Thursday, June 20, 2013

204. Fans and the power to forgive

Tiger Woods is the best golfer on the planet again, and Nike is marketing Woods around the slogan that “winning takes care of everything.”

Among the “everything” that winning takes care of is, seemingly, the forgiveness of his fans. Woods was not only the best golfer before his admitted “transgressions,” he was also the most popular. Television ratings when he was in contention to win a golf tournament were significantly better than when he was not.

With Woods winning again, his fans seem to have returned. In an informal Today News poll of about 4000 votes, 65 percent said that fans should give him a second chance.

A second chance?

The concept is interesting, particularly since Woods had never really seemed appreciative of his fans to begin with—it was always about him. When he spoke of his transgressions, he said he felt “entitled.”  And, he has not really asked for a second chance.

Brad Kane of, wrote, “In Tiger's exact case, he hasn't really asked for the public to forgive him for all the sordid headlines generated by his good old-fashioned sex scandal. He's not really the warm and fuzzy, easily emotional type. But the public has given him a pass, anyway.”

The question is who am I to give Woods a second chance? He didn’t cheat on me, he didn’t ruin my marriage or destroy my family. That fact often seems to get lost in fans’ inflated view of themselves and the value we place on our favorite player or favorite team on winning.

This column isn’t really about Woods, it is about all the athletes and entertainers, the fans that become emotionally involved with them, and the ability of fans to give them a second chance.

This is about people like football player Michael Vick, cyclist Lance Armstrong and singer Chris Brown.  As the television show Glee asked in regards to Brown, “Can we separate the art and the artist?”

Each has their circumstance, but for me it is simple—I am supporting the quarterback who didn’t murder dogs, the cyclist who didn’t cheat to win, and the singer who didn’t beat his girlfriend.

I am not a big golf fan to begin with, and Woods’ success or lack of it is a matter of indifference to me, but if I were to support, or root, for a golfer, it would be one who didn’t feel “entitled” to cheat on his wife—or even a whining multi-millionaire like Phil Mickelson. There are a lot of golfers, assumingly, who are really good guys, who just don’t win enough—and that’s all that many fans seem to care about.

Fans need to realize that it is okay to root for guys who finish in second place.

It is a weird relationship and interesting that fans feel like they are a part of the athletes and entertainers—with their self-fabricated intimate connection and the power to grant forgiveness.  Perhaps we need to consider boundaries.

Many athletes and entertainers have been worshipped since a young age—when their talent first surfaced.  And while most athletes, and probably all entertainers, desire to be liked—what they want most is to be relevant. We forget that the fans pay their salaries—they owe the fans, not vise-versa.  They love the atmosphere and the excitement (and the financial rewards) of their profession—and few really care if their fans are you or me—or from Cleveland, Toronto or Miami.

Sadly, winning does seem to take care of everything, just ask LeBron James. After “The Decision” he was one of the most despised athletes in sports—until he won a championship. Now even Cleveland would welcome him back.

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