What is a professional sports organization to do when its biggest star has fallen?
Tiger Woods has been the single greatest draw in the PGA since he burst onto the scene in 1996. His superstar status, combined with a pristine public image, placed him at the head of the list of America’s wealthiest athletes (a prestigious list to headline).
The fact is that Tiger Woods became the biggest name in American sports. But you know what they say – the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Loyal Homer discusses the problems that Tiger has brought on himself since his indiscretions became public. He has already lost in millions from sponsorships and endorsements, and may be losing his family. Whether or not you believe they are warranted, those are pretty stiff penalties to pay for cheating on your wife.
Loyal Homer also asks the question “What law did Tiger Woods break?”
The answer to that question is ‘None’. Tiger did not commit a single crime. So why are all of his sponsors dropping him? If he didn’t break any laws, they have no need to distance themselves, right?
Sponsors are severing ties with Tiger for one reason – he is no longer a positive ambassador to represent their organization. And just as sponsors are taking measures to distance themselves from Tiger in the interest of protecting their brands, I am awarding the verdict to Babe Ruthless for accurately highlighting the responsibility of the PGA to protect its brand first.
As Babe Ruthless points out, the PGA has established itself as a “gentleman’s game”. Honor and respect are a MAJOR factor in a sport where the athletes are expected to report their own violations and keep their own scores (for example). There can be no more dishonorable perception than the one currently held by Woods, and the PGA must take action to address that problem.
There can be no denying that Tiger’s scandal has become a huge distraction to the Tour. There can also be no denying that his return to the game will create a brand new media frenzy, which will become another major distraction. The problem with the situation is that right now, Tiger Woods still controls all the cards.
He is clearly not willing to publicly partner with the PGA in dealing with the carnage from this scandal. Rather than take the responsible steps of working WITH the PGA in transitioning himself back into the game, he has become a recluse. He has withdrawn completely from society, only popping his head up out of the sand when he wants to make a public statement, refusing to answer ANY questions in the process. He continues to try and dictate exactly what happens around him, with little to no regard for how it affects others (a trait he appears to have mastered through his infidelity).
When he ultimately decides to return to competition, one can only assume he will attempt to handle it in the same controlling and selfish manner. He will hold a press conference to announce his return to the game, likely having given no forewarning to Tour officials, and the PGA will be left to negotiate the logistics of a press circus that was unanticipated, but will most certainly ensue at that first tournament.
Tiger needs to understand, though, that he is not bigger than the PGA Tour. The PGA does not exist to cater to each of his whims and desires. While he has become a major financial draw for the organization, it existed just fine BEFORE he came along, and it will continue to plug along after he has left the game.
There is no way to avoid the many problems for the PGA and its OTHER players (who SHOULD be the PGA’s primary concern right now) upon Tiger’s inevitable return to the game. The PGA can take measures, however, to PREPARE for it by setting their own terms for his return. It would allow them to regain control of the situation, which is necessary to help protect their brand.
By suspending Tiger Woods, the PGA can send a very clear message to Tiger that his actions were not acceptable for an ambassador of the game of golf, and that it will not tolerate distractions as grand as his from the game. It is the Professional GOLFERS Association, not the Professional TIGER WOODS Association. The PGA needs to act in the best interest of ALL of its members.