Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Americans secretly love the Tigerization of sports

I rejoined the blogosphere close to three weeks after this Tiger scandal hit, but guess what? Twenty days after the world's famous golfer crashed into a fire hydrant outside his home and two weeks after he admitted to "transgressions" in his personal life, the story is still in the news everyday.

As a single male who feels he thinks about things in a reasonably rational manner, watching this whole ordeal unfold has been extremely uncomfortable (and I say this as a writer who recently wrote an entire feature whose main storyline was about someone else's private life). Not uncomfortable because I don't think the media should be prying into this. Uncomfortable because deep down inside, I question whether any person put in Tiger's shoes would be able to resist that kind of temptation.

But as a man, especially around women, you just can't say that. It downgrades the male race in their eyes and just makes you look bad. The double edged sword here is that if you take the high road, ultimately you're just asking to look like a hypocrite. Call me crazy, but I refuse to be naive to the fact that a good amount of people (and by a good amount of people, I mean people from all walks of life, no matter the education or tax bracket) cheat. Passing judgment on them would mean passing judgment on many who shouldn't be thought of as bad people. Weak willed, maybe. But not bad or mean spirited.

There's a reasoned explanation of how I feel. Here's a semi-ridiculous, yet shockingly refreshing and entertaining response Clinton Portis had earlier this week on his weekly appearance on the John Thompson Radio Show here in D.C.:

"Hey Clinton, I said if he could keep that many women a secret, he needed to be...." John Thompson began.

"He needed to be congratulated. I said the same thing," Portis interrupted with a chuckle. "If he could keep that a secret and ain't nobody came out and told [on him], hey, congratulate him. You know, most of the time there's one or two, and you can't keep that a secret. So if he can balance 14 and keep it a secret, congrats. You know, at least he knows what he wants. He don't discriminate, he's not against people, he don't care what your job, what your background is....He knew what he was after."

Before I go on, I highly recommend clicking on the link and reading his entire explanation. The part I've included is merely the most hilarious portion of his entire pontification on el Tigre.

Switching gears, in terms of sports, I wanted to highlight a rumor making its rounds around the internet. I want to emphasize rumor because clearly it hasn't been confirmed by the parties involved. The Philadelphia Flyers haven't been playing well this year, and there could be a very specific non-ice related reason behind it:

This one is out of the bizarre rumor mill, however, a credible source told “thephillyfour” a possible affair could be the reason the Flyers locker room appears to be split this season. According to the source Jeff Carter had an affair with Scott Hartnell’s wife and the entire locker room is split over the situation.

Now I won't comment on this actual situation, other than to say I can only hope this ends up in a similar manner to Roger Dorn and Ricky Vaughn in "Major League", i.e. the Indians win the pennant and Bob Uecker drinks whisky. What I do think people should realize is that more and more stories like this one and the Tiger Woods fiasco are going to become regular parts of the sports news cycle. No matter how uncomfortable it makes people feel.

See, we saw it with regular celebrity news. Remember the days when there was just Entertainment Tonight on TV? That was the only thing I ever heard of growing up that, on a daily basis, chronicled the lives of celebrities — and only for 30 minutes a day. Just look in the TV guide these days (I guess people don't really do that anymore because of digital cable, but for this argument imagine me pulling out the style section of the Washington Post and glancing at the TV listings), there's so many options for stalking the private lives of the celebrities we salivate over. Sure Entertainment Tonight is still around, but there's also Access Hollywood, TMZ, The Insider, hell there's even an entire channel whose sole nightly focus is to give you celebrity news with an exclamation point. That doesn't even call into question the fact that we as an American public are so interested in others' lives, we flock to shows that delve into the private life of seemingly regular people (Laguna Beach, The Hills, Jon and Kate Plus Eight, Jersey Shore, and the list really goes on and on).

So if you're sick of this Tiger Woods stuff, I'm pretty sure you're in the minority. The 21st Century has brought people's curiousness to the surface. All those days of looking out your window and wondering what was going on in your neighbor's house (does that make me weird, because occasionally I would do this) have simply been replaced by gazing into another figurative neighbor's living room, one that happens to have television cameras in it.

The Tiger story is more like the first in a string of sports-related "transgressions" that will likely be uncovered in the next couple of years. Media outlets have seen how much attention and conversation the Tiger Woods scandal has stimulated and my guess is they will go after these types of stories even more aggressively in the future. After reading that, maybe your first thought is "God damn media trying to create a frenzy when there isn't one." Legitimate argument, but my reply to the general public is simple. The media won't pursue stories that aren't interesting, that don't draw ratings. And the bottom line is, you may be uncomfortable hearing about the real Tiger, but you can't turn away from it either.

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