A splash of humor, a dash of cynicism, and a twist of skepticism

james poyner

james poyner
Summit, New Jersey,
May 14
A former journalist and stock analyst, I now do custom cabinetry and photography. I also occasionally vent verbally, a throwback to days in the newsroom.


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APRIL 9, 2010 11:03AM

Masters Baiting Over Tiger Woods

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I am not, let me say at the outset, an avid golf fan. I do, however, often enjoy watching the final nine holes of a tournament on a lazy Sunday afternoon—especially if Tiger Woods is in the hunt.


The media mania surrounding Tiger’s return from self-imposed exile after revelations of his seedy, sadly mortal sexual escapades causes me to ponder many things, not the least of which is the country’s constant preoccupation with celebrities and its insistence that said celebrities fulfill to the letter an unwritten code of ethics as figures who are unilaterally chosen to be role models for our toddlers. That goes double for sports celebrities because they do something—play a game—that is introduced to children at an early age. A philandering Nobel winning physicist never seems to make CNN or Fox News if he or she is caught swapping protons with a slut.


For all the gnashing of teeth and the stern finger shaking that takes place at the corporate and fan level over such tawdry, titillating tales of libido run wild, America almost always seems to forgive—or at least forget—the desecrator of our Puritanical code. Really? Yes, really. Ask Kobe Bryant—or the sponsors who dropped him when he was charged with sexual assault only to return when the “charge” was reduced to merely having an adulterous adventure—no more or less adulterous than those of Tiger.


 tiger woods 

Tiger is so contrite he now plays the game on his knees. 

Photo by Jaime Squire/Getty Images

 This week’s moralizing from the chairman of Augusta, Bill Payne, epitomized the harrumphing around the land over Tiger’s indiscretions. Payne was quoted in The New York Times on Wednesday: “Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.” 

Please, spare me the moralizing from a club that continues to live in the Stone Age by not allowing female membership. If Payne were really that upset why did he allow Tiger to enter the tournament? Easy. America is long on moralizing as long as it doesn’t cost any money, which banning Tiger undoubtedly would have done for all the parties putting on Masters.

Too, America loves to look down from its Mt. Olympus of rectitude and bestow forgiveness after an appropriate period of contrition on the part of the guilty. As much as we idolize our sports heroes, we love it even more when they prove themselves to be even bigger fuck-ups than the average Joe or Josephine. 

Tiger is just another example of a syndrome Tom Wolfe coined in Bonfire of the Vanities: Master of the Universe. When so much money and so much adulation is showered on an individual he can come to believe that codes of conduct and often laws as well are only, as Leona Helmsley once infamously observed, “for the little people.”  

But, short of breaking the law, should we care a twit about celebrity behavior? Well, technically, Tiger did break the law in Florida and many other states that still consider adultery a crime, typically a misdemeanor.  But I don’t believe any charges have been filed against him. The tacit lack of enforcement of such statutes makes all the sermonizing about Tiger’s behavior even more specious. 

I’m reminded of that news photo from 1996 at the funeral of former French Prime Minister Francois Mitterrand that shows his wife standing next to his mistress at the service. How many chuckles have the French had over--among many, many other things--our preoccupation with Tiger’s sex life? 

Here’s a thought: If our country is so shaken by Tiger’s debauchery, if male professional sports figures are so very important to the upbringing of our darling tots, then let them take steroids--nay, demand it. Not only will they hit farther, run faster, and set more records, their sex drives, ironically, can be reduced as the result of tiny testicles. 

Hey, that reminds me of that Don Ho classic: “Tiny testicles in the wine….” 

So, after the first round in the Masters yesterday, Tiger is, once again, in the hunt for the green jacket, as if all the scrutiny, the breathless reporting about every new discovery in his sexual dossier over the past five months had never happened. Reportedly, after a slow start to his round, he found a groove in the back nine and finished only two strokes off the lead with his best first round ever at the tournament, a 68. 

And the crowds cheered wildly….

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As New England Senior Mini-Golf champ with three major titles to my name, including the coveted Route 9 Putt-Putt Open, my unanswered question is--why don't babes slobber all over miniature golf pros? Just because we're "mini" golfers doesn't mean we're small.
Billy Payne should be ashamed of himself. He caved in to the Puritanical demands of the phonies who sit on the Augusta National board of directors, I'm sure. There is nothing quite like a Southern hypocrite!
What pressure Tiger must have felt before he dropped that 20 foot putt.
If he had missed, the late night talkies would have been buzzing in overdrive.
Tiger Woods scores a 69 -- again!!
As my husband put it - Payne just looked like an old southern white man dressing down a young black man. His little speech was pathetic, inappropriate and more than a little bit racist.
Con: You make an excellent point. Mini golfers have the same size putters as the pros.

LintheSoutheast: Having lived in both the North and the South, I'd have to say neither region has cornered the market on hypocrites (Eliot Spitzer comes to mind in the North); but Southern hypocrites usually are a lot funnier.

P.J.: I didn't see any of the round. Did any commentator observe how stiff his putter was when putting it in the hole?

aDerek: I suspect there's some truth in what you say. Would he have gotten on his high horse if the player in question had been Phil Mickelson?
Terrific post! I, for one, hail from a family of avid golfers but alas, I am not one. Poor Tiger. I've said it from the beginning of all this, and I am heartened to see that it didn't take him too long to get back out there. He is a Poem of a Golfer, isn't he? I salute your note that a white man probably would not have seen the depth of "bad press" that Tiger has, but hopefully, he's a redeemed "Come Back" kid. He apparently has impressed Jesse Janes with his prescribed course of Atonement: embrace depravity, vow to wholeheartedly address problem, publicly apologize to demoralized family and fans, admit self to appropriate rehab facility/program, burst back on scene following a feasable period of low-lying confinemen, and give 'em hell ! Tiger managed to weather this mayhem gracefully.
"As much as we idolize our sports heroes, we love it even more when they prove themselves to be even bigger fuck-ups than the average Joe or Josephine. "

They have more money and easier access to the tool necessary to really fuck things up. Think of what many of us could have done with millions at our disposal in our twenties and thirties.

I also find the high dudgeon a little odd considering the sport. Yeah, he put a face to a sport for many others, but for the core users? Those core users are nothing more than alpha males. You think most alphas do not wonder what it would be like to nail anything and everything that came into their path. It makes Tiger that much more appealing.
LilyoftheValley: You know, I still recall that famous clip from the "Mike Douglas Show" when a three- or four-year-old Tiger was on with his dad doing trick putts. How did that cute little boy with obviously caring parents morph into a sex addict? In any case, Tiger probably will figure out his personal life--perhaps after a divorce--and go on to make his life have more meaning than golf or a bunch of bad press.

A role model for Tiger? Andre Agassi. I urge you to read his outstanding autobiography. In a tired, hackneyed genre, Agassi's story is a standout of dealing with a monster of a father, the pressures of a sport that makes golf look like a walk in the park, the realization of his shortcomings, and his current apotheosis as a selfless leading figure in education who now has it all--the wife of his dreams and two ridiculously cute kids.

Gwool: There is truth in what you say about alpha males. Just the other day one of my son's friends decried the bad press Tiger has gotten as jealousy over a guy who "has a hot wife and still gets all the tail he wants everywhere he goes."
At this point in time, isn't the media coverage of this inconsequential piece of tragicomedy just one big circle jerk?
Elpee: I couldn't agree more. As my daddy used to say, "I wish this was all I had to worry about."
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