Soul for sale—cheap

Tiger Woods is no long a man; he’s a commodity

Mr. O’Neill is a frequent contributor to the CN&R and other publications, as well as an adjunct English instructor at Butte Community College.

Tiger Woods is a pathetic excuse for a human being, and it’s not his sexual peccadilloes that make him such a sorry excuse for a man. Anyone who sells his soul to Nike, and sells his dead father’s concern, affection, and advice from beyond the grave, is a man utterly without character. If sports figures were once considered role models for children, those days are gone for good, especially if a man like Tiger Woods is now the poster boy for the values of athletes and sportsmen.

If you’ve seen that Nike ad, played endlessly on the “news” channels, you know what a travesty it is, what an affront to the human spirit. For beaucoup bucks, Tiger Woods stares into the camera with a doleful and hangdog look. Meanwhile, in voiceover, his dead father intones words of fatherly love.

Is nothing sacred to these bloodless companies and big-bucks celebrities? Is there nothing they won’t do, no value they won’t betray in the pursuit of profits or endorsement deals?

Because a man is able to skillfully hit a small ball with a variety of specially made sticks, whole industries rush to cash in on the ensuing celebrity status conferred by a bored public’s fascination with such meaningless feats.

A conversation between a father and his son is personal, private and, one would think, not for sale. But for men as lacking in personal integrity or character as Tiger Woods, everything is up for sale. The expression on Woods’ face in that ad is meant to convey regret for the way he may have disappointed his dear ol’ dead dad, but the real message of that mugging for the camera says, “Please, please, please don’t take away my endorsement deal.”

It is as abject and as craven as a man can get, and it’s all for money, just as the whole “rehab” and “public apology” dog-and-pony shows were ersatz displays of contrition meant to keep Tiger’s “brand” value from deflating.

Because, let’s face it, this is no longer a man we’re talking about; this is a commodity. And, like any commodity, it can be altered, manipulated, repackaged, and marketed for public consumption. You ain’t just buyin’ shoes; you’re buying Tiger and his tale.

The only problem is that, once we’ve bought him, we find there’s really nothing there.