The ‘New’ Tiger

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor
Updated: November 20, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — This past week, Tiger Woods wrote an essay for Newsweek apologizing for his behavior over the past year. Well, it’s not as if Tiger only misbehaved in the last 12 months, but that was when his interesting lifestyle was revealed to the American public. In addition to his essay for Newsweek, Woods also did a well-staged interview with the show “Mike & Mike” on ESPN radio. During the interview, it was agreed that Tiger would not be asked about his divorce from Elin Nordegren or the car accident last year that left everyone suspicious. Apparently, Team Tiger is back in full effect, putting on a media blitz like no other. Call me a cynic, but I fully suspect that the team is hoping that revamping Tiger’s image will compensate for the fact that he is no longer the greatest golfer in the history of the world. Well actually, he’s not even the greatest golfer in the world anymore after losing his number one world ranking. When he’s no longer one of the greatest athletes on the planet, the world can only think of Tiger Woods as a self-professed adulterous sex addict. That kind of image doesn’t exactly sell video games at Christmas. Tiger remains highly paid in large part because he is the signature brand for Nike, EA Sports and other corporations. Nike needs Tiger to be loved in order for his golf clubs to sell. EA Sports can’t sell video games without him. Corporate America needs his image to be restored for their business models to start working again. This campaign simply had to happen. In his essay for Newsweek, Tiger had this to say: “The physical pain from that car accident has long healed. But the pain in my soul is more complex and unsettling; it has been far more difficult to ease-and to understand. But this much is obvious now: my life was out of balance, and my priorities were out of order. I made terrible choices and repeated mistakes. I hurt the people whom I loved the most. And even beyond accepting the consequences and responsibility, there is the ongoing struggle to learn from my failings.” Here’s the Dr. Boyce Watkins translation of Tiger Woods’ words: “What I am doing here is admitting that I am as flawed as you are. Studies show that the American public is very forgiving. So, by telling you that I’m really sorry and that I’ve changed, you’ll all go out and buy my video game again and love me as if I never led a double life. Of course this doesn’t guarantee that I will stop living a double life. It only serves to imply that the next time around, I’ll make sure my double life doesn’t get exposed. We all learn from our mistakes, and my biggest mistake was not keeping my mistresses on payroll so they would be quiet.” Also in the essay, Woods goes on to say the following: “Slowly, I’m regaining the balance that I’d lost. My healing process is far from complete, but I am beginning to appreciate things I had overlooked before. I’m learning that some victories can mean smiles, not trophies, and that life’s most ordinary events can bring joy. Giving my son, Charlie, a bath, for example, beats chipping another bucket of balls. Making mac and cheese for him and his sister, Sam, is better than dining in any restaurant. Sharing a laugh watching cartoons or reading a book beats channel-surfing alone. Some nights now, it’s just me and the kids, an experience that’s both trying and rewarding. Probably like the experience a lot of families have every evening around the world.” Here’s the translation of the second part of the essay: “Studies also show that America is more likely to buy products from a family man. So, in order to contrast the image you have of me as a free-wheeling bachelor who loves to date porn stars, I want you to believe that I’m really just like you. Like yourself, I love my kids and make mac and cheese for them. That makes me likable enough for you to buy my video games for your own kids.” Tiger’s dad Earl gave him some great advice before he died. Earl told Tiger that if he simply ensures that the ball gets in the hole, many of his problems would be solved. I agree with Earl on this matter, that as long as Tiger isn’t playing well, he’s going to have trouble on Madison Avenue. At the same time, his marketing team is right to push his brand in this way, especially given that Christmas is right around the corner.

If Nike and EA Sports achieve their collective goal, “Tiger Woods The Family Guy” will be a Christmas favorite, and highly contrived publicity stunts like this one are exactly what they need in order to get the job done. The stunt appears to be working, as the world is already responding to what the media defines to be “The new Tiger Woods.”

Personally, I’d rather see Tiger practice more consistently and get his game back. But then again, that’s easy for me to say, since it’s easier said than done.