2009年12月9日 星期三

The Best Commets about Tiger's Transgressions So Far

Tiger’s imperfect world

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Dec 2, 12:49 pm EST

In a perfect world, the public wouldn’t be obsessed with celebrity gossip.

In a perfect world, a golfer wouldn’t make a billion dollars.

Tiger Woods’ Cocktail Waitresses Across America tour took a new turn Wednesday with the release of voicemails, emails, text messages and the like from women claiming affairs with him. It got to be so much, Woods released another statement. He started strong by acknowledging his failures.

“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” he wrote. “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.”

He should’ve quit right there.

With Woods, however, he can’t. He never can. It’s why all those boiler plate crisis management solutions were laughable when applied to Tiger. “Hold a press conference”? Please, feeding him to the media would’ve been the dumbest move possible. This guy can’t stay on message in a statement on his own website.

He immediately launched into a four-paragraph lecture about the horrors of celebrity news coverage, the invasiveness of a media free-for-all and how unfair it is that the public has an unquenchable thirst for dirt on the people they’ve made rich and famous.

“Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means,” Tiger wrote. “For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives.”

This rules out that Tiger was innocently going to 7-Eleven when he wrecked his Escalade at 2:23 a.m. last week. If tabloid scrutiny surprised him, he obviously hasn’t seen a checkout stand magazine rack in years.

His basic point is correct, of course. This is none of anyone’s business. He cheated on his wife, not on the golf course, not on his taxes, not while committing some other crime. The public is owed nothing.

In a perfect world, though, teachers and cops and construction workers wouldn’t have to pony up extra money to buy a shirt for their kid just because Tiger Woods’ name is on it.

In a perfect world, they wouldn’t have to break the bank for overpriced Nike shoes, with a hunk of it going to pay for Tiger Woods’ private plane.

In a perfect world, women in Asia wouldn’t be paid pennies an hour to stitch up his product.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by rampant consumerism, false idol worship and mesmerizing advertisements – a trio of circumstances that Tiger Woods has played and profited from better than just about anyone.

So in a perfect world, yes, Tiger Woods cheating on his family would be a private issue. For many people, it still is. He’s a golfer and as long as he keeps entertaining them on Sunday afternoons in red, that’s enough.

As it should be.

Which is different than how it is. Celebrity gossip isn’t a new phenomenon. You might as well complain about death and taxes.

Tiger had the closest thing to a dream life anyone could imagine: untold wealth, a beautiful, healthy family, professional satisfaction and so on.

He got some of it from portraying himself as a model of clean-cut morality. Perfect shirt. Perfect smile. Perfect wife. Perfect life.

He was the family man, the teacher, the leader, the inspirer. “I am Tiger Woods,” children across the world repeated in one advertisement. In another, he starred with a talking stuffed animal/driver cover. He coveted the opportunity to be everyone’s role model, to speak to young people. He wasn’t Charles Barkley, smartly arguing against allowing kids to look up to him. He wasn’t Derek Jeter, happily living the bachelor life with every Hollywood starlet he could find. The public applauds those guys.

Tiger took every bit of the money his image delivered. And with great rewards come great responsibility. That’s the deal. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t have your image beamed relentlessly into everyone’s living room and then expect people not to be intrigued with your life.

You can’t release glowing pictures of your family and think the public isn’t going to seek information when it comes crumbling down.

It’s fine that he’s not perfect. It’s just that he had IMG sell him as such.

Tiger should’ve stopped after the contrite first paragraph. He should’ve hunkered down and tried to salvage what he can of his marriage. Maybe he still will.

The rest speaks to an athlete detached from reality, myopic in his view of the world which has surrounded him by yes men willing to do anything to keep Tiger the Brand believable.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that in 2007, the National Enquirer had a story of Woods straying from his marriage. According to a former executive at the magazine’s parent company, Woods’ marketing team worked a deal out that the Enquirer would squash the story in exchange for Tiger posing for the cover of sister-publication Men’s Fitness.

He did and they did.

In Tiger Woods’ perfect world, that’s how tabloids were dealt with, how trouble was escaped, how his privacy and marriage were saved. His fame and earning potential were always enough to bail him out.

Now that it can’t, Tiger, spare us the complaining.

WTA Should Thank Roger

Justine Henin: ‘Wimbledon is my challenge now and I will never give up’

For Justine Henin, life was good until June, when Roger Federer won the French Open. She was an ex-tennis player — a busy, fulfilled, very happily ex-tennis player — and she had it all worked out until that day Federer started messing with her head.

She surrenders all this information very willingly; surprisingly willingly for an athlete who is reputedly shy and private. But she is perfectly forthcoming, at times fascinatingly so, on the internal drama of Federer, of her fear of Venus Williams, of whether life is better with or without a tennis racket in her right hand and why Wimbledon has driven her to make the comeback.

So let us make this clear, because in an interview with Henin, she likes to deal in clarity. Her comeback is nothing to do with Kim Clijsters’s recent phenomenally successful US Open-winning return. Not at all, she says. It is because of Federer.

On June 7, she watched a TV broadcast of a tennis match for the first time since her retirement 13 months earlier. She had not been interested before then. She was so uninterested that, in that time, she had only hit balls twice and those were attempts at social tennis with friends.

But Federer had won everything going apart from Roland Garros and she wished him well, and so she decided to watch. And as he at last sealed a French Open title, says Henin, “I started to feel something strange.” She describes this as a “little voice inside me” that so surprised her that “for the first few days, I didn’t want to hear it”. These words are very personal: “I couldn’t believe that this thing inside my heart that I thought was dead was coming back — this thought that I could walk on the court again.”

So she ignored it for a while, but the voice grew stronger. “Finally,” she says, “I had the courage to put on my cap and take my racket and go on the court and try and see how it felt. And that very first time, I felt it, I still had the passion.” The cap is significant, she says. “One of my friends saw me wearing the cap and said: ‘Now I know.’ ”

Henin would like such certainty and clarity always, you feel, but recognises that it is not always possible. In her first tennis life, she could not see beyond what she calls her “bubble”. She remembers Christmas in 2007, spent with her family: “Important moments I couldn’t enjoy. We had a good night but my mind was somewhere else, on the next tournament, thinking that in two days I leave for Australia.”

It was often like that. “I could be with my friends or family, but not there,” she says. She also experienced a considerable identity crisis. “I really thought tennis was the only thing I could do and in the last six months of my career, I wasn’t proud any more of my talent or the sacrifices I was making.” Eventually, sealed inside the bubble, unable to “get away and get oxygen”, she decided to break free. And because the desire was “dead”, she really thought, at 25, that retirement was complete, that she would never be back.

Back in the old days when she could not stop to think, she presumed she was OK with Wimbledon, or rather without Wimbledon, the one grand-slam title to have eluded her. “I never thought Wimbledon would make me happier,” she says. She thought that what mattered was the journey of her career, the hard work, the teamwork, the team around her — and they did matter. But she kidded herself that that — and three of the four Slams — was enough. The day Federer completed his full set, she realised it was not.

“The comeback is not all about Wimbledon but it’s a big part of it,” she says. “The French Open is the tournament of my heart; there’s been a long love story for me there. But Wimbledon is the one I never won and it’s going to be my challenge now and I’ll never give up.”

Only out of the bubble has she really stopped “to analyse why I never won it”. Her conclusions are honest: “Because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself as a grass-court player. Because I am always scared of playing the Williams sisters on grass, especially Venus.”

Henin’s fear of Venus hit its peak in 2007. “Part of the reason I lost to [Marion] Bartoli in the semi-final was because I was scared to face Venus in the final,” she says.

This is fascinating. Henin spent her life proving that a lightweight could compete with the modern heavyweights, but it turns out that she never completely believed it herself. “When I was younger, not a lot of people thought I could be a great player because I was so small,” she said. “Every time I had to play [the Williams sisters], I was always scared I couldn’t compete with their power.” Now she believes it will be different.

She will return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in a different frame of mind, she will reside both inside and out of the bubble, she hopes to be herself more in public — “far away from the serious pro image you see on the court, I am very funny and I talk all the time” — and “I will always know now that I am someone else before being a tennis player”.

She will also tackle Wimbledon in a different frame of mind. She might seek to plan her campaign differently, she may play more grass-court tennis; anything to build the confidence she needs to face the Williams sisters.

Modestly, though, she warns not to expect too much too soon. “I’m probably 70 per cent now,” she says, which is not bad given that she beat the world No 12, Flavia Pennetta, in an exhibition match on Sunday.

When will she be 100 per cent? “I hope by mid-season next year,” she says. Which sounds pretty much like Wimbledon.