I can’t remember if I’ve ever had any kind of emotional reaction to golf before. While I still think it’s a great sport and one I’d still like to take up one day, I cant help but feel appalled at the way the golfing fraternity treated one of its own and turned its back on arguably its greatest player.
When I was younger I didn’t appreciate Tiger Woods as much as I should have. Somewhere along the way, I was taught that his dominance was unfair or somehow bad for the game. I find it funny now that I’m grown that athletes who were just as dominant as Woods in other sports I grew up following, who were in their pomp at around the same time, were heralded for their victories; think Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Pete Sampras. When I think about it now, I can’t help but feel that although Woods was admired as a player, he was tolerated not accepted and dare I say, under-celebrated.
This past Monday, I woke up in the early hours to the news that Tiger Woods had been arrested for driving under the influence. My heart sank immediately as I was sure this was the end of him. I was certain this was the last nail they needed to bury him; I believed even after all the injuries and setbacks, we’d get to see Tiger at his best once again, however there would be no coming back after this. If there is one thing that makes me the saddest in sport, it’s the downfall of a once great athlete.
I remember saying “there’s more to this story that will be revealed in the coming days” during one of my bulletins while reporting on the story. I feared the worst, was afraid that more sordid details of Woods’ life would be revealed. I’ll admit I was sceptical when I read that his defence was that he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medication”. Throughout that morning, I saw Woods’ mug shot on various news sites as well as social media accompanied by some vile comments. His past indiscretions were dug up and his fall from grace discussed at length. The saying goes ‘A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’. It wasn’t even a day later when the news broke that a breathalyser test showed he had zero alcohol on his breath.
At that point, I would have thought that would have been the end of the story. The news sites didn’t retreat, instead kept writing stories about how he was found asleep at the wheel of his car as if all the earlier stories were justified and then as if to humiliate him, posted a video where he couldn’t walk along a straight line. Social media users didn’t miss a beat either, I saw more than a few people who had claimed to be Tiger Woods fans, encouraging negative talk about him and one that disturbed me said “he still looks like a drug dealer in that police photo.’
I cannot help but look at the example of tennis where Maria Sharapova is still mollycoddled by the media as if she were a young girl who accidently ate too much candy floss and experienced a sugar high instead of being treated as someone who failed a drugs test and served a lengthy doping ban.
It bothers me that an innocent man who has done nothing but good for his sport is shunned for no good reason. It makes one wonder whether or not there is something sinister at play. Is it possible that Woods’ biggest selling point actually made many within the establishment uneasy and actually couldn’t wait for the day he passed his sell-by date so they could throw him on the trash heap? It bothers me that the fiercest, most dominant golfer of modern time is treated as a black stain on a glorious game while someone like Gary Player, who actively supported apartheid, is still viewed in high esteem.
To date, I am yet to read a retraction or an apology from anyone regarding Woods.
Tiger Woods deserved better.