Analysis: Golf without Tiger
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Todays surprising news was that Tiger is out 4-6 weeks after a third arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The whole golf tour and industry is panicking about this news in light of potential lost interest of the public and lost revenues for golf. While I understand the panic, I cant help but wax a little analytical about this reaction of the golf market.
No one can take away from the obvious talent, dedication and success of Tiger with his domination of the sport these past years. He has been exciting to watch, is doing some good things with some of his money, and has definitely brought the sport to the mind and reality of previously disenfranchised demographics.
All that being said, I have been continually critical and concerned about how our media...and culture at large...creates hero worship around the images of these talents and often hold them up for unrealistic expectations and scrutiny by the world. I do credit Tiger at staying so consistent in his game while being so much in the limelight and adulation of the masses. If he was a politician, he would probably come off more like a demagogue than a golfer. But, he so far seems to stay true to himself and his passion for golf and his family around him. Thats a good thing.
On the other hand, we know no one is perfect. I have always said that if you want to know the real content of a person's character, play golf or poker with them consistently and you will see their character revealed:). Tiger is quite vocal at times at his game...and OF the game overall sometimes. He reacts and swears from time to time stongly...on camera...in ways that I never remember seeing Nicklaur or Palmer do. Golf has become a less "gentlemenly" sport than it used to be. And less elitest as well...so maybe thats not all bad. But...I do miss the "decorem" and class of the sport of the old days. You didnt have players playing to the camera and doing whatever they could to enhance their images so their endorsement fees would go up another million or so per year. Golf is now BIG business, and the purses, like in all major sports, have skyrocketed to what could be termed ridiculous proportions.
I do see a "silver lining" in this absence of Tiger. The media and the industry overall will now have to focus and market NEW heros. There are great players besides Tiger on the tour who get little or no publicity. There are great shots every weekend on the tour that we the public never see because the focus is so much on the "product image" of Tiger...even when he is way behind in the tournament. Is that the fault of the media, or the fans? Do the fans not care about the other players, or is the media just tainting the picture a bit for the market? I hope for the sake of golf that they can show balance in coverage going forward, and this in turn may even make the other players play BETTER, or believe more in themselves because they are getting equal coverage. Its amazing what people and players can step up to when they are put on the line...and this will be good for golf.