November 16, 2000

One Greedy Tiger

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In his four years on the professional tour, golfer Tiger Woods has met, if not exceeded, every expectation he has come across.

The public has been enamored with Wood’s aura since he appeared on the Mike Douglas Show as a three-year old golf phenom. America has followed him religiously as he has grown up. He’s the all-around good guy: always says the right thing and avoids controversy like the plague. He flashes his million dollar smile and hearts melt everywhere. He is a hero for the underrepresented, and the underdog.

Tiger Woods is the only man who ever made golf “cool.” Viewership for the game has quadrupled. Golf is demanding money from networks that was once reserved for NBA games. Woods is good for golf, and it seems like he just realized that fact.

But now the impossible has happened. Not only has the golden boy forgotten to bring his A-game to his last three tournament but he has also sullied his sqeaky-clean reputation.

In his highly publicized interview in the Nov. 10th issue of Golf World , the golf world’s poster-child voiced a scathing critique of the PGA Tour and its commissioner, Tim Finchem.

According to Woods, the Tour has exploited him. Finchem never asks about his health and, “The only time he talks to me is when he wants me to do something for him,” Woods bemoaned in the article. Moreover, the PGA overuses his image for promoting purposes, attaches “implied endorsements” to him, and he added, “in a perfect world” he’d receive a cut of those nine-figure TV deals.

He single-handedly quadrupled prize money at golf tournaments, and yet has refused to share the wealth with the other players on the Tour (up until three weeks ago).

He amassed total winnings of $9,188,321.43 this year. Add to that sum the $54 million dollars a year he receives from his 12 multi-million dollar endorsement deals. At the tender age of 24, he has a bank account that aspiring investment bankers can only dream about.

But that is not enough. It is necessary for the PGA to compensate Woods’ contributions to the game with more money because $64 million is obviously not enough.

Yet, Woods’ biggest qualm is not over earnings it is over the ownership of his rights. Under the current system, the PGA has control of Woods’ rights. Curiously, this very issue impeded Tiger from signing his record-breaking $100 million, five-year deal with Nike. Of course more money isn’t a motivation, Tiger.

Never before has any sport depended on one player like golf depends on Tiger Woods. In fact the tour needs Woods more than Woods needs the tour. If he left, he would still be able to compete in 18 of the 20 events he played in this year. He has shown the PGA Tour where the real center of the golf world is: wherever Woods is playing. Perhaps he ought to be flattered that he is the modern day personification of golf, not try to find its monetary value. The only people being exploited are the impoverished, Nike factory workers in Thailand whose basement wages provide Woods with his astronomical earnings.

For someone who touted himself as the Michael Jordan of golf, he is not acting in Jordanesque fashion. Jordan never received a percentage to the NBA TV rights. He never complained that he was the ambassador of basketball and that his face appeared in every basketball commercial.

The Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year contender has lost his sportsman-like ways. Must we question Woods’ goals on the Tour: did he really want to accumulate ten wins this year, or did he want to top $10 million?

If Woods continues to assert his current beliefs, he’ll solve his problem. No one will want to use a greedy gazillionaire’s image anyway.

Archived article by Amanda Angel