Feinstein on Tiger… or Feinstein on Feinstein on Tiger

I read an article about Tiger Woods and the “Tiger Woods machine” yesterday in the most recent Golf Digest (Jan 12) by John Feinstein. Actually it was an excerpt from his new book One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game (GD gets the title wrong in their attribution of the article to the book) where he apparently writes about his personal encounters with high profile sports figures . Of course, I have not read the book, but only assume the rest of it reads like the GD article. In this article, entitled No One Tells Tiger Woods What to Do, he describes his encounters with Tiger and his “people” from 1994 to present. If the book is anything like the story, you’ll be reading John Feinstein’s thoughts on John Feinstein’s previous thoughts, stories and opinions about sports figures and his impression of how they reacted to these thoughts, stories and opinions.

I gained a little insight into Tiger’s world from the story, but really, is it any surprise that Tiger makes all his own decisions? The story really kind of smacked of Feinstein holding himself up as the victim as he attempted to do the “righteous work” of de-layering the Tiger onion for all of us. Is that what we really want? It is a mildly interesting story, but I don’t really care how hard it is for John to get one on one time with Tiger (or anyone else) in order to delve deeper into their personal lives and reasons behind decisions. These aren’t world leaders we are talking about, but sports figures, entertainers, people who perform ultimately for the entertainment of the rest of us. While I understand that personal lives influence performance – no greater example of that than Tiger’s failed marriage – I want my sports heroes to be viewed primarily in the light of performance.

This kind of reaches into the discussion of sports figures as role models. I am in the Charles Barkley camp on this one. Sure, there are going to be the occasional Tim Tebows that come along who one could hold up as a role model, but generally sports figures are normal human beings with the challenges and foibles all individuals have. They are not role models, but people who happen to have an unusual talent to do something. Why not just enjoy that!? Does it surprise anyone when a news story comes out that a NFL player has been arrested for this or for that? So what? He screwed up…like thousands of other people screw up in the world every day. Why is the sports figure any different than the rest of us except that he has been blessed with a particular talent to perform?

OK. So the story told me that Tiger and his camp is standoffish, that Tiger is smart, that Tiger’s dad was a “challenge,” and that Tiger made decisions and took some actions that Feinstein negatively opined about. What stands out in the article is Feinstein’s ability to tell a story so that he is always right and that , in this case anyway, Tiger would eventually realize that John was right.

Golf Digest screwed up. This wasn’t a story about Tiger, it was a story about Feinstein talking about Tiger and his life in such a way as to hold himself as the protagonist and the Team Tiger the antagonists…they should have had Feinstein caricatured throughout the pages rather than the Woods family.

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