Tigers Time to Talk


It was a lousy week to watch golf.

You couldn’t get away from the dark cloud over the game.

When you were tuned in to the Chevron World Challenge, you were reminded of Tiger Woods, who skipped the event in the wake of his accident and the intense interest in the “transgressions” and “personal sins” that are widely speculated to have led to the mishap.

If you switched channels, there was the danger the cloud would find you.

There were scrolling Tiger updates on the sports channels, but this story was everywhere, from NBC to E! television. 'Saturday Night Live' poked fun at Woods in a skit. George Lopez on 'Lopez Tonight 'on TBS introduced his new Tiger Woods (butt-) kicking Trophy Barbie doll. Conan O’Brien aired a spoofed version of an “updated” Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour ’10 video game on NBC’s 'Tonight Show' in which a blonde woman races into traffic screaming “Where is Tiger?” as she smashes cars with a golf club. On ABC’s 'Jimmy Kimmel Live,' Kimmel ventured into a barbershop where patrons made fun of what they thought really caused Woods’ accident. Comedienne Wanda Sykes weighed in on her show on Fox.

If you were at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ victory against the Houston Texans Sunday, you couldn’t escape, either. During a timeout, a blonde woman wielding a golf club chased after a costumed tiger that was wearing a red shirt and a golf cap.

Jokes are all over the Internet.

The story is out of control.

It has spiraled beyond the golf world and the supermarket tabloids. Analysts debated the wisdom of Woods’ media strategy on 'Hardball with Chris Matthews.' Nancy Grace dived into the story on her show on CNN’s Headlines News network.

This wildfire isn’t dying down, fueled by the threat of expanding chapters in the tabloid chase to fill out details Woods won't.

It’s a dirty story, and there’s no way to touch the story without feeling like some of the dirt’s rubbing off on you. At the same time, it’s impossible to ignore because it’s pervaded nearly every dimension of our culture.

That’s the dilemma golf writers face right now. This is about so much more than golf.

There’s the element of the story that’s all about the worst of our nature, our fascination with gossip. There’s the distasteful knowledge that certain news outlets at the front of the story are digging into Woods’ private life as much for sport as profit with truth a distant third in the motivational equation. There’s the disconcerting feeling that so many of us in the golf world were enablers, guilty of helping create a false image of Woods.

There are legitimate issues emanating from all of this. There’s philosophical debate about privacy and moral issues. There’s the impact the story’s fallout is having on the ancient game, the ramifications it could have in the future.

This story so pervades the landscape that it’s being discussed on Christian radio. David Wheaton spent an hour on Saturday talking about it on his 'Christian Worldview Radio' program. The show was about “What we all need to learn from Tiger Woods.”

Everyone, it seems, is talking about Woods except the man himself.

There’s no telling what’s going on in Woods’ family now, what time he needs to make things right now that he’s admitted “transgressions.” There’s no telling what his wife, Elin, is going through with the couple’s two small children.

It’s an awful private/public predicament Woods finds himself in, but ultimately it’s one of his own making.

What the story needs is what it’s lacking most. It needs Woods out front.

The story needs to find its bottom. It needs to find its bottom so we can all rise out of this mess. That doesn’t mean we need all the grisly details. It means, though, we need a measure of honesty.

We need Woods to take us to the bottom of this story and lead us out of it.

Whether Woods likes it or not, this story appears as if it will rage until he steps up and addresses the matter publicly, or until the more unsavory media outlets of the world find somebody else to destroy.