Why do we care about Tiger Woods any more? Truly.
I mean, is he a likable guy who engages the fans or the media in the fashion of such legendary Golfing Engagers as John Daly, Lee Trevino or Arnold Palmer? Not even close.
Does he look like he’s having a good time? Nah, he seems mostly miserable.
Is he killing it on the course? Not a chance these days. He’s even scoring worse than a good duffer. Hell, even I (a weekend hacker with two bad knees and a stilted backswing) could put up Tiger’s numbers here or there on a tough course — with beer as part of the golfing equation.
No, here’s why the media still cares about Tiger: It’s the easy story to file — kind of like when national journalists bounce into Detroit, slam their trunk lids and shamelessly shove down our collective throats the classic “ruin porn” story.
You know the one where they prop up some toothless vagabond who traps, kills and then Bar-B-Qs squirrels as part of his daily culinary regimen. Next to his tent, of course. In the city, of course. That’s how everybody in metro Detroit lives, right?
But back to Tiger. You see, filing a story on Tiger is all about following-the-money. Discussing Tiger gets ratings — talent be dammed. Think of it as the male or sports version of reporting on Kim Kardashian.
I dare you. Tell me where I’m wrong about the similarities in the now indistinguishable Woods/Kardashian media algorithm:
- Mention the marquee name
- Show some pictures/video of them doing whatever it is they’re known for (regardless of their lack of talent relative to others in their respective industries)
- People will blindly, robotically watch, and ding, ding, ding goes the ratings meter.
Yes, Woods is still breaking records, but unfortunately for him, those records are going the opposite direction. His two-round-before-not-qualifying 156 at this year’s U.S. Open is the worst in his professional career.
Oh, and his actual world ranking? As of this writing, Tiger clocks in at the less-than-relevant 194th position — right below Julien Quesne. Surely, ESPN files story after story about Julien Quesne, right? After all, he’s better than Tiger.
So are 192 others.
There’s just so much robust goodness, growth and vitality in the sport to focus on other than Tiger, especially with the crop of young, exciting players like Fowler, Speith and McIlroy — to name a precious few.
And what about this kid Cole Hammer (how great is that name?). He’s the 15-year-old phenom and third-youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open who — at almost 25 years Tiger’s junior — came in with rounds of 77 and 84, losing to The Exalted One by a mere five strokes.
Now that’s a story worth reading. Give that kid just a slice of the attention Tiger gets.
Oh, and how cool was he in addition to scoring well and handling the pressure at his tender age. As he was getting ready to leave Wednesday’s practice round, a small crowd was begging him to come over and Sharpie-sign their kitschy, sweaty, just-purchased merchandise.
Hammer kindly accommodated — with a smile even. When was the last time you saw Tiger accommodate — let alone smile at — a fan’s request?
Here’s my charge, then, to the media (please God, let them be willing to accept it): Stop insulting us. The blast radius of your salivating over this Golfing Has Been is deafening, disgusting and just not productive. Dig deeper (even just a little bit), do the work you’re paid to do and create relevant story lines that don’t involve Tiger.
There’s precious little broadcast and newsprint real estate. The media needs to start devoting that valuable news hole to people and stories other than Tiger — regardless of the lapdog ratings he allegedly fills their coffers with.
We lead busy lives, we care about what we read and watch and we have little patience for the drivel you call journalism that you’re injecting us with.
Okay, when Tiger retires from the tour, fine, file that next story — your last one — on him. Until then, do your job by getting off your lazy, editorial ass and engage us with relevant-for-today golf stories that really matter and make us think in new ways about the game.
Come to think of it, why am I telling you this? Didn’t you learn that in Journalism 101?