What Tiger Woods Could Learn From A-Rod and Kobe
By Tracey Harrington McCoy Posted Dec 3rd 2009 12:00PM
Be honest. When you first heard that Tiger Woods might be cheating on his wife, you hoped it wasn't true. Not Tiger Woods! Not the clean-cut golfer who single-handedly made golf fun to watch. Not the guy whose relationship with his parents was touching. Not everyone's favorite classy athlete ...
For some reason, the public tends to hold athletes, particularly good ones, up to incredibly high standards. If you can drive a golf ball the farthest, hit a baseball the longest, or shoot a basketball with precision, then you have a different code of conduct than the rest of us.
The recent revelations about Tiger Woods and his alleged affair(s) reminds us that even athletes mess up and make mistakes. But what the public will truly remember is how the sports figure picks up the pieces and deals with the situation. Let's take a look back at other famous athletes and their mishaps, and see if we can gather some hints to what's next in the Woods saga.
Alex Rodriguez is a baseball titan. His New York Yankee 10-year, $275 million-dollar contract was groundbreaking and he was unquestionably regarded as one of the best players of all time (not unlike Woods and golf.) But, in 2004, scandalous rumors started popping up about the married third baseman engaging in some improper behavior. Alleged trysts over the years include a romp with a Boston hairdresser, a 2007 rendezvous with a Toronto-based stripper, and regular liaisons with call girls (and their madame). He even had a rumored fling with Madonna.
To no one's real surprise, his wife filed for divorce in 2007, citing "extra marital affairs and other marital misconduct" as a main reason for separation. After more than a year of going back and forth, they settled in 2008.
What can Tiger take away from this example? He can probably relax, knowing that even if his wife Elin takes (half) his money and runs, he could still be a revered public figure in years to come. Rodriguez's reputation hasn't really experienced any long-term damage. Thanks to his performance on the field, he's a beloved NYC ballplayer and has been dating actress Kate Hudson for months (thanks Kate!). He even admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs earlier year and people STILL love him.
Basketball prodigy Kobe Bryant shocked the world when, in 2003, he was accused of sexual assault. While he vehemently denied those claims, Bryant did admit to an affair with his accuser, a Colorado hotel employee. The image of Bryant crying as he admitted his mistake while his wife sat next to him with a murderous-yet-appeased look on her face will forever be imprinted in the public's collective memory.
After the admission of his affair, Bryant experienced a fair amount of backlash. Some of his endorsements, including McDonalds and Nutella, dropped him. And while Nike didn't drop him, they stopped using his image in any capacity during that time. Even his Lakers jersey saw a drop in sales.
But through all this, his wife stayed with him. And in a few years time, his image started to improve. He signed contracts with Coca-Cola and Guitar Hero. Nike started including him in their advertisements again. And in 2009, he tied with Michael Jordan for No. 2 spot on Forbes' list of the World's Highest Paid Athletes (Tiger took the No. 1 spot).
When people hear the name Kobe Bryant, some still pause and remember the allegations that once were, but many conjure up the baby-faced stellar basketball player who changed the game.
Watch the Girls on Pop discuss the Tiger Woods scandal!In just a few years, maybe even months, Tiger's transgressions could be forgotten as he collects another jacket at the Masters or pumps his fist at the PGA tournament. Elin might even be cheering from the sidelines.
The fact is, no one quite knows how this story will play out. With more and more women claiming to have had relationships with Tiger, this story doesn't seem close to wrapping up. But as he starts to figure out his future, it might behoove him to look back at some other sports greats
Tiger could emerge from this media hurricane totally unscathed, just a small hiccup for one of the world's richest men. Or he might lose his endorsements, and maybe even his wife. But as far as damage control goes, his first step of acknowledging wrongdoing and pleading for privacy, is a good one. He's long been known for fiercely guarding his privacy-and if he continues to do that now, it might prove to help him in the future.
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