Why does the media loves Tiger Woods?
Tiger Woods is not to golf as Lance Armstrong was to cycling. This is largely due to the fact golf is a sport of skill, judgment, of eye, and of mind. Meanwhile, cycling is a sport of endurance, power, drugs, equipment, and if it comes to it, tactics. While golf can be enhanced with PEDs, doping is cycling’s life blood.
But as Lance “I never failed a drug test” Armstrong has faded from view, the media remains fixated on Tiger Woods despite the fact he’s far from being the same golfer he was in his pre-bimbo eruption days. Back in the pre-scandal days, Woods somehow managed to stare guys down and… they’d blink. Today, at least in the majors, it’s always Woods who blinks. Sometimes, he even seems to close his eyes.
But the media still has a Tiger Woods fixation and the evidence that Woods is still favored by the media is heard in their words. It’s never “Woods,” instead, it’s always “Tiger,” even when he’s playing like a dog. (A PGA dog, but still a dog.)
Phil Mickelson and perhaps Bubba Watson sometimes approach the exclusive first name usage, but never get all the way there like Tiger does. The networks cut to Woods even when he’s out of contention for one basic reason: he’s Tiger Woods, the former great who people remember as being great and who someday, some hope, might return to greatness.
So why is the media so hung up on Woods? There are multiple explanations, many of them interrelated and reinforcing. There’s the money, that is, the media’s rooting might be based on Woods’ success because he draw a ratings crowd; he’s the multiracial guy in a predominantly white sport; there’s the hero turned villain who lost it all angle (note: he didn’t lose it all) who is now clawing his way back to the top, except in majors; you also have the chase for Jack Nicklaus’ majors record storyline. Finally, don’t forget the money, the gigantic gamble Nike has made on promoting and riding their fallen star. (Fallen stars if you include Armstrong.)
Even though Woods remains undedicated to the gentlemanly aspects of golf (smashing clubs, cursing and tantrums, rulebook non-compliance), these things will fade from mind as he enters the twilight of his golfing career, that is, right now. Soon, he’ll be as beloved as Arnie and Jack themselves. Why? Because he was once Tiger Woods, that’s why.