Sunday, December 13, 2009


Okay, so this whole Tiger Woods drama continues to play out in the media. In a way, it's the perfect story.

Tiger is an international icon, one of the most successful and successfully marketed athletes of all time (probably fighting with David Beckham for second place behind Michael Jordan). He's young, he's good looking, he's fiery on the course, and he's likable. He's won with dominance, he's won in dramatic fashion. He is sponsored by some of the biggest, most recognizable brands in the world (Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, AT&T, Accenture). He has a beautiful wife and two young children. Oh, and he's earned over one billion dollars from winnings and endorsements, making him by far the world's richest athlete.

And beyond all this, he has a meticulously crafted public image. He appeals to so many different groups: he represents youth, social progress, consummate skill and athleticism, passion and grit. Put simply, he has been propped up as the ultimate Good Guy, and to this point that reputation has been untouchable.

Honestly, I am not very much interested in the actual story of what's happening in Tiger Woods's personal life. That is to say, whether he been unfaithful to his wife, whether he is a bad father, what happened with that accident. To me, it is a family drama like any other -- I'm sorry that all of them have to go through what is certainly a painful process, but I'm not going to spend my time seeking the details and playing armchair psychologist. What I am interested in, however, is society's reaction to the Scandal of it all.

This story is being reported from many different angles by many different outlets. Sports media have an obvious interest in the ramifications for golf, which has never before benefited from having a superstar like Tiger. He has raised the profile of the sport to new heights. Gossip media, ranging from tabloids to celebrity magazines like People feel they have a stake because of Tiger's star power. Magazines like TIME and Forbes take an interest in his status as an American icon and one of the richest, most powerful men in sport.

The mixture of celebrity, gossip, sport, wealth, etc., makes this a story with unbelievable appeal. And if there's one thing Americans love, it's heroes. Boy, do we love our heroes. We cherish the story of the man or woman who comes out of the blue to win it all. We love athletes that perform under pressure. Hell, we love just about anyone who overcomes great odds to succeed. We love winners.

But if there's one thing we love every bit as much as a success story, it's the Fall. You know what I'm talking about. Good Guy soars to heights of Prosperity-and-Bliss, then is betrayed by his own Iniquity and experiences a precipitous Descent-into-Ignominy. We love to tear our idols down. Those bastards that thought they could keep pulling the wool over our eyes, making us believe they were perfect, happy, and better than us. They had all the success in the world. Tiger had fame, fortune, family, youth, health, and a sterling reputation. But his own Vice led to a great Fall, and his world will never be the same again.

It's the oldest of all stories and the one whose retelling will never lose its appeal. So I expect the various media organizations to wring every possible drop out of this story for years to come. Writers will turn the public into the victim, stridently decrying Woods's deception: How dare he make us believe he was so good? By a couple years from now, everyone will have had a turn at victimhood -- the public, the PGA, the Woods family, the media, Tiger himself, and the baby Jesus. Long tracts will be written about our shattered trust, about the responsibilities of celebrities to their fans, about the proper limits of media inquiry into the lives of athletes. All facets of the story will be covered in print media, digital media, television and radio media. Who knows, a movie might already be in the works (if you think some studio executives haven't already commissioned scripts on the Rise and Fall of Tiger Woods, you may be giving humanity too much credit).

But my feeling is that some years from now, if and when Woods gets back to golfing, we'll see the resurrection of his public image. As I see it, we are in the second act of a tripartite cliché:

Act I: The Rise.
Act II: The Fall (current).
Act III: The Redemption.

We as a public have been enthralled by Tiger's meteoric rise. Now, the audience savors the deliciousness of his disgrace. But we all know that humanity is imperfect, we all know deep down that he is still a human being, even if he was regarded as something more than that for a long time. And this, I think, is why Tiger is going to be back -- because we love the story of Redemption. We are yearning for Act III, wherein the repentant sinner is reformed and claws his way back up the mountain. This, too, is one of the oldest, most formative stories of our culture. Even Michael Jackson, who languished in a state of perpetual fallenness while he lived, was granted the status of Redeemed upon his death.

I feel pompous predicting it, but it seems almost inevitable to me: Give it a few years and (if he starts winning at golf again) the media coverage surrounding Tiger Woods will be celebrating the redemption of a man who has passed through the fire and overcome his shortcomings to regain some amount of personal peace and prosperity. The old story of betrayal and fall will grow stale and there will be nothing further to profit from it. The public may love seeing its idols disgraced, but it also wants to forgive, and this is where the money is going to be. The American media may be brutal, but when it sniffs money, you can count on it to discover its forgiving side. He won't be the same icon he once was, but Tiger will be back.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Space Travel

How timely!

Over the last few weeks, I have brought up to my friends my desire to one day go to outer space. Yesterday, in fact, I talked to Jessica about how I hoped space tourism would become affordable during our lifetimes. I don't know if everyone has this instinct to explore, but it's something I've been getting more and more in touch with. Can you imagine it? If commercial space flight actually reduces travel times the way it is projected to, then we could see a revolution over the next 20 years.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This being my inaugural post on an actual "blog", I suppose it is germane to create a statement of purpose.

This blog, as its name indicates, has no specific theme. As I've matured a bit (at least I hope that's what's been happening), I've felt a greater inclination to write out my thoughts. Now, there are some thoughts you want to keep private, some thoughts you want to share with just a few people, and some thoughts you wouldn't mind sharing with anyone who might be interested. For the first, there exist private journals. For the second, we have our close friends. And for the last, we have this sprawling digital sea, the Internet. This blog will serve that last purpose -- a place to record those thoughts I wouldn't mind sharing with anyone interested.

Things I expect to be writing about:

  • My thoughts on matters political, social, and philosophical.
  • My thoughts on books I've been reading.
  • Personal reflections on life, growth, personal relationships platonic and romantic, etc.
  • Little thoughts, daydreams, fun facts, videos.
  • My traveling experiences.
  • Music.
  • Anything else I damn well please!
And of course, the very point of having a public journal is to share. That means interaction. I welcome feedback, responses, conversation, and synergy.