Tiger Woods was different, or so he seemed, with his unmatchable talent and carefully burnished image. Unlike some pro athletes, he had welcomed being a role model. He was, it turns out, too good to be true, and his fall from grace calls into question the idea of sports hero worship.
“No one has approached this level of perfection on and off the playing surface, maybe ever, without a single blot or tarnish,” said Dave Czesniuk, director of operations for Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
“The real story here is the meeting of expectations with reality,” Czesniuk said. “The guy's a human being and we forget that.”
Woods' apology Wednesday for unspecified “transgressions” — coinciding with reports of repeated marital infidelity — was, on one level, only the latest in a long sequence of superstar downfalls.
Michael Phelps was photographed with a marijuana pipe. Marion Jones had her Olympic medals stripped for doping that she long denied. Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez faced dual allegations of steroid use and adultery. And so on.
Woods, however, was unique — a globally recognized brand name that evoked impeccability and historical greatness. His sponsors and handlers, his admiring chroniclers in the media, and especially Woods himself contributed to the image-making.
“The public had become jaded and indifferent — they expected Barry Bonds and Marion Jones and Sammy Sosa to fall,” said psychologist Stanley Teitelbaum, author of “Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols.”
Woods found ‘snoring’ at scene of crash
Orlando: The neighbour who found Tiger Woods lying in the street after a car accident last week has said that he found the golfer snoring. Jarius Adams told police in a recorded interview on CNN that Woods had “definitely” not been drinking, and that wife, Elin Nordegren, was also at the scene.
He was found bleeding and semi-conscious. The police officer asked if Woods had been conscious and Adams replied: “At that point, he was snoring.” He added: “(Elin Nordegren) was very quiet, in shock, just sitting there. She wasn't verbal”.