The concept of infidelity in sports isn’t exactly new but is seemingly ever-present now with the help of technology, TMZ, message boards and other instant media. Stories about Parker’s divorce, Brett Favre’s alleged racy text messages and Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s sex-extortion case are just a click, tweet and moment away.
Two stories in 2009 shook the landscape more than any other athlete-infidelity tales. In the early morning hours of July 4, Tennessee football hero Steve McNair was shot to death by his mistress, Sahel Kazemi, a 20-year-old waitress. Roughly five months later, after Thanksgiving, Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant and a tree, leading to revelation after revelation that he’d cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren, multiple times.
After months of nonstop Tiger coverage, one would think the average athlete might learn his lesson and see Tiger as a wake-up call. But in various interviews with athletes, spouses, girlfriends and people who work closely with the professional leagues, most agreed it hasn’t prompted many lifestyle changes.
"I don’t think athletes learn by osmosis," says Randy Kessler, a high-profile family law attorney who represents athletes, celebrities and spouses. "They’re human like all of us."
Kessler, based in Atlanta, says the culture of adultery is so pervasive that he stresses to his clients that they become educated, proactive and realistic. He recently suggested to one of his NBA clients that he include a clause in his prenuptial agreement that states if his wife files for divorce because he cheated, he won’t be penalized financially.
He told the NBA player it was likely he’d cheat on his wife and it was likely he’d be caught.
"I thought he was going to hit me," Kessler says. "I thought he was going to be mad. You know what? He said, ‘I want one of those; I want a bad-boy provision.’ He already knew what it was."
Kessler says about half of his office’s 500 active cases involve adultery.
None of this surprises Steven Ortiz, an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State who has spent nearly 20 years studying the wives of professional athletes and what he calls "husband-oriented" sports marriages. In one study, Ortiz interviewed 47 wives married to men in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.
He chalks up the pattern of behavior to a patriarchal society and what he calls "spoiled-athlete syndrome." Since childhood, he says, athletes are enabled because of their obvious talent. And in the same way the culture of celebrity is celebrated, athletic heroes are worshipped.
I was listening to a long interview one night a decade or so ago with Michael Jordan and he said that the only teammate that he knew that didnâ€™t cheat was Steve Kerr.
When Tiger debuted on tour, it was planned, calculated, sponsored. "Hello world," he said in his first press conference, his sentences already ending in Nike swooshes and dollar signs. When he won his first major, it was impressive but expected, like Lindsay Lohan’s STD collection. Daly crashed at countless Days Inns on the Nationwide Tour before qualifying for the PGA in 1991 and — improbably — winning the PGA Championship later that year. When he found out he’d made the field (as the ninth alternate), he spent all night driving odd-numbered interstates from Memphis to Indiana. He changed shoes in the Crooked Stick parking lot and proceeded to leave his footprints all over the field.
"I don’t have anybody to blame for this win but me," he said after his victory, and he’s carried that same attitude out of the locker room and into his life. The wins haven’t come as often — and not at all since 2004 — but he’s continued to hack away, even though most of the names from the ’91 leaderboards have swapped their three irons for 2.5 kids and a life away from the Tour.
Off the course, Daly has long since filled his "Nobody to Blame But Me" file cabinet. He’s been married in a casino, remained committed to the mullet hairstyle and was arrested outside a North Carolina Hooters, successfully completing the white trash trifecta.
Surprisingly his ruddy-cheeked Forsyth County mugshot (where he looked disturbingly like Janet Reno in an orange jumpsuit) wasn’t his lowest point. For that, he could pick between being allegedly stabbed by his estranged wife, selling his own memorabilia across from the entrance to Augusta National or recording a country album with half of Hootie and the Blowfish. By the time he launched his own clothing line — one that featured a lion as a logo — Daly looked less like the King of the Jungle and more like an aging attraction at a nature preserve.
But he’s still out there, still trying, even though he’s long since lost the sponsors for his clubs and golf balls. In the past five years, he’s missed more cuts than he’s made, but he’s making an effort to leave some of his bad habits in a roadside bunker. He still chain smokes and pounds Diet Coke, but since having lap band surgery he no longer sweats sawmill gravy. Daly has dropped over one hundred pounds so far — the equivalent of that surly girl from the Twilight series — so he and Tiger Woods both weigh in at 185 pounds.
I tried to link to the Nike commercial featuring Tiger Woods today but Nike Golf had it taken off of YouTube (while oddly leaving thousands of other Tiger Nike ads online). Letâ€™s just assume you have seen it.
By running a commercial that is essentially what Tiger has said is a private matter, doesnâ€™t he commoditize everything he has been saying about being sorry and remorseful and at the same time totally wipe away the line between Tiger Woods the person and Tiger Woods the Nike spokesperson. I joke a lot about selling out here but this may be the most complete expressions of that I have ever seen.
I like both Nike products and Tiger Woods as a golfer but I was at a loss that both of them would go and do this. I understand Nikeâ€™s need to â€œrebrandâ€ Tiger for their own purposes but it is almost as if this commercial further solidifies him to his past. As one commentator said last night, â€œMany of us have existential conversations with our deceased parents as we reflect on life but most of us keep those private.â€
First of all, letâ€™s just get this out in the open, is this not the greatest family photo you have ever seen. Anyway, back to my topic.
Somewhere in the middle of the Tiger Woods scandal, I was reading about what it would take for Tiger to get back on top of not only this golf game but how he could turn Tiger Inc around. It was based on the idea that Tiger Woods was a really good guy but he was in a bad spot. If he was just nicer to the fans, nicer to the media, cared more about other golfers, things would turn around for him.
In other words, according to the media, Tiger Woods ignores the fans, barely tolerates the media, doesnâ€™t care about other golfers, and as Deadspin crudely puts it, enjoys the company of women who are provided to him for a price (but letâ€™s not call it what it really is)
No, it’s not exactly prostitution â€” but these girls are flown in from LA to Vegas for a weekend of all-expenses and free drinks and admission into this world of Ã¼ber-rich sleaziness. If a famous athlete takes an interest, they certainly have the option to do whatever it is they want (no pressure!). So Rachel? She basically got caught in Melbourne on one of her many girl-corralling expeditions for one of her most important clients, which is a crucial part of her job.
Mike Wise of the Washington Post puts Tigerâ€™s issues into perspective here and speaks from his own experiences.
Tiger Woods has an emotional void in his life. This void must be huge. For him to be where he is today, this deep emptiness must have consumed him, must be something he has been living with for a long time. Moreover, he has to live with his emptiness while being fully aware that everyone in the world knows just what a manufactured lie his image has been.
I was listening to the radio when the details of the Chris Brown assault on Rihanna took place. It was a violent, violent assault and the majority of women who called in said, â€œI still like him because of how great his music is.â€ It didnâ€™t matter that he almost beat Rihanna to death. It was the same with Michael Jackson and the millions who followed him as a weird kind of role model after the allegations involving him came out. For millions, as long as you are good at something, the fans will be there as society still prefers the manufactured lie of his image and as soon as he starts to win again, they will follow him like they did before. If you doubt me, check out exhibit a) Kobe Bryant and to a lesser extent exhibit b) Michael Vick. Once they started to win, all was forgiven. For all of the problems that University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino had in the off-season, do you think fans in Louisville care if â€œcoachâ€ gets them into the Big Dance come March. While I believe in second chances, part of me wonders if society has become the great enablers of those who can run fast, coach, or sing.
Winning and success are everything in todayâ€™s culture, including the church. I keep thinking of Jimmy Swaggart not following the Assemblies of Godâ€™s recommendations for pastors who morally fail. The reason why? His ministry would fall apart if he stepped down. When it happened the second time, rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told those at Family Worship Center that "The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business." Years ago a friend told me while his church was going through a moral failure in church leadership, the focus was not so much on the moral failure but what would happen to giving and revenue. I was critical of the approach at the time but as churches have gotten larger and more expensive to run, they are a lot like Tiger Inc., they are industries onto themselves. When they fail, they take down a tremendous amount of people and dreams with them.
In the end history shows us that most of these men and women (Iâ€™m talk to you Marion Jones) are a lot like Sir Ernest Shackleton or Bobby Fischer. They are really, really talented at one thing and many of them are train wrecks outside of their chosen profession. Even if they arenâ€™t train wrecks, they suffer from the same weaknesses that many of us do, sex addictions, financial mistakes, domestic violence, and all sorts of other weaknesses that put clouds over Camelot.
Oddly enough we struggle to accept these realities. We are a culture desperate for heroes and we place unreachable standards on many of them that we do have. Barack Obama rallied a nation but even he canâ€™t overcome a hyper partisan Washington, yet pundits wonder where all of the magic went while forgetting that the system is to blame.
I wonder if our search for heroes comes from a time when one person could make a difference. Like when Errol Flynn really could clean up Dodge or when Mr. Smith could make a difference in Washington (which was attacked by the press and the political establishment when it came out). While I am sure that is a reason, I also think it is because we are a culture of observers. Why go golfing when I can play Leaderboard Golf (for those geeks out there that just got the C-64 reference, I salute you). Why do anything anymore when some product will simulate it for you? As a culture of observers (as opposed to previous generations who were doers), we become obsessed with those who actually can do something cool, make a difference or capture our attention. I bought Mark a Coby Snapp video camera this year for Christmas. When we were setting it up, I told him that this means he doesnâ€™t have to watch YouTube videos, he can do something that is worthy of being filmed on YouTube. The idea is that if he is focused on doing something cool himself, he doesnâ€™t have to waste his life watching someone else do it for him.
I donâ€™t know if Mark will be filming himself racing down a mountain bike trail at breakneck speed or if it will be something else (he went to bed early tonight so he could think about it) but I think itâ€™s a noble goal for us all.
What if spent less time watching television in 2010 and spent more time creating content, spent less time reading celebrity garbage and more time reading original writing and reporting, spent less time playing games and more time outside doing stuff? Less time caring about what Tiger Woods does and more time on the golf courses ourselves.
Iâ€™ll post my goals for 2010 tomorrow. Think about yours as well.
According to the logic of JaMarcus Russell, the reason that I am not in the NFL is that in high school, my receivers never made any plays for me (as opposed to the fact that I have an inaccurate noodle arm). The legacy of JaMarcus Russell will be like a lot of Oakland Raider draft picks: Lots of talent, lack of polish, work ethic, and maturity. In many ways he is the second coming of Todd Marinovich. It has to be frustrating for the Oakland Raiders to see such a regression in not only his physical play but his understanding of what it takes to succeed. He may never start another game for any NFL team.
Interesting article on how IMG is handling the Tiger Woods debacle :: "Specifically," Posner writes, "sources at two of Woodsâ€™s corporate sponsors told The Daily Beast that Steinberg has been working furiously to get them to issue public statements demonstrating that they ‘had full faith in Tiger and backed him completely.’" And according to Posner, while Nike is on board with the plan, Gillette and Gatorade are not, and Accenture is wavering. :: I personally think Woods is done as a marketing pitchman and his ability to pitch will be very limited from here on in. Like Wendy said after reading a news report that said that Tag Heuerwas dropping Tiger from itâ€™s latest ad campaign, how do I show her a pamphlet with Tiger Woods on the front and say, â€œYou can give me one of those for Christmasâ€. Also, he just didnâ€™t have an affair, he had affairs with women whose lifestyle is not exactly what most Tag Heuer owners ascribe to. That and the Tiger Woods Tag Heuer watch is one ugly watch.
Dan Pompei has a story on how Jay Cutler needs to grow up and stop being a baby. Heâ€™s another QB that needs to grow up quick or risk having a career trajectory similar to Jeff George. Mike Shanahan couldnâ€™t get him to grow up, his immaturity lead to him being traded from the Broncos to the Bears (burning bridges as he went) and it ended the honeymoon pretty quickly in Chicago. We could start a pool on where he ends up next. Oakland anyone?
More can be found here. This is just weird and I donâ€™t know who it portrays as being worse. It gives the impression that their marriage is more of a financial transaction and not a marriage.
I donâ€™t know, maybe I should not be shocked, the rich have married for wealth, prestige, treaties, and in the case of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, she married him because he had a better New York apartment (she was joking one night on Letterman). I guess $55 million (or how many the actually amount actually is) would make sense of two years of â€œdutiful blissâ€ but there would seem to be a lot better options for both of them. (like working out their issues in ways that involve lawyers on both sides).
Heâ€™s a golfer, not a moral-crusading politician. Saying nothing may not convince people who suspect this was a wild marital incident â€“ TMZ.com is reporting some of Woodsâ€™ injuries came from Elin, not the car crash â€“ but no amount of explaining will do that.
People are going to believe what they want. Heâ€™s a cad. She clubbed him. Whatever. Itâ€™s too late for damage control now.
The only problem is those pesky cops. No one likes being lied to, but the police can do something about it. Unless Elinâ€™s unbelievable story is somehow true, then this gets a little tricky.
Letâ€™s say this was as crazy as you can dream up. I wouldnâ€™t blame Elin or Tiger, in the heat of the moment, from trying to concoct a story that made it sound a little more innocent. Other than the fire hydrant, thereâ€™s no aggrieved party here. No crime was committed â€“ unless you want to stick Tiger with driving without a seat belt.
They should be able to move on.
The police may see it differently.
So what does and doesnâ€™t get explained to investigators â€“ comments that will become public via the police report and could cause further legal headaches â€“ is paramount.
Which is why you canâ€™t blame Tiger and Elin for delaying the interview a couple of days, or indefinitely, if possible.
As much as America wants to know the truth, itâ€™s their life, perfect or not. Iâ€™d be stunned if Tiger didnâ€™t just politely hand over his information, lawyer up and deal with whatever he needs to deal with in his typical manner â€“ privately.