The impossible has happened. One of the few famous sports stars left with a clean, moral reputation and the image of a happy, successful family man, succumbed to the temptations of the flesh and admitted to multiple infidelities with various women over an extended period of time. The repercussions throughout the business and sports world are almost the equivalent of an 8.0 level earthquake in the middle of California. Something that will leave a path of destruction for many years to come.
After an inexplicable incident at the end of November with his own car outside his own house in the early hours one morning, the tabloids start to leak stories of more than one affair and by the time it is finished Tiger issues a statement admitting to his multiple “transgressions”. The bombshell was that this was a series of extramarital affairs over an extended period of time and the first question that came to mind was; how did he manage to keep these adulterous adventures under wraps for so long? Where were the paparazzi all this time? Asleep or being paid off?
The number of adulteresses at the writing of this article has risen to 15 and counting. This probably means that Tiger has even been unfaithful to a number of his own mistresses! So the question has to be asked; how could this happen to that clean-cut, professional phenomenon that has become a legend in his own lifetime and whose image attracted sponsorships from some of the most respected companies in Corporate America? Will he ever recover from this personally and professionally? Will his image ever get back to par?
There are three parts to this question: his family life, his sponsorships, his ability to play golf. Tiger has already declared that his family life takes precedence over everything else and he has quit playing professional golf “indefinitely”. But how does Elin, his wife, forget her spouse has slept with somewhere between 10 – 20 other women during their marriage? Some of his sponsors have already either canceled their contract with Tiger or declared their doubts about his carrying their banner. Can you blame them? But the big question for most of us is will he ever return to golf tournaments and if he does, will he win?
It has been reported that his wife, Elin, has said he must now choose between his family and golf. For someone who has been eating, sleeping and breathing golf every day since he was four years old, that choice is going to be tough and will the marriage survive that? If he ultimately gets back on the golf course it is going to be a totally different experience for everyone. This has changed a lot of things. PGA revenues will be down, TV ratings and audiences will be down as well as advertising revenues. He has disappointed millions of fans including children that looked up to him as a role model. The competitive nature of the very game of golf will have changed. There will be no Tiger to chase or to measure others against.
In the one sport with an unwritten etiquette of respect for the players, things have changed. If Tiger ever tees off again, will the crowd continue be as silent out of respect. Or will someone in the crowd shout out “did you sleep well last night?” in the middle of his swing? Or “do you prefer blonds or brunettes?” If he returns, we know this is going to happen but will he be able to take it and still hit the heights of his game before the downfall? Or will his “new image” be a crowd puller and other sponsors appear that could benefit from the new look? Perhaps Viagra could replace Accenture or maybe he will appear more often in the centre spread of Playboy than Golf Digest. Knowing capitalism, there will be a way Corporate America capitalizes on Tiger’s demise.
Most fallen stars do come back to their sport so let’s hope Tiger gets through his personal issues so he can return to the world stage. This incident just proves that nobody is perfect and teaches us the same old lesson; if you are conducting yourself in a way that could spark a controversy, then it definitely will. It seems that sport stars and politicians believe they are invincible and yet with the paparazzi and tabloids chasing them everywhere, you would think they would show more restraint or at least be more careful. In Tiger’s case one thing is guaranteed: his autobiography will be a best seller!