Friday, December 18, 2009

Judging Tiger Woods

I have read many a comment in different places that condemns Tiger Woods for his escapades with various women. Sure, looking at the results, his behavior was clearly a mistake. But there is a big trap for onlookers: It is the implicit assumption, "If I were the Tiger, I would not be so stupid as to have fooled around with those women because I am on a higher plane morally." It is a claim that you, with your experiences, would have acted differently. It assumes that had you found yourself in the same situation you would have been able to resist the temptations he yielded to.

You cannot justify making this assumption--chances are that given your life and background you would not have gotten Tiger Woods' success and fame, not just because you were not as gifted, but simply because you are you as a result of your own very different personal history and nature. This being so, it would not ever be possible for you to experience the same reality. Why? The content of any reality is determined by the nature of the individual and the situation s/he faces. If either of these two components is different, another person's reality is not the same as yours. This being so, it is wrong to assume a moral superiority allowing you to judge the star who has fallen from grace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Understanding the Tiger Woods Scandal

Why was Tiger selected as a role model for big corporations to advertise their products?

In the first place it was his fame as a winner in a field that seemed to be closed to minorities. That made him newsworthy in and of itself. The media covered him as a new type of champion. And as any product struggles to get more attention than the rest, being associated with a winner, if not "THE WINNER," makes the product appear as a champion by association.

What qualities make a star more valuable as an endorser of product?

First, the better known a star is to the public the more valuable s/he becomes. The simple reason: A star in the eyes of hundreds of millions is a star with greater candlepower than one with just a few millions. The math is simple: the more people become starry- eyed, the greater the number of viewers who want to buy the products associated with the star.

What about controversy? Doesn't it make the star even more interesting?

Yes, as a news item per se--people at the moment pay more attention to Tiger than before, but his usefulness for sponsorships is lessened. Where before the scandal his pristine reputation in all respects made him appear as a total winner, his endorsement is no longer effective with anyone to whom "moral standards" are important. And with the "flawless" reputation lost, many viewers would longer identify themselves with him.

Was it wise for him to give up golf for the moment?

Undoubtedly. Had he stayed, he would have been hounded every time he appeared in public, resulting in an ever greater hunger for paparazzi and tabloid writers to get material on him. It's much less interesting to keep his story in the headlines while he is not around.

Will his scandal do damage to the golfing industry?

Probably little. People who take up golf because of Tiger have done so already, and it is highly unlikely they will lose interest because of a scandal involving the biggest star in the sport. Sports, whether as a participant or a spectator, are habits, and most habits are not easily broken.

What can we conclude from it all?

Stardom is about money. Prizes for the star's performance, product endorsements and the fame that opens doors are the star's rewards. Publicity surrounding him is food for the tabloids who make money by "exposing the star's flaws." There is money to be made when the star gets brighter and stays brighter, and there is money to be made when his light is darkened by scandal.