Woods should focus on golfing, or leave the sport if he doesn’t

Tiger Woods, 34, fell off of golf’s pedestal last November when he was caught having multiple affairs and admitted to being a sex addict. He has since had a media frenzy surrounding his personal life.

Golfer/adulterer Tiger Woods made headlines again Sunday when he graciously fielded questions from ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi about his return to the PGA and his infidelity.

Can I just go on record as saying I am sick and tired of hearing about Tiger Woods?
The world of sports is in the middle of NCAA March Madness, MLB spring training and about to start NHL playoffs, yet fans keep getting bombarded with the latest gossip surrounding Woods and his inability to honor his marriage vows.

I am not the only fan who is sick of hearing about Woods’ drama.

“He’s a phenomenal golfer, but frankly I don’t care about his private life as long as he can live with himself,” said Adam Lanseur, an Eastern Michigan University senior.

While I can admit I was once a Tiger fan and was disappointed when the golf god fell from grace last November, I don’t care that he cheated. It’s a private matter, and it should stay private.

Whether you’re a businessman, an athlete or the president, I don’t care what you do or whom you do it with as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to do your job.

What I do care about is how this whole ordeal came out to the public. It reads like a scripted plot torn out of a soap opera script.

The minute Woods’ police report hit the AP wire over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, he was engulfed by a swarm of public relations reps who dictated his every word and move.

They swooped in and grabbed him, in the cover of darkness, and hid him away from cameras and reporters, leaving people to speculate the level of his injuries or if his wife, Elin, had actually finished him off with his own golf club. Talk about poetic justice, if it had actually happened.

I can give Woods partial credit for issuing a statement saying he was taking a break from golf to focus on his family. But nothing he’s done since has shown he is putting his family first.

Since Thanksgiving, he relocated his hiding place to a Mississippi clinic for reported sex addiction – a “pseudo illness” excuse to justify his bad behavior. He cheated, plain and simple. He should just own up to it without trying to reason away his actions.

In February, Woods strategically planned a 14-minute news conference where he called all the shots. He read a PR-approved speech to a room full of carefully chosen reporters, friends and family.

While he made sure to use pretty words to describe his mistakes, he also made sure he slipped in plugs for his foundations and offered an apology to the kids across the country he let down. Aww.

Issuing an apology and admitting mistakes is great, but people who are wrong and seeking forgiveness shouldn’t be allowed to make the rules, saying when and where they want people to tune in to hear the apology or forbid questions from being asked.

His PR staff really earned its paychecks that day, having the news conference covered on ABC, CBS, NBC, EPSN, FOX and CNN. Tiger’s face was everywhere.

I also don’t find it a coincidence he chose to hold his apology news conference on the Friday of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

That weekend, golfers who normally answer questions about their putting on the back nine or their tee shots were bombarded with questions about Woods’ statement and their feelings about it.

Golfer Ernie Els finally lost his cool with Golfweek Magazine, calling Woods’ news conference “selfish.” Els claimed players should respect tournament weekends and the sponsors who promote them. He criticized Woods for drawing attention to himself and away from the game.

Woods also made sure to leave reporters hanging during the news conference about when he might go back on his original statement and return to the PGA tour. This kept critics buzzing and Woods’ name in the headlines for weeks following the news conference.

Personally, I think it’s a tad arrogant to claim in December that he wants to leave the game to be with his family and then say in February he’s coming back. Either he fixed his marriage in record time (two months) or he doesn’t think signing up for a season of more than 30 tournament weekends away from home could do any more damage to his marriage.

Linda Harper, a senior communications major, also believes Woods should wait to return: “Two months, that’s too quick. He didn’t take a lot of time to patch anything up with his wife.”

Originally, rumor had it he would make his grand re-entrance to the land of golf during the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational the weekend of March 25. But I guess Arnold Palmer didn’t invite him. Now Woods will make his first golf appearance April 8 at the Masters in Augusta, Ga.

Does anyone else think it’s a coincidence his return to the game will be to a private course where only members and their guests are allowed on the grounds? I didn’t either.
“There will be a historic number (of viewers) for the Masters this year because people want to talk about the other stuff, not about the sport,” said Tommy Green, a senior communications student.

Now the entire PGA season will be filled with more “Tiger-mania” and draw attention away from every other player and every tournament he plays in, which isn’t fair to anyone not named “Woods.” If he really wanted to show the game, his fans or the other players any respect he would stay far, far away.

“Woods is connected to the golf and what he did will be tied to the sport,” Harper said. “Now when people think ‘golf’, they’ll think ‘Woods’ and ‘cheating husband.’ ”

Golfers want to talk about golf: how they played, the history of the course they’re on or how exciting it is to win. They don’t want to talk about cheating men or socialites.

If he can’t add anything positive to the game, Woods should be a big enough man to walk away.

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