Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Tiger Woods Experience
Soon after we watched Tiger battle through 91 holes of inspiring golf, rolling in back-to-back birdies to raise his 3rd U.S. Open, we found out that he did it all with a stress fracture and that his season has come to an end. This news, undoubtedly, led to an industry wide “What the f**k are we going to do now” moment. TV Executives, Event Title Sponsors, FedEx, the PGA, Nike, Gatorade, etc. are all scrambling and rightfully so… they have all committed a lot of time, energy and money into Tiger’s game (aka the PGA Tour).
And it really is Tiger’s game at this point, isn’t it? His direct sponsors invested over $105 million into him this year alone. When he is in the field everything spikes: TV ratings, attendance, news coverage, it all goes up. I was trying to think of a parallel to the Tiger phenomena and it really doesn’t exist in popular sport. Typically, the sum is greater, and the sport (and even a team) can withstand injury to a great player… but not golf, not this day and age, not this player. I guess it is most similar to music and specifically bands difficulties overcoming the loss of their centerpiece. Sure, they can keep the band name, keep playing the same songs and they will still get the real diehards to come out and watch… but without Freddy, Queen is not Queen… without Slash, GnR concerts just don’t feel right... and there is no escaping it. The real fans may come, but they walk away whispering to each other that something was off. That while it was great to hear the songs, the environment never solicited the excitement and vibe that they have become accustomed too.
In a way, Tiger IS the frontman in the world’s biggest rock band. When he is playing, everyone else's shots seem more important, their game seems to be inspired and while the crowd loves Tiger… they also look as if they love the rest of the band more because he is playing. He has all the characteristics of a band leader too… he is the most confident and explosive of the bunch. It is not just the hip thrusting double fist pumps either… Tiger stands over a putt not wanting to make it, but with the feeling that he HAS to. Sometimes I feel like the rest of the field just doesn’t want to mess up. If Tiger is Jimi, they are the Experience and while individually they are fantastic musicians… it doesn’t seem right without Jimi up front wailing away on his manipulated Fender Strat. The Experience just wants to make sure to hit all the notes, to get to the end of the song. Jimi wants to stick some acid under his bandana and go on a 10 minute psychedelic solo that culminates with him brushing his teeth with his guitar. That’s Tiger. Tiger doesn’t want to just make the putt, he wants to brush his f’n teeth with it and that is why it’s his band.
I will keep watching, diehards always do, but it won’t feel the same… how could it.