Nike selling, but what is Tiger buying?

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Tiger Woods seems to have no soul.

Tiger Woods seems to have no ability to speak a heartfelt truth.

Tiger Woods is letting his father Earl do the talking even though Earl Woods is dead.

The new Nike commercial, if that’s what it is, has Woods staring grimly at a camera while his dead father’s voice speaks of responsibility and searching yourself for answers and questioning yourself about whether you’ve done the right thing and after watching it a dozen times on the Nike website and seeing it television-sized, I’m left with both outrage and sadness.

Remember watching Woods win that U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, one-legged but so emotional, a man fully engaged in his sport but willing to cry for his efforts and seem humble? He won so many sports fans to his corner. Not just golf fans. How could you not appreciate that moment? A great athlete put forth a great performance that had so many jumping from their chairs or pumping their fists along with Tiger and grimacing because we could almost feel his pain both physical on the course and emotional afterwards when he spoke of missing his father who had died two years before.


Now Woods is engaged fully in another huge competition, one where he is trying to win what? More golf tournaments certainly. But he says also he would like to earn back respect, from his fans. And from the sponsors, some of whom stepped away as Woods’ pristine reputation was tarnished by the tales of his marital infidelities and then by his reluctance to tell us, tell them, what exactly he had done and why.

And to do this the biggest of Tiger’s sponsors, the behemoth Nike which relies solely on Woods to sell an entire line of golf clubs and clothes, puts the disgraced Woods in front of a camera with his mouth shut, his eyes lifeless and the voice of his father in the background.

We are to believe, apparently, that if Earl Woods could talk to his son right now, he would say, ‘I want to find out what your thinking was; I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?’

How do we know what lessons Tiger learned from Earl? We have no context for when or where or why Earl said what was repurposed in that ad but there’s no point in blaming Nike. Nike wants to sell ‘swoosh’ product. Apparently Nike would like to also keep us believing Tiger is a family man even if his wife, Elin, is missing from Tiger’s side as he returns to golf.

What better way than to sell us the voice of a dead man. But shouldn’t the son have said no? Finally said no?

-- Diane Pucin



Tiger Woods in pictures

Photos: Tiger Woods practice round at MastersPhotos: Tiger Woods apology