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Tiger shanked one into the woods the other day when he rammed his Cadillac into a tree. He has more repair work than his SUV. His health is OK. That’s good. It’s no big deal, right? Wrong. The speculation about conditions preceding the event has been a firestorm in public conversations. Some rumors I’ve heard are his wife chasing him with a nine iron, breaking glass in his escape vehicle, him driving barefoot, and the extramarital affairs with other women, Rachel Uchitel and Jamiee Grubbs. The interesting part for me is it comes down to character and how he responds to the present situation. Is he being honest?
This crash was a very minor mistake, considering his injuries weren’t severe. The Florida Highway Patrol gave him a careless driving charge, a $164 fine, and four points on his driving record. He’ll pay for a broken fire hydrant too. That penalty causes Tiger less damage than a bogey on a hole in one of his golf tournaments.
If this event happened to an ordinary citizen, small harm, no foul. But this didn’t happen to an ordinary citizen. It happened to Tiger Woods. The same guy that agreed to “I am Tiger” commercials on television, portraying him as a saint, and letting him collect millions upon millions of consumer dollars in endorsements from firms like Accenture, AT&T, EA Sports, Gatorade, Gillette, Nike, TAG Heuer, Dubailand, TLC Laser Eye Centers, Upper Deck, and the PGA Tour. EA Sports already said they’d stand by Tiger. Will someone stand up for disclosure and honesty?
Remember what McDonalds did when all-time Olympic gold medal winner, Michael Phelps was pictured in a compromising position? He owned his actions and we were part of it. Phelps’ mistake was in the kiddy pool, whereas Tiger’s is in the deep end. These companies would do well to make announcements on their position with their Tiger Woods sponsor agreements.
In Tiger’s case, Honesty will get him out of this mess. I believe the media is justified in asking “what happened?” In response, Tiger chooses to stonewall everybody. If he just answered the question to his fans, then it would have a chance to pass and we could get on with building for the future. Remember what David Letterman did shortly following his recent expose. Tiger should look to Mr. Letterman for clues on how to handle it.
In my conversations with family members this week, we discussed different aspects of Tiger Woods’ recent calamity. For me the issue is Honesty. I said that Tiger owes his public fan base an explanation. One of my sons agrees with me, the other said that Tiger’s family business is private if he wants it to be. Why am I making it an issue of Tiger being honest with his public fan base? He’s earned his sports hero status, but his fame and wealth came from us. This event doesn’t change his sports legend, but it does call into question for his sponsors and all of us, why do we hold him up as a model to aspire when the honesty is gone?