Golf

Tiger's real crime? Not playing the media's game

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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You lied to yourself. Tiger Woods never feigned perfection on or off the Golf course. He demanded privacy. He refused to bow to the whims and desires of the media. The latter is the crime he is paying for today. His "mistreatment" of the media is fueling the hysteria over his private transgressions and the casting of Woods as the second coming of Barry Bonds, an arrogant, insufferable jerk unworthy of his perch atop the sports world. Yes, the greatest golfer of all time made the same mistake as the greatest slugger: Tiger failed to show the proper amount of deference to the mainstream media. I have no gripe with the blogs and the gossip rags. Paying for and printing gossip for profit is what they do. The tabloids prey on the rich and famous. TMZ, Us Weekly and the National Enquirer are not lying to their readership that they're going after Tiger because he's a role model, a teacher or a squeaky-clean product pitchman. They're making it rain on bim-hos solely for profit and titillation. I respect that. They're journalistic strippers shaking their moneymakers. I'll gladly tuck a dollar in Us Weekly's g-string and the National Enquirer can join me in the champagne room for the next song. My problem is with the ax-grinding alleged journalists who are pretending Tiger has committed some crime against humanity and/or exposed himself as a fraud, less fit to shill for AT&T, American Express or Nike. These hypocrites want a level of transparency from a golfer they don't remotely approach as journalists.
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You don't really believe all the mainstream-media righteous indignation and cries for a detailed explanation of Tiger's Thanksgiving-night driving are because the media suspected Tiger committed a serious crime? No, you don't. Tiger's critics — read them here, here, here, here, here, here and here — want the man publicly flogged and embarrassed, and they want him to beg the media to fix his public-relations problem. More than anything, the media, especially the print media, want to be needed. We're an insecure lot, dealing with festering childhood insecurities about popularity and sexuality. If you're offended by that statement, you're exactly who I'm talking about. I wish I had the time to individually dissect the disingenuous ramblings of Rick Reilly, Sally Jenkins, Jay Mariotti, Mike Lupica and all the rest. But I don't. I will, however, make time for Charlie Pierce, the acclaimed sports writer who began his pursuit of Tiger in 1997 and returned this week to gloat about it at Esquire.com. Pierce, if you remember, is the writer who made national headlines in 1997 by getting the then-21-year-old Woods to consent to an interview and building a story around hilarious and immature jokes cracked by Woods and Tiger-is-a-messiah hyperbole spewed by Earl Woods. Pierce's latest offering is an I-told-you-so column. He rages that Tiger's puritan image is phony and points out that he wrote in great detail in 1997 that Woods was a scandalous, tail-chasing hound. I don't know how many rich, famous and good-looking 21-year-old athletes/men Charlie Pierce has interviewed. The ones I've met have all been scandalous, tail-chasing hounds. No different from the frat boys I met in college or the corner boys hustling on the block. What sports world has Charlie Pierce been covering? The Tim Tebows are a rarity. Athletes — male and female — are, generally speaking, some of the most sexually aggressive people on the planet. They have perfectly sculpted bodies they love to show off. They have a self-confidence about their sexuality non-athletes generally don't have. But this is deeper than just athletes. Has Pierce ever spent time at a wealthy golf country club? Men (and women) with money are, generally speaking, the second-most sexually aggressive people on the planet. Who the hell does Pierce thinks flies women like Rachel Uchitel around the globe to party? Tiger, like all men and women, needs to be judged by his peers, not angry, 60-year-old virgins. Pierce should've opened his column by admitting he dislikes Woods and his opinion is skewed by that bias. We're journalists. We're supposed to be transparent. Two weeks ago on Deadspin, Pierce trashed Bill Simmons and his New York Times-bestselling book. In that hit piece, Pierce failed to mention that he tried to befriend and mentor Simmons at the beginning of the decade and that in 2002 Simmons told Pierce to go (expletive) himself. That little nugget of information would've been very enlightening when reading Pierce's Deadspin take. I'm sharing this because it's important for the public to know that the media act dishonestly all the time. We're far more phony than Tiger Woods ever could be. Let me give you another example. Reilly, the millionaire columnist for ESPN, wrote a damning piece for Sports Illustrated in 2004 about then-Colorado football coach Gary Barnett and a female kicker who claimed she was raped by a couple of her teammates. Reilly blasted Barnett, saying the coach didn't properly monitor the more than 100 players on his team. Reilly never mentioned that just weeks before police investigated a sexual-assault allegation that stemmed from a high school party at Reilly's Denver home. Reilly was not at home at the time. But his children allegedly hosted a party at his home and a 14-year-old girl claimed she was assaulted by two high school football players. This is the moral high horse Tiger's critics ride on. These are the people shouting on TV and whining in print that Tiger, in his last public statement, had the audacity to mildly criticize the way the mainstream media handled this controversy. And Tiger never lied to us. Oh, he might have lied to himself, his wife and his kids. But he never lied to the public. From what little we know about Woods, his running buddies off the course are Jordan, Barkley and Ken Griffey Jr. You know what they say about birds, feathers and flocks. If you saw me at a strip club with Ronald McDonald, would you be shocked to see me at a drive-thru ordering a Big Mac at 3 a.m? Hell, no. So why are we feigning shock that Tiger likes side dishes? Jordan and Barkley don't? PGA stands for Pussy Galore Association. The media are lying to you. They won't tell you their real agenda. This isn't about Tiger being a spokesman for major companies. He replaced Michael Jordan as the top product pitchman because he's the greatest golf champion we've ever seen. If a squeaky image led to endorsements, Billy Graham, TD Jakes and The Pope would all be pushing Tide, Gatorade, Crest and gym shoes. The same clowns promoting the Tiger-image theory would tell you that Allen Iverson won endorsements with his bad-boy image. People are attracted to greatness, and they'll enthusiastically embrace it as long as the owner of the great skill doesn't commit a heinous criminal act.

 

The worst anti-Tiger argument being made is the one about Tiger disrespecting the police by refusing to be interviewed. This is Sally Jenkins' pathetic argument in the Washington Post. Newspapers are supposed to be the watchdogs of democracy. Journalists should know what separates us from the oppressive countries/governments we invade and/or despise. We're not a police state. We have a right to remain silent. We have the freedom to avoid self-incrimination and/or incriminating our spouse. We have teenage boys and girls dying in foreign countries just so the police can't barge through our doors, detain us and force us to talk. But Tiger is evil for exercising the most fundamental right we enjoy? He's stupid because he wants to deal with his marital problems in private? He owes the public an apology for promises he broke to his wife? This is all a bad joke. This whole affair highlights why the mainstream media have lost the public's trust. We don't deserve it. We're controlled by hidden agendas. Tiger won't invite us to his private party. And now that we've been given this slight opening, we're going to try to convince you that he's a horrible person, morally unfit to wear Jack Nicklaus' crown. You can e-mail Jason at BallState0@aol.com or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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