Thursday, February 18, 2010

Almost Partially True Confessions

Professionally, and even more now that's it's just personally, my interest in Tiger Woods has pretty much begun on the first tee and ended on the 18th green. The performance of one of history's greatest golfers fascinates me. The personal triumphs and disasters of the life of another ultra-weird, ultra-wealthy, overentitled pro jock are actually less capable of gripping my attention that the work of my day job.

So I won't be goofing off to watch Woods' odd cross between a press availability, family reunion and hostage video tomorrow morning. Somehow I have a hunch I'll learn all about it anyway. When an event is slated to be overcovered by both TMZ and Golf Digest, avoiding it would be a tougher accomplishment than winning the Open.

The fact I don't care, however, doesn't mean Woods' appearance and words (doubtless as sincere as the finest PR staff can make them) aren't news. And the idea that some sportswriters, namely, the Golf Writers of America, are debating boycotting the invitation-only event fills me with far more sorrow and anger than the idea that some athlete fooled around on the road and made a perfect fool of himself in the process.

Many of the members of the GWA are people I know, like and respect. So it is with real concern that I say the following: Gang, get over yourselves. You are honest newspaper hacks, not the Golf Integrity Police, nor a forum at Columbia School of Journalism.

Is it bogus Woods is not answering questions and allowing only pool reporters to the event (one if not the only reporter sure to be Woods' sportswriting shadow and lackey Doug Ferguson of Associated Press)? Yes. Will this be the first bogus event violating the ideals of journalism any of you have covered? Only if it's your first day on the job, which it isn't.

Let's not forget the bargain all sportswriters and all journalists make with Mephistopheles when we take the gig. We get (got in my case) to see, do, and write about a lot of cool stuff. But we must also see, experience, and write about a lot of uncool stuff, stuff that ranges from demeaning to horrible. And the ethics of our craft insist we have to do both to the best of our ability, and refrain from complaining about the uncool stuff except to each other in press rooms and barrooms.

Reporters, in short, must accept that the news dictates to them, not the other way around. Anyone who can't live with that shouldn't be a reporter at all.

Maybe Tiger Woods can't stop being a bogus person. Maybe he can. But if he can't, that's no reason to start being bogus oneself.


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