PCA Commentary: Tiger Woods’ Nike Commercial

Tiger Woods in his new post-sex scandal Nike commercial

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about golf.  I don’t play the sport, and for me watching it is about as interesting as going to a quilt show.  Perhaps it’s somebody’s bag, but it’s not mine.  However, nobody can escape the phenomenon that is Tiger Woods.  One of the greatest players of the sport, Tiger Woods is an incredible sportsman who has mastered a game that is dominated by middle aged white men.  More so, the world has not been able to escape Tiger Woods since his secret life of mistresses and elicit affairs was revealed to the world a matter of months ago.  Personally, I have not found Tiger Woods’ sex life to be all that interesting, nor do I find it news worthy.  Although his reputation has now been tarnished, Tiger is still the athlete that he always was.  His affairs change nothing.  Furthermore, he has not done anything that millions of men have not done throughout the centuries.  I am not condoning his actions, but men in your own neighbourhoods and in your own family have most likely done the same.  Even in the world of pop culture cheaters have still maintained.  Bill Clinton did it and we put him back into office.  Prince Charles did it and he remains to be one of the most respected figure heads in the world.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt did it and he’s considered one of the greatest figures in 20th Century history.  JFK did it and he is considered a martyr.  Bruce Springsteen, Hugh Grant, Humphrey Bogart, George Burns, Clark Gable, Jude Law, Sean Penn, Arthur Miller, Ethan Hawke, Bill Cosby, Bono, Johnny Cash, William Hartnell, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Brad Pitt all cheated on their wives at one point or another and are still respected and beloved by fans.  Truth is, Tiger Woods isn’t a special case.  In fact, he finds himself in a very good company of philanderers.   

Tiger and his late father and mentor, Earl Woods, during happier times

However, what has caught my attention is the brand new commercial that Tiger Woods has done with Nike that will be premiering this weekend during the Master Tournament.  A sombre Tiger Woods faces the camera in silence as the voice of his late father and mentor, Earl Woods, questions him about his sex scandal in an authoritative, yet paternal, tone.  The sound clips, taken from a documentary featured on Tiger: The Authorized DVD Collection has been manipulated to create one of the most powerful and bravest commercials that Nike has ever created.  Earl says to Tiger:

“Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are and did you learn anything?”

While some media critics are calling the commercial “distasteful,” I feel that this was a powerful statement and an incredibly brave move by Tiger Woods and his people.  In his silence as his father lectures him, the once powerful Tiger Woods looks broken, ashamed and incredibly human.  While most men in the spotlight are prone to avoid the questions and innuendos, or flat out deny the affairs (i.e. Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”), Tiger Woods has faced up to his mistakes in a public forum.  I mean, how much more public and prolific can you be when airing this commercial during one of the US’s biggest televised golf events?  But, although it is obvious that the lecture that Earl is giving is being stated out of context, a more critical and introspective discourse is being presented.  Instead of just dismissing Tiger Woods off as being a scumbag, perhaps we should be promoting discussion, find out what he is thinking, what his feelings are and, most of all, if he learned anything.  This scandal has changed Tiger Woods’ life and career forever, and I am willing to bet that he has learnt a lot.

No matter what Tiger does in his personal life, it will not change his record as one of the greatest figures in the history of American sports

But also, I think that Nike has showed both integrity and ingenious by creating this commercial.  When all of Tiger’s other sponsors bailed ship on the fallen sports hero, Nike stood by Tiger, showing a level of respect and commitment to a man who has done them well throughout the years  Furthermore, the commercial is one of the most potent, and original, commercials ever made.  There is no way a sponsor could let a smiling Tiger go on television and hock a product as if nothing happened.  To deal with the scandal directly is an incredibly bold move, and it has obviously worked.  The commercial has made international headlines and has captured the attention of people who have no interest in golf.  I mean, I’m writing about it here, aren’t I?  I have a feeling that Nike will probably sell a few extra pairs of shoes.

But the biggest statement that this commercial makes is that Tiger Woods is willing to move on and start the next chapter of his life.  Although he is still picking up the broken pieces of his shattered image, he will still be able to play a mean game a golf, and will still be one of the legends of sports.  However, in the long run, what has happened in Tiger’s personal life is the business of Tiger and his family.  Yet, despite this, Tiger Woods has come to his public in a commercial and acknowledged that he made a mistake.  He is ready to move on.  Perhaps we all should too.

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