and forget.

 

What people will not forgive and forget, however, is what Tiger seems to be doing now – thumbing his nose at the Florida cops, refusing to cooperate with their investigation, essentially telling them to read what he’s got to say on his website, like everybody else.

 

Bad, bad move.  His slick, high-priced lawyer might be advising Tiger that he has the legal right to do that, but he is doing himself a world of PR damage in the process, smearing his carefully constructed clean image.

 

When it comes to crisis management, PR consultants never waver in their advice: Get the bad news out there and out there quick, take your lumps, then move on.

 

In other words, make your screw-up a one-day or two-day story, whatever it is.  DO NOT let it play out like a slow-motion train wreck in the blood-thirsty, ravenous, circus-like media environment we live in these days.  Hey, they’ve time and space to fill and they will – with you or without you.

 

What Tiger is doing now makes him come off like he thinks he is above the law, answerable to no one -- not even to the cops -- immune to criticism and able to live quite comfortably, thank you, in the gilded cocoon he has constructed for himself.

 

Four days into this PR fiasco of his own making we are beginning to see a backlash, certainly in the general media, and now even among sports columnists, who in the past mostly heaved bouquets in Tiger’s direction.  Take a look here, here and especially here, a delicious screed in which Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post accuses him of acting like some kind of separate nation state, like the Vatican.   Of course, the longer Tiger stonewalls, the worse it will get.

 

In some ways, this backlash is not surprising.   From the earliest days of his career, Tiger let it be known that commanding respect and fear meant more to him than popularity.  Let Phil Mickelson be popular.

 

The result, as Tiger is now finding out, is that while we are all in awe of him and his golfing abilities, he hasn’t built up a reservoir of affection and goodwill. 

 

How ironic that in the brief statement Tiger did release, he felt the need to point out that he is not perfect.  Really?  Isn’t that precisely the image he has worked so hard to project for these years?

 

Personally, I hope this imbroglio does not turn out to be the undoing of Tiger.  He is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and not a bad guy at all who has a lot more career ahead of him.  Wouldn’t it be nice if he came to his senses, did the right thing, then got back to the business of rewriting golf’s record books.

 

Anyway, whatever he’s done, we’ll forgive.  We always do.

 

 

 

 


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