Sports Commentary 3/27/13
So, Tiger is #1 again…And Nike Cares..
WINNING ALONE DOESN’T MAKE WINNERS
Winning takes care of everything. Unfortunately that seems to be the prevailing attitude in today’s sports world, but is it really the message we want to promote? That’s a question that demands some soul searching when the statement is put into it’s current context, context provided by our old friends from Nike. Nike, unable to pry itself away from it’s meal ticket, in whom they had made the greatest single investment from their advertising budget, stayed with Tiger Woods while other sponsors backed away when the seamy side of his personal life became fodder for the even seamier tabloids. While a litany of his marital indiscretions unfolded, Tiger’s game came apart. He went nearly two years without a win, two and a half years without the world’s #1 ranking, until Sunday, when his win in the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill invitational once again vaulted him past Rory McIlroy. Nike couldn’t wait to gloat. They already had the “In your face, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, told you so, return of Tiger” advertising campaign in the can, ready to go. No sooner was Tiger reinstalled at the top of the golf world than Nike released a commercial with the words “Winning takes care of everything” over video of Tiger in his Sunday black and red, sizing up a putt, the quote attributed on screen to “Tiger Woods, World #1”. It didn’t take long for the reaction to hit social media cyber space, offering Nike a glimpse of the perspective they missed in canning the campaign. Nike still didn’t get it, releasing a statement attributing the quote to Tiger, saying, “Tiger has always said he competes to win. When asked about his goals, such as getting back to number one, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there. The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance.” But to isolate the line and use it in the current advertising context sends a completely different message, that winning at sports is so socially desirable the act alone erases myriad sins. Tiger had come a long way in repairing his image, and his relationships with fellow golfers. The friendship he developed with McIlroy, the man who owned the ranking he so coveted, showed a different, warmer, less possessed and obsessed side of Tiger Woods, as did his statements in defense of Phil Mickelson when “Lefty” took heat for his comments about being taxed at a 63% rate. Tiger had become a regular, stand up guy. As the Masters approaches he’s playing as well as he’s played at any time in his career and he’d become the kind of guy you could root for, if only the network announcers would stop leading the cheers and show some objectivity. Now this. At a time when we’re positioning the welfare of our children at the forefront of all of our concerns for society, is this the message we want to send them? “Just win, baby, then go ahead and do anything else you want while we all look the other way and worship at your alter.” It’s not a message I’d want for my kids, or my grandkids. I’d ask Nike executives if it’s the message they want for their kids, but they’ve already spent a couple of decades showing they don’t care what kind of message kids get as long as the price is right. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.