This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
Truth be told, I didn't want to talk about Tiger today. As usual, there is a meaty array of sports subjects that would make fine fodder for commentary this week. But how can I just skip over the Tale of the Tiger and pretend the story doesn't continue to draw me in, draw you in? Dozens of texts to his various mistresses have now surfaced. The evidence is indisputable.
And now I've changed my tune since the story first emerged. It was only a week ago that I was claiming to have no moral judgment whatsoever in terms of his extramarital affairs. I boldly stated that the next time he strides down the 18th toward one of his brilliant finishes, the fact that I know he has been a liar and a cheat to his wife won't even enter my mind.
A week later, it's still not so much what vows between Tiger and his wife have been broken that sours me. That's private territory. But that privacy bleeds over into the credibility that has now been shattered between Tiger and us, his once-naïve fan base.
Among the upper echelon of athlete endorsers, and make no mistake that Tiger has breathed the highest stratosphere of that rarified air over recent years, pulling in $100 million per year, there is careful orchestration to make sure the stories created for us, the public, through the ad campaigns and the choices of products touted, match quite closely with the real persona. Joe Namath lounged around in panty hose with a wink in his eye and that image was 100% in line with the ultimate bachelor he really was. Magic Johnson's public presentation is a big, affable teddy bear who seems to love everybody and is himself universally loved and cares deeply about creating opportunities within the lower income populations of our inner cities…and we have repeated evidence that his private self quite closely matches that public image.
Tiger. What have we gleaned from the face, the word he has publicly offered? He's buttoned-down, conservative, confident, distinguished, and very much in control. He's a family man who relishes having his wife close by when he wins a big tournament, who sparkles when his two young children are in his arms, who chokes up when he talks about the life lessons of integrity passed on to him from his father. This secret person we are learning about, the one who chases porn stars and performs lewd acts in the back of his car with waitresses he just met minutes before, who carries on affairs with not one but many mistresses at one time, is too far a cry from the Tiger we have been presented all these years. We can't make the leap across the gaping chasm between these two characters, the public and the private Tigers.
The cry has emanated from far and wide this past week for Tiger to speak up, to own up. We seem to need and to want him to look us in the collective eye and tell us that he is mortified by his behavior, that his wife is too honorable a person to have been treated in this reprehensible manner, that he needs to get psychological help in analyzing why he has been driven by the need to keep a multitude of sexual partners in play at one time while married to a beautiful woman, his life partner, and the mother of his children.
The pundits surmise that this kind of direct confession will bring us back to him, will begin the healing process of our accepting his enormous mistakes as part and parcel of human frailty.
At this moment in time, it's pressing for me to imagine how extensive or how heartfelt an apology and an explanation from Tiger would have to be for me to follow him with interest or perhaps even root for him again. Whatever it was he used to sell, we're no longer buying.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.
Banner image: In this handout photo provided by The Florida Highway Patrol, the vehicle driven by Tiger Woods during his accident is seen on December 2, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Florida Highway Patrol via Getty Images