With the Associated Press announcing this week that Tiger Woods was named “Athlete of the Decade,” we all got to see yet another example of the separation between the person and persona of an athlete.
Throughout this whole Tiger Woods scandal, I’ve said that all will be forgotten, or at least put way on the back burner, once he picks up his clubs and wins another tournament. People in the sports community have very short-term memories and are quick to let go of past troubles in favor of present successes.
Think about the offseason issues of stars like Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps in this decade. Do people in Baltimore not still stand and cheer when Lewis dances out of the tunnel on Sundays? Do NBA fans not still worship Kobe’s every move? Does anyone not like hearing about Phelps’ successes at swim meets and will it even be an issue when he hoists his first gold medal in 2012?
Heck, even the outcry against Mike Vick returning to the NFL is growing fainter and fainter. Aside from the occasional one-liner or reference, all of these athletes have settled back into their normal routines after their 15 minutes of infamy.
The same will happen for Tiger once the dust settles and he’s back on the golf course. It already has, in some ways, with AP members honoring Woods with the “Athlete of the Decade” award.
Am I saying Woods did not deserve the award? Of course not. Surprised? A bit.
With Lance Armstrong’s seven overall Tour De France Titles (and six this decade) being the all-time record, it is interesting that more people did not go away from athlete 1 to athlete 1-A of this decade with their votes for the award.
With Tiger getting the votes and the award, however, we see another of countless examples showing that, no matter what they do away from the sport, athletes will always be loved and honored so long as they prove their worth in the spotlight.
The moral of the story, if you’re an athlete not named Pete Rose, you can do whatever you please and both the public and professionals in the field will continue to look up to, and accept you.