Wednesday, January 06, 2010

When I thought I couldn't hear anything interesting about Tiger Woods

It took me two days of Tiger Woods coverage since November to gloss over any comment about him. Analysts and reporters struggle to say anything new and interesting--and many of these same folks are actually intelligent.

Once again, Chuck Klosterman breaks the mold. In his December 21st podcast interview with ESPN's Bill Simmons, Simmons asks for a different angle, and Klosterman delivers. I am weary of sports, PR, and news folks saying that Woods needs to come forward. This proclamation is boring and unoriginal. The interview is great dealing with Woods, but the entire two-part podcast is worth your while (as if I could say anything different about Klosterman).

Klosterman says that two things could change the public perception of Tiger Woods at this point. One is that if stories came out saying that Woods did generous things for his mistresses, like pay for their chemotherapy. Two, that Tiger Woods go completely in the opposite direction of his current intensely private public persona and become like Charles Barkley, where he comments on everything and become this gregarious, joke-cracking guy who comments on race, politics and sports. I think this seems unlikely, but intriguing. Barkley has his detractors, but generally he is loved by many, even if people don't agree with him. His recent problems with DUI arrests haven't taken away people's affection for him, because he is at least authentic. I think it also helps that Sir Charles is funny. I find Klosterman's take on Woods interesting, because I find that the typical call for Woods to go public (usually the preferred strategy is to appear on Oprah) is a retread of any public figure path when they commit any type of indiscretion. This typical path is boring, and it's not really a story.

During my studies in creative writing in college, one of my professors said that what makes a story is the revelation of change in a character. Without change, there is no story, there's only a description or a report. I suppose that Tiger Woods doesn't have to change for the sake of a story, but I do find stories much more interesting than mere reports. Klosterman turned a series of reports and analysis into the prospect for a compelling human story. That angle from Klosterman, should it or any similar variant, come true, would make the Tiger Woods story interesting.

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