In the world of professional sports, March is usually the ugly duckling on the calendar. It’s the only month of the year with no MLB or NFL action. Neither the NBA nor the NHL playoffs have begun and none of the major sports leagues hold a draft. Even tennis and golf leave fans dry in March, as neither holds a major tournament during the month. In the latter half of the month, college basketball will whet our appetites with March Madness, but professional sports offers little more than an opportune time to go on an exotic spring break vacation without fear of missing anything relevant.
Thankfully, in 2010, Howard Stern has come to the rescue. The self-proclaimed “King of All Media” is hosting the competition of the decade one week from today. Next Wednesday, Stern will be holding the “Tiger Woods Mistress Beauty Pageant,” an event which is open to any of the 13 women reported by The National Enquirer to have had an affair with Woods. Four of the 13 have committed to participating while a fifth, Rachel Uchitel, allegedly wants to compete, but cannot due to a settlement she and Woods agreed upon. The women have been lured by a $100,000 grand prize. While a beauty pageant obviously doesn’t fit the traditional definition of a sport, anything involving Tigers Woods and a competition qualifies, especially considering that the most dominant athlete alive is in the midst of an indefinite leave of absence.
Creating the competition is a stroke of pure genius by Stern, a man who is notorious for his outlandish stunts (Stern surprised the audience with assless chaps to the VMAs long before Brüno had the idea). Stern has garnered serious ink in the press through this stunt and he didn’t even have to put up the prize money – an adultery-promoting sponsor took care of that. Stern also has an opportunity to show off his judging skills as rumors swirl that Fox is courting him to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol. (Stern would be selling out if he took the job, but he said it’d be “criminal” if turned down a huge sum of money to spend a few months per year judging what he described as a “s***** karaoke contest.”)
The contest serves to make a complete mockery of Woods and further decimate whatever is left of the man’s image. The greatest golfer in the world is sure to be embarrassed when his former mistresses go on a well-listened to program to discuss Tiger’s cheating ways and possibly reveal intimate details about Woods’ sexual behavior.
All the evidence points to the notion that Woods would love to resume his pre-scandal standing as a model citizen. While such an outcome is probably impossible, Woods can hope to come close. If his “apology speech” from a few weeks ago is any indication, Woods is a calculating individual who is devoid of emotion and is determined to do everything in his power to rebuild his image. As ESPN’s Bill Simmons put it, Woods “came off like a horny robot.” Woods read a speech he may or may not have written in which he apologized and feigned emotion as he desperately tried to win back the American public.
If Tiger wants to rebuild his image, he needs to take a page out of Kobe Bryant’s book. In the summer of 2003, Bryant was charged with rape. Although the rape charges were eventually dropped because Bryant’s accuser elected not to testify in court, Bryant admitted to adultery. Within a few years, his image was fully resurrected and he resumed raking in millions for endorsing companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola.
For Tiger to have similar post-scandal success with sponsors, he needs to do exactly what Bryant did: show the world a human side, show remorse, and then continue dominating the sport that made him famous. The latest reports claim that Tiger is out of rehab and working on his golf game. If he wants people to forget (or at least stop focusing on) the tabloid stories that have been flying about Woods, he needs to start winning tournaments.
Until he does so, I’ll be watching a different competition on T.V. We can thank Howard Stern for giving sports fans something to watch during an otherwise slow March.
Original Author: Zack Slabotsky