Last Wednesday, I was writing about the Tiger Woods car crash in LA. Please allow me to pull two items from that commentary:
“The golf media who created his [Woods’] celebrity persona – and then feasted on it to provide that media with “stories” – needs to let this man recover and find the life he wants for himself without 24/7 inspection and intrusion from outside.”
“ … I hope the golf media finds a way to do a bit of introspection here. The amount of coverage for this single car crash with severe injuries and zero fatalities is only justified because of the hyper-attention focused on Tiger Woods for about the last 25 years. … My hope is that the golf media can find a way to express their sorrow for his pain and to wish him a speedy and full recovery – – and then to find someone else to focus on.”
Well – – none of that seems to be happening. I am going to cite work done by two Washington Post reporters here and I want to make clear that I enjoy the work that both normally do. However, they too have fallen into the golf version of a black hole where nothing can emanate from it unless it has to do with Tiger Woods.
In last Friday’s edition of the Washington Post Sports Section, Chuck Culpepper had a story that began at the bottom of the from page of that section under this headline:
- “In the long shadow of Woods, PGA Tour pros play through”
The opening round of the week’s PGA event had taken place; Tiger Woods was not “absent” because it was never a possibility he would be in the field. The event was in southern California and Tiger Woods was in a hospital in Florida recovering from surgery on his leg(s) such that he may need to learn how to walk once again. But the story of the golf tournament is only worthy of front-page coverage because it can be tied somehow to Tiger Woods’ absence? Chuck Culpepper is a whole lot better than that!
Fast forward from Friday to Sunday in the Washington Post Sports Section. Page 8 of that section is devoted entirely to coverage of golf. There are two photos on the page:
- One is a photo of Tiger Woods with his son Charlie in a father/son event from last year. It covers 40.7 square inches on the page.
- The other photo is of Collin Morikowa – the leader and eventual winner of the ongoing PGA event of last week. That photo covers 25.9 square inches on the page.
So, maybe the golf folks and the sports mavens at the Washington Post figure that a sentimental photo of Tiger Woods with his son is a valuable image in this less-than-positive time in Woods’ life. I will give all of them that – – until I look at the rest of the page devoted to “golf news”. There are 3 stories on the page:
- The first is a compilation from the Associated Press about the status of the PGA Tour ongoing event, the LPGA Tour ongoing event and the PGA Tour Champions ongoing event. Those “roundups” consist of 12 column-inches not counting for headline space.
- The second story is about how the car accident involving Tiger Woods was not a shock to residents in the area where it happened. As had been reported for days by the time of time article, the accident occurred at a place where traffic accidents were commonplace on a hilly, winding road. That story consisted of 26.5 column-inches not accounting for headline space.
- The third story was by Dave Sheinin – who is as good a reporter as there is on a sports page that I read regularly. It was a hagiography of Tiger Woods from the time he was a teenage phenom through the present day when the story concludes if this is the end of Tiger’s Era, “we can permit ourselves a few moments of wistfulness for what was lost.” That story consisted of 32 column-inches not counting for headline space.
The Washington Post is a major news outlet; this is not a weekly local paper whose sports coverage rarely extends beyond the achievements of the local high school. Five days after a traffic accident, they devote about 5 times more space to the accident and the person in the accident than to “ongoing sporting events”? Cut it out! Let this man heal from his injuries – – if in fact that is the final outcome here – – and cover sports in the Sports Section. This is the kind of hyper fascination I would expect from something like the Eastern New Mexico News (Clovis, NM) about a local golfer who had made it on the big time PGA Tour.
Moreover, even if the only sin committed here was supremely over-covering a traffic accident days after the event, there is a need for a smattering of journalistic honesty here. Remember, what I want to be the outcome here is that Tiger Woods can make a recovery such that he can indeed play golf again; I do not wish him any sort of evil outcome at all. Nonetheless, let me say a couple of things that golf reporters seem terrified to say:
- Please remember, this is not the first time Tiger Woods has been in a car accident. There was that time when a fire hydrant leaped out in front of his vehicle and caused a crash and his then-wife had to rescue him by breaking the window with a 9-iron.
- Please recall that he was arrested and charged with a DUI. If you do not believe that, go to Google Images and search for “Tiger Woods DUI” and you can see the mug shots.
- Please stop saying that Tiger Woods is “lucky to be alive”. He is just as lucky not to have killed anyone driving innocently on the other side of that roadway. Just as he is lucky not to have killed anyone during the previous “DUI incident”.
If sports writers and golf writers feel compelled to write about this traffic accident, can they please stop the idolatry and write about it as if an odious sports figure had been behind the wheel. There are no more reasons for a recount of the accident details unless there is new information from forensic experts that impinge on the case. Let that poor man heal and go through rehab – – and then maybe they can write something about the greatest return known to man since Lazarus.
Finally, I can easily be convinced that way too many in the sports media today have bought into the words of Oscar Wilde when it comes to coverage of Tiger Woods:
“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………