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.
Tiger Woods fails to comply with the rules of golf (that’s code for he cheated). Then Woods signs his score card, misrepresenting his actions.
Normally—if the rules of golf were observed—Woods would be DQ’d. Instead he’s given mercy by the rules committee types at Augusta: a two-stroke penalty.
As such, the PGA Tour and the Masters have proven themselves to be just like the NCAA. That is, they’re all about the money while providing lip-service to all sorts of altruistic pap.
Woods, of course, translates to eyeballs for CBS; eyeballs translate back to the funding CBS pays to broadcast the Masters.
Think this would have happened to the low amateur? And how is the ruling fair to the other competitors who are all trying to do what Woods is trying to do, to win a golf tournament?
Some woolly-headed thinker say, “It’s only cheating if there’s intent.” I say that sounds like an excuse Bill Clinton would offer. Ask the IRS if they view it that way, if alleged ignorance is an excuse. Woods admitted on television to what he did.
So, can we please stop pretending this isn’t all about the money?
Now that Lance Armstrong has confessed to what we’ve all known for some time, I’m ready for the next round of PED revelations. Such revelations could come from outside cycling and from sports requiring (merely) endurance, pain-tolerance, and anaerobic power, and might even include sports where mental focus can be pharmaceutically enhanced.
Like golf… maybe.
Rachel Uchitel, 34, told friends that she and Woods took the sleeping pill Ambien before having sex, according to a U.S. website.
‘You know you have crazier sex on Ambien – you get into that Ambien haze,’ she is quoted as saying. ‘We have crazy Ambien sex.’
Beyond Ambien, there’s this (rhetorically offered from a Woods-PED naysayer):
His [Woods’s] association with Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea, who was indicted last October on federal charges of smuggling human growth hormone and other illegal substances into the U.S. and lying to border patrol agents … his waxed and buffed physique … his cluster of injuries … his well-documented marital infidelity. You have to work at it, but you can connect the dots.
Beyond all these things, what if Woods could get a drug which increased his focus like Adderall and/or Ritalin? Is that considered an illegal PED? (And complicating things more, what if he had a prescription? After all, if Woods has access to Ambien—we’ll assume it’s via a legal prescription—is an Adderall and/or Ritalin prescription somehow out of the question?)
However, if Woods is guilty of PED use, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. His circle of courtiers is smaller and tighter than even Lance Armstrong’s and there’s no team in golf as there is in cycling. That and the fact Woods’s best days as a sports celebrity and golfer—drug enhanced or not—are far behind him mean it’s unlikely any PED use will ever come to light.
But it is an interesting topic.
Our most cocooned and brittle athlete?
The most cocooned and brittle golfer?
The most cocooned and brittle American?
Laugh your guts out at this howler: Tiger Woods almost quit golf to become Navy SEAL.
That’s as believable as Tom Cruise almost quit acting to become a nuclear physicist.
The most heinous quote from the above link comes from Woods’ former coach (and it would appear, current sycophant) Hank Haney.
I thought, Wow, here is Tiger Woods, greatest athlete on the planet, maybe the greatest athlete ever, right in the middle of his prime, basically ready to leave it all behind for a military life.
Mr. Haney, please (and by the way, are you the Mr. Haney from Green Acres?): jokes are supposed to be funny.
Greatest athlete on the planet? Greatest athlete ever?! Woods is the 21st rated golfer in the world today (and with a bullet going the wrong way at that). Are you really a clandestine Nike publicist working at the gum-free Nike campus?
A better, but more wordy, headline would read Tiger Woods Fantasized About Being a Navy SEAL, Thought Better and Kept the Good Life.