The Tiger Woods opera is an August story in December. This is the kind of thing which, when there is no other news because the Congress is out and the President is on vacation, attracts our attention and sticks with us because in August we have to be obsessed with something.
But this is December and the world is waiting for some non-toxic smoke to come out of the chimney atop the meeting hall in Copenhagen to announce a global agreement on greenhouse gases.
Americans are waiting for the smoke to clear in the U.S. Senate so we know the nature of the nationalized health insurance with which they will attempt to saddle us.
In the Washington, DC metropolitan area we are waiting for the Congress to go home so traffic will ease for the final weeks of the decade.
People who are embarrassed to stand near the, er, safe sex display at the drug store while waiting to pick up their blood pressure prescription are consumed by the latest body count:
"It's twelve." "No. I heard it was 13!" "Really? Who?" As if it matters.
People who have never even known an agent, much less been represented by one, spend cocktails discussing the loss of sponsorships:
"Accenture announced last night they were dropping Woods." "And, Gatorade. Don't forget Gatorade." "You think Nike will stick with him?" "Sure. They sell to men." As if it matters.
People who have never played a round of golf that didn't include a windmill and a clown's mouth speak with great fervor about the state of Woods' game if and when he returns from his exile.
"He won't have his competitive edge." "Yeah, he will." "He won't be able to deal with the heckling." "Heckling? He's not playing right field for the visiting team at a Met's game. These are golf fans!" As if it matters.
The thing about the Tiger Woods saga is that there don't appear to be many people - none, that I've spoken to - who think "it's about time he's gotten taken down a notch."
Everybody liked watching Tiger play and darned near everyone liked watching Tiger win.
Woods is different than Muhammad Ali. A lot of people loved Ali when he was at the top of his skills. But a lot of people hated him. Changing his name from Cassius Clay to refusing to serve in the military didn't sit well with a bunch of folks.
Woods is different than Michael Jordan. Who didn't love watching Jordan go to the hoop with two ticks on the clock at the end of a close game? But you know and I know that there were NBA fans who wished there was a White guy who could match up with Jordan.
Woods is clearly different than Barack Obama. I have heard people sneer about the President once having gone by the name "Barry." I have never heard a single person mock Tiger for not going by his birth name "Eldrick."
Ok. I wouldn't go by Eldrick, either. Nor would William Blake have written his famous poem about an Eldrick:
Eldrick, Eldrick burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Even in 1794, that probably wouldn't have made it through his editor: "Ah, Bill? This "Eldrick, Eldrick" poem you sent over? I just don't think it's for us. Maybe you can punch it up a little. You know, add a little something about "sinews of thy heart." And you wrote that verse about a "dread hand" and "dread feet" a couple of weeks ago. Maybe you can work that in. And, I know you're touchy about my asking this Bill, but just what is an "Eldrick" anyway? We think this might work if you wrote it about a tiger, instead.
Luv ya, baby, Morty
Two excellent quotes I read over the weekend about this whole thing: The first was from a former NBA player, "Why are we treating Tiger like he's elected to public office? He plays golf, man."
The second was from a man who knows a little something about playing golf. Jack Nicklaus said simply, "It's none of my business."
Jack's right. It just doesn't matter.