You can spend weeks climbing the tallest mountain while falling off it will kill or maim you in seconds. You can spend 25 years and millions of dollars crafting an image and a brand only to see it all go up in flames in the time it takes to ‘sext' a Vegas VIP hostess.
You can go from being lionized to Leno-ized in the blink of an eye:
Fore!!! (Five!!! Six!!!...Eleven!!!)
What's Tiger Woods' new name? "Cheetah" (Credit: Brent's Golf Blog)
"Last Friday, Tiger Woods hit a tree and a bunch of ladies fell out," -Seth Meyers on "Saturday Night Live's" "Weekend Update"
"In fact, so many women are coming forward they are now doing a TV show about it called, ‘Tiger and Kate Plus 8,'" -Jay Leno
Tiger Woods' marital indiscretions have turned him from one of the world's most respected athletes and celebrities into a literal joke almost overnight. And it just keeps on getting worse. As the body count of his dalliances increases by the minute, the world's greatest golfer and the athletic standard bearer for grace and excellence under pressure is being crushed by the weight of each 110lb model (or 140lb pancake house waitress) he stepped out with as well as by the weight of nation that feels almost as deceived as his wife Elin.
Not just because he lied, but because he willfully and wantonly constructed that image and that brand with apparently no intention of adhering to its ideals. Because he was duplicitous and conniving, selfish and brazen and because we all seemingly delight in watching the carefully constructed Jenga tower crash to the table almost as much as we delight in building it.
But mostly because he lied. With no apparent regard for his wife or two small children.
From the time he thrilled Mike Douglas and a national television audience with his skills at the age of two, through his six Junior World Championships, three U.S Junior Amateur championships, three U.S Amateur championships, an NCAA title, 14 majors and a billion dollars earned on the golf course and through endorsement deals, Woods has been a picture of concentration, focus and control. Throughout it all Woods and his team of agents, advisors and close friends carefully crafted an image of near infallibility, style and grace.
Yes, he was human. But barely. Both on and off the course. Woods was too good to be true and he was the picture perfect image of inspiration to kids and adults of all races, colors and creeds.
That's how Team Woods built him. It made them all ridiculously wealthy.
But it was a house of cards and it all came tumbling down on Woods on, ironically enough, Black Friday. All because he is human and he is fallible and it was always too good to be true, despite what we wanted to and were led to think.
And it can never go back to how it was. No matter how well Tiger plays and no matter what he does from here on out that specific image that took years to shape is gone forever.
The more information we get on all Tiger's indiscretions the more it seems like we shouldn't have been surprised that those still waters ran so deep. How else do you explain Jesper Parnevik, a peer of Woods' and the man who introduced Tiger to Elin, wasting almost no time at all in verbally hammering Woods before the dust from his car accident and the fallout from Woods' first reported tryst had barely settled?
"I would be especially sad about it since I'm kind of - I feel really sorry for Elin - since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him," Parnevik said. "We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron",
And when given the chance in a Golf Channel interview to back off his statement Parnevik said, "Oh, no, it's nothing I regret. I stand by everything. He lost all my respect. All the respect I had for the guy is gone."
Many people have a difficult time believing Parnevik flew off the handle or was just defending a friend of the family. More likely, if not at least possibly, that friend of the family had confided in Parnevik and his wife about issues she was facing and/or Parnevik had an inkling of what Woods was doing when he wasn't on the practice tee.
Most other tour pros have been quiet on the situation or have deferred by calling it a private matter. But their silence is deafening in that there is no outpouring of support for Tiger. Woods is responsible for increasing the size of their purses and their portfolios and you simply don't slay the goose that lays those golden eggs. Even longtime Woods rival Phil Mickelson has remained mum on the situation. Though it's not hard to envision Mickelson smiling smugly with a bit of satisfaction that a rival who stole most of his limelight and who paraded his wife and kids in front of the cameras to support his image was found to be the fraud Phil may have suspected or known him to be.
Woods has long found peace and tranquility on the golf course. He gets lost in competition and relishes the opportunities and challenges that competing against the best in the world brings. But that too is over. While he could previously control a gallery with an icy stare for such missteps as the shutter of a camera clicking, Woods is likely to find that his ability to intimidate and lord over golfers and galleries alike is as dead as his marriage.
People do not like being lied to and trust has got to be earned.
Other athletes have made far more embarrassing messes of their personal lives and made it out of the public spotlight alive. NBAer Shawn Kemp and NFLer Travis Henry can celebrate Father's Day in almost any city they happen to wake up in on that day. They're fine. Ray Lewis was implicated in a murder earlier in his Baltimore Raven career and is today held up as a shining example of leadership on the football field.
It can be done.
Tiger Woods' web of lies was so deep and so intricate that right now it's hard to envision a day when this will all be something he and the other members of his foursome can laugh about. Rather, ‘Tiger Woods' and ‘foursome' will have entirely different connotations. Especially if more women and more details are introduced to this already tawdry and titillating story. And there will be more. We probably haven't even scratched the surface.
But if anyone is capable of recovering from a terrible shot or eleven it's Woods. And here's how he's going to do it; he's going to have to come up with an imaginative recovery shot. He's going to reinvent himself. Not on the golf course, though it remains to be seen what this debacle does to his inhuman focus on the course, but rather in the public eye.
People are suckers for an "I'm sorry" and some sincere tears. Witness the disparity in public opinion in regard to Andy Pettite versus Roger Clemens. I'd bet my golf balls that Woods will, after the body count rises and then evens out, have a televised ‘Come to Jesus' moment in front of the cameras during which he clears the air of all the lies and deceit, ‘sincerely' apologizes for the breach of trust and then tells the media that he will not be talking about this again.
Woods needs to make right and make some sort of gesture for his fans and the golfing public. And he will in what will be a ratings boon for Oprah or someone else. He'll make his first steps toward a public recovery in that type of calculated, big dollar way.
That's how he rolls and what he cares about.
"But what about doing the right thing by his wife and kids?" you ask.
It was never, ever about the wife and the kids. They were just an addition to the house that Team Tiger built. The marriage was a joke to Tiger. His problem is that his wife and his fans didn't find it all that funny and he's getting bashed by both.
What's the difference between Santa Clause and Tiger Woods... Santa Stopped at three Ho's.
Tiger and Elin have signed a new prenuptial agreement. According to the new contract, the next time Tiger plays a round, Elin will hand him his balls.