Taking My Hacks

Tiger Tales

Joe Orlando

 

Here we go... more talk about Tiger Woods and his alleged escapades. Yes, most of you are sick of hearing about it and so am I but, in the midst of all the controversy, a serious issue with modern athletes exists and it affects the hobby quite a bit these days.

With the enormous sums of money paid to athletes for performance on the field and endorsements off the field, the level of personal scrutiny has never been greater. Of course, this is not limited to sports figures. All celebrities are followed, their every move watched, as regular folk almost wish for a possible train wreck to unfold. It is a truly bizarre and repulsive pastime but it is so prevalent today that it is fast becoming the norm.

With Tiger, and his squeaky clean image, he was almost too good to be true. He was a professional golfer with no peer. He was a devoted family man with, apparently, great values. He was dedicated to the sport, a man with unrivaled work ethic from the time he was a child. He was the guy you want to root for. He wasn't Floyd Mayweather Jr.... he was Manny Pacquiao... a guy who has stayed humble despite all the success, a man who could handle himself in and out of the sport. Tiger was a respected person, not just a respected athlete.

Unfortunately, as is usually the case with people, he was too good to be true. I am sure this hits home with many of you. It certainly hit home with me. Usually, in the hobby, we apply this cliché to a particular collectible or possible deal. Here, we are talking about a person, which makes the reality much more difficult to swallow. When you have admired someone or thought you knew someone for a long period of time, the letdown can be immeasurable when you find out the truth.

Today, the modern athlete cannot hide. In the past, the media approached these personal celebrity matters in an entirely different way. The celebrity was almost protected and their fans were protected from the truth, a truth that made their heroes human just like they were. Mickey Mantle would have been torched by the modern media, so would Babe Ruth, Bill Russell and many icons of sport.

Even though their transgressions are well documented now, collectors and fans seem to be much more forgiving since it didn't happen in real time. No matter how past sports stars behaved, in their time, they are seemingly given a free pass. This is not so for the modern athlete. It is the trade they have to accept as part of their chosen profession. So, you want to be a pro athlete? OK, but you will sacrifice your privacy in return. No matter how much money these guys make, I am not sure it's worth it.

That said, we are also a forgiving society and love to give people second chances, sometimes third and fourth chances. It is almost contradictory on its face but it happens all the time. Everyone seems to love a comeback story. Alex Rodriguez is a great example of that. He started 2009 as a goat, as an athlete and a person, but ended up a hero by going out on the field, performing and straightening out his personal life. A-Rod made people forget about his past.

Tiger will have that same chance. Will he make us forget? Perhaps, but what we should never forget is that athletes are human like the rest of us, just as frail and flawed as we are underneath their superhero shell.

Morality is a very personal matter. Should we simply accept "human" behavior? It is up to the individual to determine what is and is not acceptable. One thing is for sure, the tale of Tiger is still being written. It is now up to him on how the story ends.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief