Why All the Venom Toward Woods


I thought about titling this weeks column, Why do we Love to Hate? And after giving it strong consideration I remembered something my parents told me long ago. Hate is an awfully strong word, they said.
So I didnt go with it. But I want this weeks words to act as a solicitation of your thoughts on this. (For whatever its worth, last week an overwhelming 85-plus percent of you strongly agreed with my take on the Champions Tour cart issue.)
Seriously, why is it that so many people who follow this game seem to have this harshly negative tone toward Tiger Woods?
Some, by comments I read and receive, actually come across as though theygulphate this guy and what he stands for.
Well, your arguments had better be good, because Im hardly buying the thought. Heres the list of most often stated commentary concerning Tiger.
1. Top of the list ' hes cocky, arrogant, distant and unconcerned about the paying customer who goes out to watch him play.
2. You guys in the media go gaga over this guy and I cant take it anymore!
3. He throws more clubs than a Las Vegas Black Jack dealer, and he gets away with it!
4. His on-course reactions include more foul language than Andrew Dice Clay in his heyday.
5. Hes hardly a role model for kids because of his on-course behavior.
6. Hes not the best, and never will be.
7. His likeness dominates the television screen every time he plays. Arent there any other players playing?!
I could go on, but you get the point.
Now, here is mine: Like it or not, hes the Worlds No. 1 ranked player. He got there by dominating the PGA Tour over a period of time and though hes not presently at the same level, hes still the most talented, most intimidating and most skilled player in the game. So APPRECIATE the talent he has, dont take out your frustration over network coverage being overwhelmingly SLANTED his way, and be glad that the game WE love has an athlete of his caliber playing it.
As for my belief that there is indeed a thread of hatred toward what Woods stands for and also a true enjoyment gained (by some) from his recent struggles, I believe I know where it comes from.
Follow me on this: Sports fans in general love to hate the perceived very best at anything. Some feel as though it is ones civic duty to root strongly against those who are at the top. Dont they?
For example; non-NY Yankee fans gloat when Steinbrenners money doesnt buy a World Series ring. For all his stats, Barry Bonds has more detractors than supporters. John McEnroe was the tennis lightning rod for years. He was looked at as a brat - seemingly despised, despite his enormous talent and record. The Dallas Cowboys were designated as Americas Team for years despite the widespread belief that 49 states in America disagreed with everything they stood for.
Maybe Im wired the wrong way, but as a Chicago native who grew up with a love for the White Sox ' I actually root for the Cubs too! Always have. So in that sense, if you love Davis Love or Mike Weir (not hard to do), cant you also appreciate the man they are trying to supplant at the top of the World Golf Ranking? I dont think we rooted extra hard against Alydar when Affirmed was the horse folks found so perfect.
Like him or not, Tiger Woods is the establishment. He drives the PGA Tours bus. He drives ratings for the networks, and even if his drives arent finding the fairways, he drives folks out to the tournament to watch him play.
So dont blame HIM for being shown on seemingly every shot. Dont abuse HIM for a $2 million dollar overseas appearance fee. Dont carve HIM up for every week that he stays at No. 1 in the world. Hes just doing what he does for a living (damn good one) and he only tees it up about 18 times a year anyway. Thats 34 weeks left for television domination by Heath Slocum, Todd Hamilton and Craig Parry among others.
Know this: I, for one, do not put Tiger at the top of my personal rooting favorites list. But I appreciate the heck out of his ability. I cant think of a time when hes ever intentionally shown me a lack of respect personally or professionally. And I do admit to getting enthused when hes at his best.
Recently, in a brief conversation, I told him that I hoped hed get back his A game. I told him that I felt the game is far better when hes at the top of his trade. And I told him that I felt that the likes of Vijay, Ernie, Phil, Davis and Mike Weir would feel even greater about their current accomplishments if those accomplishments were to come while Woods was playing his best golf. You can call that fawning if you like, but I call it understanding whats best for the current state of our sport and understanding how guys like Weir and Love can become even bigger than they are right now.
So, here's message to all you Tiger Trashers, and folks who cant stand the thought of Tiger Tuesdays despite a very strong viewer rating. Try a new approach. Take it easy on greatness, and find a way to appreciate it for what it is. Find reason to applaud the man. After all ' every time television shows a shot of his gallery ' you ARE THERE instead of somewhere else on the course.
And if, for whatever reason, you cant get past the venom and the hate, sell me on your reasons why. Believe it or not, some of us media types are not a closed shop.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann