To Catch a Tiger…

Recently I had a back and forth twitter conversation with Jason Whitlock. He had an interesting column today here. But our ‘conversation’ went something like this:

@WhitlockJason I don’t want Tiger to fail or his marriage to fail. I simply want him to be honest with us about what happened.
@WhitlockJason He DOES owe us something, b/c he makes tons of $ by asking us to believe in his judgment in buying products he endorses.

@HeavyD7704 why

@WhitlockJason He asks for our trust in buying products, so we should be shown that our trust is in trustworthy hands.

@HeavyD7704 please send this joke to letterman. seriously.

@WhitlockJason If he’s honest with us, I don’t think people will be upset. They will still be on his side.
@WhitlockJason If he looks like he’s covering things up, though, that’s when people get upset. See: Petitte & Giambi v. McGwire & Clemens

@HeavyD7704 you’re comparing a scrap with his wife to steroids. ain’t no comparison, especially when it appears tiger never threw a punch.

@WhitlockJason All I’m saying is if you’re a public figure, it’s better to come clean than even appear to be covering anything up
@WhitlockJason Honestly, I think people WANT to believe whatever story Tiger would come out with, they just want to hear it from HIM.
@WhitlockJason I’m not saying he did throw a punch. I don’t know WHAT happened. I just think it’s fair for him to answer questions about it.
@WhitlockJason If he made over 50% of his $ from the public, I think it’s fair for the public to ask why he ran over a hydrant & hit a tree.
@WhitlockJason you also can’t turn the cops away from questioning you 3 different times without raising suspicion about yourself.
@WhitlockJason do you really think for one second if you switched the name Tom Brady out w/ Tiger we wouldn’t be asking the same questions?

See, the point of a company hiring a celebrity endorser is this: The company thinks that having this celebrity endorse the company’s product/service will increase their sales. The reason they believe this is because the celebrity has a likability factor in the public eye. The public must also have some kind of trust in the endorser that they are believing what the endorser is selling. When that person does something to break the public trust, companies get antsy, not because they are concerned for the person, but because that person’s actions will hurt their sales and damage their brand. By the very nature of what endorsers do, they are saying
a) I use this product
b) It’s a good enough product that I’m recommending it
c) Trust me
d)I think that this product will improve YOUR life.
If that is indeed the case, when something happens that brings that endorser’s character/trustability into question, is it not fair for the public to at least be able to ASK questions of this endorser (of whom they have helped make rich off of their moneys/buying habits)?

One of the contentions that Mr. Whitlock has (among other people and it is not incorrect in the general scope of society) is that some of us want successful people to fail (in their professional or personal lives). Is Tiger the subject of ridicule because of this traffic accident? Yes. Do people REALLY want to see him fail? I say no. People love Tiger.. Nike has built a golf empire because of Tiger. If you remember, there WAS no Nike Golf until Tiger signed with them. It has been a ‘from the ground up’ business that Tiger has helped to mold, from the clothing line to equipment and everything in between. There is a reason Phil Mickelson made that famous quote about Tiger beating every one’s brains in with ‘inferior equipment‘… because at that time, Nike equipment WAS inferior to other brands. (Personally, I still don’t like the Nike equipment… I’m pretty much playing Taylor Made everything with an Odyssey White Hot XG #9 Putter with Taylor Made TP Black or TP Burner Golf balls, but that is neither here nor there).

Let’s go over Tiger’s endorsement history: Nike, AMEX, GM, Titleist (formerly), General Mills, Accenture, Gatorade, Buick, TAG Heuer, Gillette, EA Sports and his own Foundation and First Tee programs. Of all of those products, he is only an acknowledged expert in 2 (Nike and Titleist). Everything else he is endorsing, he is asking us to trust his judgment and believe that these products will make our lives better. In doing so, you MUST open yourself up to questions the public has about your level of trustworthiness. Forbes reported earlier this year that Tiger is the first $1 BILLION athlete. The All-Time PGA Money list has Tiger at just under $93 Million. Simple math will tell you that he has then made $900+ Million off of the course through business dealings, golf course design and endorsements. People (rightly or wrongly) are concerned about his well-being. He could have been seriously hurt by running his Caddy Escalade over a hydrant and smashing it into a tree. The first thing that flashed through MY head when I heard Tiger and ‘car accident’ was Ben Hogan. Ben was so badly injured it took him 11 months to play again and 16 months after the accident, he won the US Open (after doctors said he wouldn’t WALK again, never mind play golf) My second thought was is his family OK? If you are going somewhere at 2:25 AM, there aren’t many reasons why you would be doing that, and almost all of them would have to do with your family. After hearing a) he was not seriously injured and b) his family was OK, I then though.. What the hell, man? Where are you going at 2:25 AM in such a hurry that you freight train a hydrant and a tree, then shut out the police for 3 straight days when they simply want to ask you questions? Why do you need your lawyer to run interference? What’s up with releasing a statement on your website regarding what happened.. which as anyone who saw ‘All the President’s Men’ could tell you is a ‘non-denial denial.’ Was he trying to re-create the sleepwalking scene from ‘Step Brothers’ and it all went horribly wrong? If he was drifting in and out of consciousness, does that mean he suffered a concussion? If so, how bad is it? Are these statements that are coming out in Tiger’s name even HIS words?

Is it your right to remain silent about what happened? Sure, it’s your legal right. Is it the wise thing to do when you make much of your living off of public trust? Probably not. The examples I gave above were of the MLB players in the steroid mess because those were a) the most recent and b) the best examples of what I could give on how the public treats an individual who ‘confesses’ to the public versus someone who does everything they can to hide or cover up what happened. We KNOW that Jason Giambi and Andy Petitte took PEDs. They have ‘admitted’ it. They took their medicine for 1 week (at most) and now what? NO ONE CARES!! They can go on with their lives. No one brought up PEDs when Petitte and the Yankees were making their World Series run this year. Petitte could go out and sell whatever he wants to right now. Now McGwire and Clemens? The first thing that was brought up when the Cardinals hired McGwire as hitting coach was: Will he have a press conference to address the PED issue? Nothing about his qualifications or anything else. They have taken great pains to hide, cover up, and exacerbate a situation that didn’t need to be inflamed. NO company wants to hire them to endorse product. What’s the difference between these people? Group A decided to give their explanation of what happened to them in their lives and trust the public. Group B will not give the public that trust and the public, therefore doesn’t believe what they say.. it’s not rocket science (pun not intended) Who is the most beloved athlete or ex-athlete today? Charles Barkley by a country mile. What does Charles do? He openly admits to his vices, expresses disappointment that he has put himself in a tough position and vows to be better. Is he under any legal obligation to do so? No. But he knows it’s the right thing to do, and the public eats it up. When you make your public persona about an image (Tiger, Jordan, Jeter, ARod) we have no idea what you are really like and may judge your indiscretions more harshly than someone like Barkley. We KNOW who Barkley is and love him for it.

The bottom line is that we don’t care where Tiger goes or what he does in his residences for 365 days a year. We really don’t care. But when he brings it out of the house and police get involved, people have a right to know certain basic things. Is he alright? Is everyone involved OK? Why did police get involved? Why did you hit a hydrant and tree with a car? If he said that into a camera and gave a minute explanation of what happened, we’d already be over it. Now, it’s a scab we need to keep picking at.

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