Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Return of Tiger

The cover story in last week’s NY Times Magazine was about Tiger’s return to the PGA. Jonathan Mahler wrote “The Tiger Bubble”, and you can find the article in its entirety here. There were some hilarious and informative passages, some of which I have included below.

Speaking of Tiger, Mahler writes, “The athlete who dominated a sport of discipline, focus and self-control—his father, an ex-military man, once compared him to Gandhi—was a sex junkie. Even as Wood’s sponsors quickly began to drop him, their advertisements lingered awkwardly throughout America: a life-size image of the world’s most famous philanderer greeted airport travelers over Accenture ad copy that read as if it had been written for the occasion: “Go on. Be a Tiger.””

The author reports a quote from Sean McManus, the president of CBS News and Sports, as saying, “I think the first tournament Tiger Woods plays again, wherever it is, will be the biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 to 15 years.” I’m not entirely sure of this. No doubt, the Masters, especially that first day, will be a huge event, but I think McManus assumes a lot to say only the Obama inauguration will overshadow this event in the timeline of the last 10 to 15 years. I have no knowledge about media events or what constitutes a media event, but wouldn’t the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics constitute a media event? Will that truly pale in comparison to Woods stepping onto the first tee? Maybe. I don’t know. I sort of don’t want it to. I wish it was just another Masters with Woods favored to win, but it is anything but that.

I learned a lot about the PGA season that I didn’t know before, like the first tournament televised by a major network is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. As everyone knows, Tiger wasn’t present this year, but some old friends showed up. “One afternoon, an airplane hired by a local strip club flew overhead, trailing a banner that read, “WE MISS YOU TOO, TIGER! DREAMGIRLS.”” Wow.

Much of the article focused on Tiger’s impact on the game, which has, for the most part, been immeasurable. But there are ways to measure some of the impact:

Over the course of Wood’s career, the tour aggressively raised the price of entry for corporate sponsors. In the process, purses grew by an average of 400 percent. A lot of money found its way into Wood’s pocket. Last year alone, he won $10.5 million, bringing his career total to about $93 million. But there was also a powerful trickle-down effect on his fellow golfers. In 1996, only nine players on the tour earned $1 million. In 2009, 91 golfers did.

And this stat about the PGA’s charitable donations:

Earlier this year, it [the PGA] rolled out a new marketing campaign to draw attention to golf’s charitable giving, which is considerable. All tournament profits are donated to charity; last year, the total came to $108 million, which dwarfs that given by other sports.

I would have never guessed that tournament profits always go to charity, that’s awesome, but also not feasible in some other professional leagues due to how they differ in structure compared with the PGA. But that is freaking sweet.

If you have any interest in sports or Tiger, I recommend clicking over to the article. It is free for now, and you may as well take advantage of that. I think the days of free NY Times are numbered.

1 comment:

Rachel Larson said...

The PGA Tour has always done a ton for charites. It is very impressive.

For breast cancer, they have pink-outs. I recall one when they stopped in Dallas and commentator David Ferrety had a pink gotee. It was awesome.