Men, Tiger and Tabloid News
I didn't think we'd still be talking about Tiger Woods, but his tale grows longer.
We've had bigger tabloid stories—Monica Lewinsky, Michael Jackson, Brangelina. We've seen athletes accused or convicted of far worse offenses—Pete Rose, Michael Vick, O.J. Simpson. But I can't recall a personality-driven story which has captivated and divided men as much as this one has.
Men who wouldn't be caught dead reading the National Enquirer can't get enough of the Tiger story. Wall Street traders Tweet about Woods and then complain about bank oversight in the next sentence. Male friends on my Facebook page faced off this weekend when I posed this question: "How many alleged mistresses have to come forward before Accenture and ATT invoke the moral turpitude clauses in their contract with Tiger?"
"There is a sliding scale for depravity based on net worth...leave this to the analysts," wrote one male friend.
"So far as I know, adultery, to say nothing of 'alleged' adultery, is still legal in the People's Republic of the U.S.A.," shot back another. "Why wouldn't his sponsors stick by the world's greatest golfer selling products related to golf and sports? I don't recall such a fuss over pedophile rapist Polanski, or serial adulterer-at-workplace-with-subordinates Letterman. Anyone yapping about CBS 'standing by' their man?"
That was followed by friend #1 writing, "At the crucial moment Letterman showed some moral resolve and owned up to his ethical blunders. Even now, Cheetah Woods blames the media on his...he's got work to do repairing his image...and the image is what the sponsors buy, not his ability."
"It's perfectly acceptable for a boss in the workplace to habitually, routinely have adulterous sex with his subordinates which may intimidate them as long as he makes a joke of it on national TV during his monologue," came the response from male friend #2, "while a professional athlete who has reached the pinnacle of success in his field by doing what he does best, who in effect says 'please leave me alone - this is my business', is the subject of ridicule, denunciation, and accusations of low moral character. What a load of BS."
It continued, but you get the picture.
Naturally, late night comics and SNL are using the Woods saga as fodder—including this popular YouTube video turning his alleged voicemail message to an alleged mistress into an R&B song.
But new players are jumping in. Crunch Gear, a gadget Web site catering to a mostly male crowd, released an article called, "So You Cheated, Now What?"
"Tips" include how to fool Caller ID, change your Facebook settings to hide compromising photos of yourself, or avoid GPS tracking devices. Funny business, indeed.
Why this reaction by men to one more fallen hero? Is it because Woods stands alone as the best of the best, and if the allegations are true, how did he ever have the energy to play golf so well?
Are men fascinated because this is golf, which is supposed to be classy, and cocktail hostesses and flapjack waitresses don't generally fall into that category? Is it because he was the man who had everything, but it still wasn't enough? What would Earl say?
Still, somehow, miraculously, men carry on. Yesterday, thanks to a friend, I got passes to Woods' golf tournament in Thousand Oaks. There were posters of Tiger at the entrance, but, once inside, it's as if he didn't exist. On a beautiful course, 18 of golf's best players moved among a gallery intentionally kept small. On the 12th tee, I watched with only three other people as Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, and Lucas Glover teed off just a few feet away. And while a few men here might have wished they could see Tiger, there is another golf draw on the horizon. Camilo Villegas was followed by a group of adoring females from hole to hole. He even shot a double eagle. Tiger who?
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