Tiger Woods Drops Golf To Focus On Family
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Tiger Woods placed a note on his Web site last night to announce he's taking an indefinite break from professional golf. Move comes a couple of weeks after a minor, mysterious, post-midnight run-in with a fire hydrant and almost daily reports about Mr. Woods being with involved with women outside of his marriage.
Last night, he used the word infidelity and said he needs to, quote: focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person.
Joined now by NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
Good morning, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: And of course, last year's PGA Tour began without Tiger Woods, who was rehabbing a surgically repaired knee. This year, he's trying to rehab something a lot more profound. What struck you about this announcement?
What struck you about this announcement?
GOLDMAN: You know, other than the announcement about his indefinite leave, as you mentioned, it's his use of the word infidelity. Up until now, it had been the vague term "transgression" that he had used. But you know, Scott, in the face of - really, a hurricane of tabloid reports about his alleged infidelities, he has confirmed as much - without confirming the details, of course.
SIMON: You know, and I don't want us in this forum to discuss the details, but I can't pretend we both probably haven't heard quite a lot of them. And if half these reports are true, I feel the need to say this weekend it may not be a matter of Tiger Woods being with the waitress in the church parking lot when he told his wife he's going to be on the driving range, but a pattern of personal sexual conduct that could be pathological and reckless - and if professionals were involved, as recent reports have it, maybe even illegal.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, big if there. Unsubstantiated reports at this point, unconfirmed. But there may have been professionals involved. And in some places, that is illegal. And so Tiger could face something more than just, you know, the humiliation of these events becoming public.
SIMON: Now reportedly, the plethora of ads to which he lends his name -including a line of watches, I think mobile phone services - haven't been running since this news broke. Now, if advertisers pay Tiger Woods millions of dollars a year to use his name and image, and then they feel they can't use his name and image, doesn't that make the world's most famous salesman less saleable?
GOLDMAN: It does, you know, which begs the question: Does it matter that much to him at this point? I mean, remember, Tiger Woods is the first billion-dollar athlete, thanks to prize money and endorsements, and he's got a lot of money. And whether he needs this is debatable. But the fact is, yeah, it could make him less saleable.
It really depends on what he's selling. I've talked to people who said look, if he's selling things that are based on performance - Gatorade, Nike, those kinds of products - he should be OK because he - if he comes back to the tour, he will undoubtedly perform very well again. If he's asked to sell things that, you know, involve family values or dependability, those kinds of things, that may be a tougher sell.
SIMON: I know you've been talking to some people involved in sports management, crisis management, as well this week, about the situation. Tell us what you learned.
GOLDMAN: One man in particular, a guy named Veda Manager, who used to work for Nike as a strategist on crisis management issues involving athletes in trouble -like with Kobe Bryant and Marion Jones; he worked on those cases.
I asked him about the long term with Tiger. And interestingly, he brought up Ted Kennedy, the late senator from Massachusetts, a man with large flaws - one obituary said - who had been involved in the infamous Chappaquiddick incident. But when Ted Kennedy died a few months ago, he was revered and given a hero's funeral, as everyone knows.
And Veda Manager said it was largely because of a long and successful public career, and it could be the same with Tiger. Winning is redemptive. Now, Tiger is only 33 and if he comes back, he's certain to win a lot more golf tournaments over the next 20, even 30 years into the Senior Tour. And you know, Manager said time and winning performances are Tiger Woods' friends right now.
SIMON: What's the PGA Tour without him for the next few months or whatever?
GOLDMAN: Hmm, not a lot. I heard one commentator call it the JV Circuit. You know? I mean Tiger is the big man. Because of him, the prize money has been so big, the crowds have been so big, the TV rating is huge. He is it. And so without him, one can imagine that it won't be as big. But you know, so they're obviously hoping that while he gets through this period, he comes back soon.
SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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