The Two Worlds of Tiger Collide

By Dr. Deborah Stroman, Ph.D
Updated: February 23, 2010

NORTH CAROLINA — On this past Friday at 11 a.m. EST, most of America stood still. Not for health care reform, terrorist declarations or even the death of a dignitary.

Tiger Woods spoke directly to us as he took the microphone for the first time since his car accident on Thanksgiving and we listened. Although most Americans appear to have heard an authentic man at his lowest point requesting our help, there are some who still question the motives and heart of the world’s No. 1 golfer.

As someone who attempts to put my faith into action, I have ceased the Tiger analysis and will do this one thing that the man who has changed the face of golf (and the sport industry) asked — to try to believe in him again.

Jonathan Bernstein, a respected public relations expert, states that “during a crisis, effective spokespersons must, primarily through their non-verbal cues, leave their audiences with the impression that they are: confident, competent, and compassionate.

Leaving the commentary of the facial and body analysis experts aside, Tiger’s written words were heartfelt and delivered with sincerity.

Can you truly imagine having committed the most sex-related “irresponsible and selfish behavior” against someone you love and then having to face your closest friends and colleagues (and the world) to ask for their forgiveness?

Tiger just can’t win in this regard.

If he appears confident and secure in his message by reading his statement, then one can interpret him as being arrogant and cocky. If he expresses a clear understanding of his wrongdoings and their implications, then he can be viewed as a proud man, fearless of advice and guidance.

Lastly, the compassion-less Tiger who won’t shed a tear or breakdown is only putting on a show to impress his fans and sponsors. The apology becomes a cloak for his need to keep million dollar contracts intact.

Why didn’t you go impromptu with just bullet points? Why didn’t you cry?

So why even bother at all Tiger? You don’t need any more money or applause.

You can go chase majors without standing in front of a podium knowing very well that the media vultures want to make your life theirs. In fact, you would play the game of your youth for free without a foursome.

You have close friends and family who will stand by your side regardless of your golf acumen and proficiency.

Why come before the world to risk more attacks, innuendos, and gossip?

Tiger took the risk because he can no longer separate Tiger, the man from Tiger, the brand.

Tiger the man, not unlike most high-powered celebrities, has tried to keep his personal life away from the public persona. In his press conference he stated that he “always tried to be a private person.”

He loves to practice and play golf.

He has youthful interests and loves working with children. He only trusts a small circle of friends. Tiger the brand invaded Tiger the man’s controlling and secretive lifestyle though.

This boldness and egotism designed by external forces for life outside of the greens finally caught up with him and he had no choice but to face his wife and explain the trail of transgressions.

Tiger the brand was probably not created by this private Tiger.

Tiger the man spent too many hours on the golf course mastering his swing to invent this fun-loving, gregarious, fashion-conscious, and hot ladies’ man. His father, the media, and the sponsors needed a role model and idol — someone that could change America.

Tiger the brand was developed with much thought in corporate laboratories to inspire all people, regardless of race, religion, age or gender to get fit, play golf, and indulge in the numerous product offerings affiliated with Tiger.

Tiger the brand is money.

This brand was designed and manufactured to help sport economics by creating jobs in sport journalism, television, golf equipment, golf apparel, and business services.

The more we see of Tiger the brand, the more dollars pass through the economy. Tiger the brand became such a major asset to the sport world that this talent became influential in politics and money matters.

(Note: Pres. Obama’s request for his appearance while campaigning and at the Inauguration. Also, the Nielson ratings drop over 50% when Tiger does not play in a televised tournament.)

When the tabloids announced the brewing scandal and further scrutiny proved true, Tiger the man met Tiger the brand. His personal pain became ours. Many fans are disappointed by Tiger’s humanness.

This sentiment makes sense and is very valid. Tiger the brand invaded our homes as he pitched products that we believe represent wholesomeness, integrity, good health, and quality. We didn’t see Tiger the man every day at the golf course.

We saw Tiger the brand, the idol. We purchased Tiger the brand golf clubs, watches, hats, shirts, and even drank his sport drink. However, when the idol fell, we collectively gasped and castigated Tiger the man.

No longer did we see a man that had lost his father and quite possibly his way. We didn’t ask him how his religion influenced his golf play. Truth be told, we didn’t notice or really care that he had actually lost his faith and was now serving false gods.

We didn’t ask Tiger the man about his associates and in particular, two seemingly close relationships with older former NBA stars that have a public track record of womanizing. We didn’t ask Tiger about the pressures that all young couples experience coupled with his demanding profession.

And most importantly, we didn’t care how an only child born of a mixed marriage was processing race in America and its effects on his billion-dollar empire. We didn’t ask because Tiger the brand was impenetrable and in control.

The two worlds have now collided and Tiger the man has asked us to be patient and wait for Tiger the brand to make a comeback.

We need no more explanations and apologies.

Tiger the man has told us that he has let us down. He stated that he is sorry. He says he knows that he needs help. His strength of recovery lies in his family, golf clubs, and will.

His earnest plea is for his fans, and his fans alone, to “find room in your hearts to one day believe in me again.” For all that we have learned over the nearly past three months, surely we can take a break from the Tiger news and let him heal.

Let’s be real Americans and support the underdog. We can cheer on Tiger the man, his marriage, and his revival. His track record to overcome and beat the odds is very favorable.

This situation is new territory for Tiger the man, but I will not count him out.

The PGA desperately needs this golf prodigy to pay bills and keep our attention, and we need his smile and impact. Yes, much will change when Tiger the brand comes back to the golf world. Sure, he will win majors and secure sponsorships. However, the one welcome change will be the transparent golf star.

This time around, Tiger the man will know, manage, and define Tiger the brand.