By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 1 Comment
By Scott Feschuk - Monday, April 5, 2010 at 3:25 PM - 43 Comments
Let us begin with the goatee. It is a curious choice for Tiger Woods. The goatee does not say, “I am keen to begin rebuilding my image as a decent and loyal family man.” The goatee says, “I am the evil twin of the leading character on your soap opera and I am here to ravish the mayor’s virgin daughter.”
But Tiger Woods has changed. We know this because Tiger Woods says Tiger Woods has changed. “It’s not about the championships,” Woods said during his first press conference since, well, you know. “It’s about how you live your life.” This would have been a laugh line to the Tiger Woods of two years ago, just as it will likely be to the Tiger Woods of two years from now. A month of therapy can give you a new vocabulary – “balanced… peace… healing…” – but can it change the very core of what and who you are?
Later this week, Tiger Woods will make his return to professional golf, but for now his focus remains on his other full-time job: apologizing. Speaking at a news conference at the Augusta National Golf Club – site of The Masters and, every few months or so, a racial minority – Woods said he was sorry, so very sorry, and a terrible, horrible and very bad man. He also needs to do some work on his swing, thanks for asking.
Rather than pass judgment myself on the quality of the questions posed to Woods, let’s permit his reactions to tell the story. Woods smiled a lot. He referred to the gathered reporters as “my friends” – “You will always be my friends” – and called them by their nicknames. Speaking to one, he uttered the words “my bro.” As he got up to leave, Tiger smiled wide and Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 5:54 AM - 26 Comments
Isn’t it pretty startling that no one made a big deal about this widely published accusation by Tiger Woods until now?
Retired teacher Maureen Decker emerged yesterday from Woods’ sordid past to say that a story he’s told about being brutalized by racist kids on his first day of kindergarten was pure bunk. “I am asking Tiger for a private and public apology to put my mind at ease and set the record straight,” said Decker, a smiling 69-year-old.
Decker ripped a recollection from Woods that appeared in a book written by his buddy, former NBA star Charles Barkley, and which he repeated in an interview with Barbara Walters. “A group of sixth graders tied me to a tree, spray-painted the word ‘n—-’ on me, and threw rocks at me,” he said. “That was my first day of school. And the teacher really didn’t do much of anything.”
Decker said that account is “false” and thinks Woods’ late dad, Earl, cooked it up for “more publicity.”
Maybe the sporting press just didn’t get around to reading Barkley’s book? I’d hate to consider the alternative—that they were just too cowardly to raise a fuss about a bizarre, defamatory claim by a wealthy sociopath. Tiger’s story would be believable if it featured in the biography of a Jesse Owens or a Wilma Rudolph, maybe even an Earl Woods. But Tiger went to kindergarten in a perfectly nice Orange County suburb in 1981. California’s celebrity grievance-hunter, Gloria Allred, is representing Decker; she was around in ’81! Who can doubt that she would have literally parachuted into the city of Cypress if a hate crime like this had taken place?
I don’t suppose Tiger meant any harm to his teachers or the reputation of his hometown. We all have “memories” that didn’t happen, or didn’t happen to us. The story’s not even hard to believe if you edit out the spray-painting as an embellishment. Woods had already been on The Mike Douglas Show and That’s Incredible by the time he started school, and his father almost literally believed him to be, and encouraged him to think of himself as, Christ resurrected with a pitching wedge in his hands. Kid like that is gonna get rocks, and cruel words, chucked at him from time to time. What’s disturbing is the lack of self-consciousness with which Tiger told the story as an adult.
That, and, of course, the obvious absence of strong public-relations advice that has been so apparent throughout his long cold winter. A proper consigiliere should have been available to scrutinize Tiger’s Barkley manuscript, ask him “Are you a hundred percent certain this happened the way you’ve told it?”, and explain to him that although he is a legitimate (even underrated) symbol of racial progress, he probably shouldn’t try to put on the mantle of Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali. But Tiger has only ever had one advisor he trusted, and Earl is no longer around.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 3:54 PM - 6 Comments
Tiger Woods’ friend, agent helped cover up his affairs
For Tiger Woods, things have gone from bad, to worse. The latest: a new report in Vanity Fair shows that many of Woods’ close advisers were involved in his affairs. This, despite Woods’ insistence that no one else knew of his infidelity. Byron Bell—Tiger’s childhood friend and now president of Woods’ design company—apparently organized the golfer’s many trysts. Jamie Jungers, cocktail waitress and Woods fling, confirmed that she “would always go through Byron” when she needed to “fly out to see [Tiger] or schedule itineraries or anything.” Woods’ agent at IMG Worldwide, Mark Steinberg, was also accused of covering up Tiger’s affairs. Mindy Lawton, another mistress, says that Steinberg was able to stop the National Enquirer from leaking the story earlier. Woods has not responded to these new allegations.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:38 PM - 2 Comments
Tiger’s former agent says it’s Michael Jordan’s fault
Don’t blame Tiger! He was just hanging out with the wrong boys. At least, that’s what the golfer’s former legal advisor is saying: “I told him, ‘Stay away from that son of a bitch [Michael Jordan], because he doesn’t have anything to offer to the f***ing world in which he lives,’” lawyer John Merchant told Vanity Fair. Merchant claims that Tiger only fell from grace after he started hanging out with the likes of NBA partiers Jordan and Charles Barkley. “This is worse than one of Shakespeare’s tragedies,” Merchant bemoaned. Las Vegas nightclub hostess Jamie Jungers confirms that “One of the times [Woods] arrived in town, he texted me, ‘I’m gambling with Charles Barkley. Text me when you’re here.’” Another one of the disgraced golfer’s ladies, Loredana Jolie Ferriolo, says Michael Jordan once made a pass at her when she arrived at a casino in the Bahamas to hook up with Tiger.
By Patricia Treble and Michael Friscolanti - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 4 Comments
And other men behaving badly
Nature of scandal: Serial infidelity
Who attacked whom: His wife allegedly hit him with a phone after discovering his infidelity by reading incriminating texts on his cellphone
Site of the shocking act: Eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom 6,700-sq.-foot mansion in a gated community in Isleworth, Fla.
Reach of disgrace: World
The significant other, at least for now: Elin Nordegren, wife No. 1. The former model/nanny is a psychology student and a mother of two young children.
Lingo: Tiger Woods Syndrome: devoted family man revealed to have mistresses galore
Nature of scandal: Violence (the criminal charge is felony menacing)
Who attacked whom: He allegedly attacked his wife with a knife and threatened to kill her
Site of the shocking act: A rented yellow clapboard house in the ski resort town of Aspen, Colo.
Reach of disgrace: North America
The significant other, at least for now: Brooke Mueller, wife No. 3. The former actress is a real estate investor and a mother of twin toddlers.
Lingo: Prehab: checking into an addiction clinic before a relapse
In his 2001 tune My Stupid Mouth, he sang: “Mama said, ‘think before speaking’ / No filter in my head.” Nine years later, Mayer still hasn’t found that filter. In an interview with Playboy, he blabbed about his “crazy” sex life with ex-girlfriend Jessica Simpson, comparing it to “crack cocaine.” Simpson, for the record, is “a little bit angry.”
The Tiger Woods of Toronto City Hall, he was forced to pull out of the mayoral race—and beg his live-in girlfriend for forgiveness—after confessing to “intimate relations” with multiple women. One mistress, a 19-year-old aspiring actress, said she had sex with the golden-boy councillor on his office couch, and exchanged dozens of dirty text messages. “I like you because you’re smart and interesting,” wrote Giambrone, now 32. “You’re also good-looking naked.”
Caught drinking and driving after partying at a gay nightclub in California, the Republican state senator admitted the truth: he is attracted to men. The divorced father of four said he believed his sexual orientation wouldn’t affect his ability to represent his staunchly conservative district. And clearly, it didn’t. During eight years in state politics, he has voted against nearly every gay rights measure that reached the legislature.
The two-time U.S. presidential candidate ﬁnally conﬁrmed what everyone knows: he fathered a child with one of his campaign workers. But his belated honesty may not be enough to save the former senator from prison. Reports say Edwards is on the verge of being indicted by a grand jury for using campaign contributions to pay off his baby mama. No word yet on whether he’s running in 2012.
Britain’s highest-paid soccer star is no longer captain of the country’s World Cup squad—and the demotion had nothing to do with his feet. He was caught cheating on his wife with a teammate’s ex-girlfriend, forcing soccer officials to find a more suitable leader. His wife, however, seems willing to forgive and forget. “We’re very strong as a couple,” Toni said. “Always have been.” Well, not always.
The 27-year-old rapper is now in a Lil jail cell, serving a one-year sentence for carrying a loaded gun onto his tour bus. If he behaves, he could be back in the studio in eight months. In the meantime, guards at New York’s Rikers Island have reportedly ordered him not to sign autographs for fellow inmates.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 12:13 PM - 1 Comment
Alleged mistress reveals text messages from golfer
For Tiger, things have gone from bad to worse… to downright nasty. The latest: alleged mistress Josyln James has created a new website, which features text messages she received from the golf legend. The messages themselves range from the banal “I like when you do that to me” and “I need that so bad,” to the more risqué “I would love to have the ability to make you sore” and “I want to be deep inside you,” to….Well, you can see them for yourself at http://www.sextingjoslynjames.com/Home.html
By Colby Cosh - Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:50 AM - 79 Comments
Woods spent 45 days in therapy. But is ‘sex addiction’ really an illness?
Even as Tiger Woods’s sex scandal costs him billions in earnings as a commercial endorser, he is serving as a walking billboard for the sex-addiction treatment business. In his stilted Feb. 19 television address, Woods admitted, “For 45 days, from the end of December to early February, I was in in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing.” Those issues, we were left to assume, relate to Woods’s serial infidelities with a parade of surgically enhanced party girls.
In his speech, Woods interrupted his grovelling several times to lash out at the media—accusing it of irresponsible speculation about the events surrounding his Nov. 25 auto accident, even though he hasn’t provided an alternate account that makes any sense, refuses to be questioned about it, and cannot reasonably characterize a car crash on a neighbour’s property as a purely private matter.
Woods expressed anger that “some people have speculated that [my wife] Elin somehow hurt or attacked me.” For all the supposed soul-searching he has done, he doesn’t seem to have worked out that nobody would think the less of his wife for being enraged at him. Or that if she wasn’t chasing him, there is no exculpating pretext for the crash.
By Philippe Gohier - Friday, February 19, 2010 at 7:51 PM - 26 Comments
Woods says his redemption includes going back to his Buddhist roots
Tiger Woods isn’t in the habit of revealing much about his personal life. Even when he was apologizing for the string of affairs that landed him in “inpatient therapy,” the golf superstar let it be known he wouldn’t be going into the nitty-gritty of how he plans to make it up to his wife, Elin Nordegen, nor would he let everyone in on the extent of his romantic conquests.
“I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful,” Woods said. “I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I’m concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife.”
The one detail Tiger did want to share with the public is that his quest for redemption will follow the long American tradition of including a spiritual component. “Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age,” he said. “People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.”
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, February 19, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 22 Comments
Everyone is going to be commenting on Tiger’s first public appearance after it happens at 11 a.m. ET. But this is the 21st century. We have Twitter and BlackBerries and Coke Zero. We should no longer have to wait for events to actually transpire.
Ergo, I thought Tiger seemed nervous, defensive and mentally fragile. Also, I have to admit that I was surprised when he whipped it out.
Okay, it’s time. We know it’s big news because CNN has a fancy graphic: Tiger Talks. They also have a montage of the women with whom Tiger reportedly had sexual relations. Curiously, the photos show all the women in various degrees of scantily cladedness. What a strange coincidence.
Annnnd… it’s over: Tiger looked older and he looked tired. His head seemed smaller. It didn’t help that he appeared to be speaking to us from in front of the window treatments at a standard room in the Tulsa Best Western. He issued an apology and then apologies and Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Friday, February 19, 2010 at 6:23 AM - 17 Comments
1. “…and so, in an effort to avoid temptation, I will henceforth be devoting myself exclusively to golf in its underappreciated, family-friendly ‘miniature’ form. See you at the windmill!”
2. “I’m sorry to announce that I will not be appearing at The Masters in 2010. I will, however, be using that weekend to perform in a golf-themed adult film entitled The Masturs.”
3. “Yes, people of Earth, I have most assuredly been in some sort of bizarre sex jail for the past three months. NOT preparing for a reptoid invasion of your… sorry, our planet. It was definitely the sex jail thing.”
4. “Do you people realize what kind of messed-up childhood I had? You should be grateful my sex life doesn’t consist largely of infantilism, bondage, and urinating on Babe Zaharias lookalikes.”
5. “After a lot of painful introspection I’ve become convinced I made a mistake marrying so young. To just the one woman.”
6. “I’ve asked you all here today so I could tell you about a friend of mine who saved my life. A friend named L. Ron Hubbard.”
7. “Nooo, not the science-fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. That’s just a weird coincidence. This Ron Hubbard is a bartender who pulled me out of a malfunctioning hot tub in a VIP room. Believe me, poor bastard’s heard all the jokes.”
8. “Basically, as I grew up, I found myself superbly prepared for everything about a professional golf career… except the overwhelming, fatal tide of sexy double-entendres.”
9. “And so I apologize to fans everywhere for my blatantly obvious use of outlawed performance-enhancing drugs. …Wait, what? This is about the screwing? Seriously??”
10. “Above all, I hope my troubles won’t lead to unjust prejudice against my fellow Cablinasians. Stay strong, my people.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
It takes a village to raise an idiot
Jacques Rogge and the rest of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee have relented and will allow the Australian International Olympic Committee to fly its iconic “boxing kangaroo” flag from a balcony of the Vancouver Olympic Village. The flag was ordered removed because the IOC bans unauthorized commercial symbols, and the cartoon ’roo is trademarked, albeit only to the Australian Olympic Committee. The dispute ﬁred up Aussies everywhere. Deputy PM Julia Gillard called it a “scandal.” Vancouver radio phone-in callers raged at the IOC’s bully tactics. IOC spokesman Mark Adams called the issue “a storm in a teacup.” Meantime, athletes are streaming to the Oz sector of the village for a photo with the giant ’roo.
He did it for the kids
It was death in the afternoon for any bull that Jairo Miguel Sànchez Alonso faced Saturday at an arena in southwest Spain. The 16-year-old killed six bulls without mussing his sparkly white suit of lights. He returned to Spain after several years apprenticing in Mexico, where there is no minimum age for fighters. He almost died there in 2007 when a bull gored him. Alonso holds no grudges. “I feel quite bad when the bull has been good and you see the expression on his face, the innocence,” he says. “He has given you his bravery.” The event, while bloody, had a softer side. It was a fundraiser for children with autism.
Bad times for burkas
French Prime Minister François Fillon announced this week he’ll deny citizenship to a Moroccan national who forces his French-born wife to wear a burka. “If this man does not want to change his attitude, he has no place in our country,” he said. Meantime, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for a law banning full burkas is gaining steam. He has declared the full veil and body covering “not welcome” in France, and inconsistent with the country’s values. It’s certainly not welcome in Paris post offices. Two burka-clad robbers walked into a post office in the Paris suburb of Athis Mons, an area with a large immigrant Muslim population. They pulled out handguns and stole the equivalent of $6,000.
Blades of glory
Germany’s Katarina Witt and Canada’s Elizabeth Manley met on the ice in Vancouver Sunday, 22 years after the Teutonic bombshell and Canada’s sweetheart squared off in Calgary during the 1988 Olympics. Witt won gold but Manley, under enormous home-country pressure, pulled off the skate of her life to finish second. Both women are doing television colour commentary in Vancouver, but they took a turn on the Robson Square ice rink with young members of the Coquitlam Skating Club. “We’re not here for a rematch,” joked Manley, 44. “Not at our age, I’m 20—plus tax.” Replied a razor-sharp Witt: “Oh, my God! How much are taxes here?”
Tea time in Tennessee
Cranky country singer and musical comedian Ray Stevens’s flagging career was ready for a death panel. Then the 71-year-old singer of such novelty hits as Ahab the A-rab and Gitarzan wrote We the People, a lighthearted attack on President Barack Obama’s health care initiative. The video, which shows Stevens strumming a bathroom plunger and singing, “You vote Obamacare, we’re gonna vote you outta there,” is a YouTube hit and an unofficial anthem of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement. Stevens sang at the group’s convention in Nashville on the weekend, where Sarah Palin raised eyebrows with her $100,000 fee for giving the keynote speech. “That’s a lot of damned tea,” grumbled one delegate.
Do as I say, not as I…ahh-choo!
As deputy health minister for the Czech Republic, Michael Vit has the job of deciding whether to impose mandatory swine flu vaccinations on “all people indispensable for the functioning of the country.” The day after receiving the assignment, Vit came down with H1N1 himself. “I have muscle problems, a headache, simply all symptoms of the flu,” he said. The deputy health minister admitted he had yet to receive the vaccination. “As you see, I’m a living example.”
‘Funeral’ for friends, and strangers
Canadian orchestral rockers Arcade Fire made it to the Super Bowl last weekend, when the group’s stirring anthem Wake Up, from their hit CD Funeral, was used in a series of NFL promo ads. While the group is protective of licensing its music, they had their reasons in this case. They turned over the fat licensing fee to Partners in Health, an agency with deep roots in Haiti. Band member Régine Chassagne’s family came from the island. She expressed her grief in an article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper: “I am mourning people I know. People I don’t know. People who are still trapped under rubble and won’t be rescued in time.”
Broom versus stick
Icy, obsessed with winning and not above the occasional cheap shot. Yes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and hockey are a match made in heaven. Hockey is “deeply reflective of the character of the nation,” he explained in a pre-Olympic interview with Sports Illustrated. Harper, who has studied the origins of the sport, said it contributes to “a uniquely Canadian sense of belonging in a community across the country.” Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff waxes poetic about a different sport: curling. Naturally, he identifies with the skip. “It’s the leadership and the precision, and the quiet,” he told the Globe and Mail. Apparently he’s not the sort of skip who shouts unseemly commands like, “Hurry, hurry hard.”
Very, very teed off
A Kelowna, B.C., entrepreneur is cashing in on Tiger Woods’s extramarital mayhem. Mike Caldwell has produced the Mistress Collection, a boxed set of 12 golf balls, each bearing a portrait of one of Woods’s mistresses. “He likes to play a round with them…and now you can, too!” notes his website, tailofthetiger.com. Caldwell says he sold 1,500 sets at US$54.90 in the first six days. Less than impressed is Joslyn James, an adult film star and alleged Woods mistress. She called a news conference to denounce the balls as hurtful and in bad taste. “It bothered me to think that someone would be standing with a dangerous club in their hands hitting a ball with my photo on it,” she said. She then showed her sensitive side by releasing 100 tawdry text messages she said she received from Woods.
You don’t want a visit by Oscar
Oscar the cat has a near infallible ability to detect which of the patients in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., is next to die, says Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician. When Oscar curls up with a patient, staff know to phone the next of kin. “It’s like he’s on a vigil,” says Dosa. Such insight would come as no surprise to cat owners, who are themselves terribly smart. Certainly smarter than dog owners, according to a study by Dr. Jane Murray at the University of Bristol. Winston Churchill was a cat lover. Paris Hilton loves dogs. Want more proof? Cat owners (if anyone really owns a cat) are 1.36 times more likely than dog owners to hold a university degree. They’re also 100 per cent less likely to have to follow behind their pet and scoop droppings off the sidewalk.
Gay but not cheerful
The headline in the Seattle Weekly says it all: “Gay, mentally challenged biracial male cheerleader claims discrimination.” All that high school student Benjamin Grundy wants is to shake his pom-poms like the girls on the squad at Garfield-Palouse High School in tiny Palouse, Wash. Instead, the cheer coach suggested he’d make a great mascot. He was eventually given a cheerleader’s top but denied the rest of the uniform, pom-poms, and the right to join the dance routine. “I was reduced to standing there and moving my arms,” he says. The school board denies discrimination, but Benjamin’s mother, Suzanne Grundy, is pressing the case with the ACLU and her congressman. “The combination of a biracial, mentally challenged gay male may be too much for them,” she told the local TV station.
L’état c’est moi
Quebec’s Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne has revived a tradition that ended 44 years ago—awarding medals, in gold, silver and bronze, and bearing his coat of arms, to those making contributions to their communities. The practice of awarding such medals ended in 1966 after Quebec nationalists condemned the symbolic tie with the monarchy. Duchesne has no such qualms: he also invoked royal privilege to avoid testifying before a national assembly committee on how he spends some $1 million annually in taxpayer money. His refusal to testify was condemned by all sides of the legislature.
Disharmony in the house of Wang
It was Hong Kong feng shui master Tony Chan’s skills in arranging buildings to create a positive life force that drew Chan to the eccentric, pigtailed property magnate Nina Wang. He began a 15-year affair with Wang, 23 years his senior. Now, he’s accused of arranging her $4-billion fortune in a manner auspicious to himself. When she died at 69 in 2007, he claimed to be her sole heir. Her family contested the will, and he’s charged with forgery.
She also has a Ph.D. in thankless tasks
Leila Ghannam, a former Palestinian intelligence officer, is the first woman governor of Ramallah, the unofficial capital of the West Bank. Her challenge is to quash a resurgence by hard-liners in Hamas. “My intelligence experience, like my degree in psychology, helps me carry out my job,” she says.
By Nancy Macdonald - Monday, January 11, 2010 at 11:36 AM - 11 Comments
How Sweden’s egalitarian culture affected its response to the Woods scandal
Not long ago, Sweden served as the ideal retreat for the famously reclusive Tiger Woods. There, the planet’s most transcendent athlete could escape the paparazzi’s constant gaze and enjoy snowy, low-key holidays in Parlstrom, at the family home of Elin Nordegren, his Swedish-born wife. He could stroll through tiny Vaxholm or Stockholm’s leafy, central Karlaplan plaza without raising so much as a blond eyebrow.
But since the world’s No. 1 golfer drove his Cadillac Escalade into a tree on Nov. 27 and his sexcapades became the biggest story of 2009, the golf-mad Swedes have unleashed a torrent of public support for his wronged wife, lashing out at Woods in the process. “ ‘Transgressions,’ ‘infidelity’ and ‘hiatus’ are not good enough,” wrote Lasse Anrell, a star columnist with Aftonbladet, the country’s biggest newspaper. Tiger, he says, should at least be man enough to admit to what he did. “Here’s a word that he should add to his vocabulary: ‘sex addict.’ That’s S-E-X-A-D-D-I-C-T, Tiger.” Meanwhile, Ann Söderlund, a leading Aftonbladet journalist, commended Nordegren’s “Swedish” reaction. “While Hillary and Posh Spice chose to keep silent, diet and become feminist doormats, Elin stood with both feet firmly planted on the ground and realized the shame was Tiger’s, not hers. Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club.”
In fact, Nordegren (who allegedly took a three-iron to her philandering husband) is being celebrated as a kind of modern folk hero. “Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Aftonbladet’s editor-in-chief Jan Helin on his blog. Yes, Woods, the planet’s blandest superstar, has inspired the progressive, famously peaceful nation to advocate for retributive justice.
Sweden, of course, remains a safe haven for Nordegren. In fact, she is believed to have retreated there over the holidays with the couple’s two children, two-year-old Sam and 10-month-old Charlie. And recently, she bought a US$2.2-million, six-bedroom hideaway on small, secluded Faglaro Island, a 45-minute ferry ride from Vaxholm, where she grew up.
Yet more than “she’s our gal” patriotic loyalty is driving Swedish support, columnist Britta Svensson told Maclean’s. Nordegren, after all, is no regular Swede; rather, her “well-known, upper-middle-class family” makes this “personal,” she says. Nordegren’s mother Barbro Holmberg, a former cabinet minister and current governor of Gävleborg county, made the front page of the country’s biggest papers, Expressen, Aftonbladet, and Dagens Nyheter, after being hospitalized in Florida with stomach pains in the early days of the scandal. And Elin’s globe-trotting journalist father, Thomas Nordegren, has been thrust into an even brighter spotlight than usual. “I do, of course, have an opinion about both the Internet gossip and media’s treatment [of the unfolding drama],” Thomas recently told his radio audience. “But my biggest task is to support my daughter and my grandchildren. To bring that up in my own program would be inappropriate. Enough about this!” Most of the Swedish media has politely respected the parents’ privacy.
But with their very own flaxen-haired party in the drama, Swedes are lapping up every juicy new detail of the golfer’s sordid affairs. Woods’s marital saga has been splashed on the front pages of the country’s papers for weeks, with some media outlets dispatching reporters to Florida to cover this most un-Swedish circus. The normally reserved country—wholly unused to the media digging into the private lives of its public figures—is gorging on its first real taste of paparazzi scrutiny, says Michael Winiarski, a U.S.-based correspondent with Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest morning paper. “Hour after hour,” he described in a recent report, “relationship experts, finger-waggers, weepers and D-list celebrities” were trotted out on network TV to comment on the latest, tawdry revelation.
Still, Swedes perceive celebrity, pop culture and gender entirely differently than the U.S., and some see this as an opportunity to punctuate that. Sweden’s “obsessively egalitarian” culture ensures that girls have a strong sense of self, experts explain (this is, after all, the country that in the ’40s gave us girl rebel Pippi Longstocking, who lived alone, sailed the seven seas, drank lemonade from the jug, and could outlift any man). “Swedish women like Elin are brought up to be independent and strong,” Aftonbladet editor Karin Magnusson explains. “We’re excited about this. We’re hoping Elin will file for divorce, and show Tiger—and the world—what Swedish women stand for.”
The country’s famed, cradle-to-grave welfare state, which offsets women’s unpaid work with state-funded child care and eldercare services, includes a state-paid allowance for 60 days of pappamanader—“daddy’s months”—to allow father and newborn to properly bond. And the gap in the employment rates between men and women in Sweden is half of what it is in the U.S. Swedes pride themselves on having created a more egalitarian culture, not just between rich and poor, but between men and women. “Our Swedish hearts are overwhelmed with pride, because our very own Elin didn’t take any s–t. Just like a tough Swedish girl shouldn’t,” Svensson wrote. “Elin is our heroine.”
Still, few believe Nordegren will take her young children to live in Sweden, away from their dad. Tradition dictates that child custody be shared, says Svensson (in Sweden, single-parent custody is “very rare,” she adds, generally granted only in cases of “incest or severe domestic abuse”). When a Swedish couple divorces, assets are typically halved, 50-50—“pre-nups and divorce lawyers are almost unheard of,” writes Swedish journalist Katarina Andersson. In fact, most Swedes were revolted by news that Woods had reportedly sweetened the pre-nup, offering Nordegren US$55 million more to stay for two more years, says Svensson: “We think a woman who marries for money is stupid—behaviour we connect with a typical American gold-digging housewife.” And Nordegren, poised, substantive, elegant, and born of an intelligent, well-to-do family, is, she insists, nothing of the sort.
What Nordegren has planned next is anybody’s guess. But while she has remained silent, some have picked up on signals—as when she was photographed pumping gas without her wedding ring. Though she was reportedly in talks with a top L.A. divorce lawyer before Christmas, it remains unclear whether she will “take the money, and kick him in the butt,” as per the suggestion of fellow Swede, Anna Anka, whose tumultuous marriage to Paul Anka has also captivated the country. If Nordegren does give Woods the boot—which several U.S. media reports she intends to—those supportive Swedes might make it a national holiday.
By Colby Cosh - Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 11:20 PM - 19 Comments
A Beltway colleague attempts a contrarian defence of Fox News panelist Brit Hume, who aroused widespread wrath a week ago by suggesting that troubled Tiger Woods should abandon Buddhism because it doesn’t offer “the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.” The Hume imbroglio is funny when viewed from the standpoint of the convinced atheist: if you regard the major religions as a buffet of indistinguishably nonsensical self-help regimens, Hume’s “proselytizing” appears no more dangerous than recommending some particular book about sex addiction or suggesting that Tiger go on a program of Graham crackers and cold showers. Hume was asked what he thinks Woods ought to do, and gave his best answer. What is objectionable about this?
We do have a strong social taboo, double-reinforced on television and radio broadcasts, against defaming particular religions. But as Carl Cannon points out, it’s not clear that Hume said anything untruthful or unfair about Buddhism. Every great religion has particular practical strengths, and “forgiveness and redemption” are rightly recognized as very strong suits of Christianity. Buddhism offers no escape from the accounting of accumulated karma: “redemption” is foreign to it. In Buddhism, you can’t declare bankruptcy. You work off your debt, in this life or the next.
If Tiger were choosing a new faith to believe in sincerely starting today, and Christianity and Buddhism were the available choices, he would be crazy to choose the latter and thus take a thousand pounds of karma onto his shoulders at the outset of his spiritual trek. He should obviously take the Get Out of Jail Free card. This is not really how anybody chooses a religion, or it is not supposed to be. We are not supposed to hold beliefs because they are pleasant or convenient or conducive to our happiness: we are supposed to believe that which is true about the world. But if you’ve got a belief to sell to others, as Brit Hume does, it is easier to take the low road. Get ‘em with the “forgiveness” pitch when they’re down! Tell them they can be “born again”! They can talk themselves into the theology and the cosmology and the tall tales later! Perhaps it’s the case that when Christians tell stories about the Devil trying to trick vulnerable humans into signing away their souls, they are projecting their own behaviour onto a fictitious adversary.
The real irony is that if we were choosing a faith for Tiger as a practical guide to his future behaviour, instead of a source of comfort, we might see distinct advantages in Buddhism. The ethical doctrine of the Buddha does not depend on what pleases some divine being; it is founded on the idea that suffering is caused by desire. Does it seem likely that Tiger would argue with that one?
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 11:13 AM - 1 Comment
Tiger Woods reportedly partying in Palm Beach with Rachel Uchitel
While Elin Nordegren is said to be in Sweden for Christmas with the kids, Tiger Woods was reportedly seen partying in Palm Beach on the holiday weekend with Rachel Uchitel (she’s alleged mistress No. 1 for those keeping score). Sources told Entertainment Tonight that the disgraced golfer was seen with her at a nightclub and later holding her hand at a private party. In other Tiger news: a new study by professors at the University of California found that the scandal has cost sponsor shareholders as much as US$12 billion.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 12:25 PM - 23 Comments
It is late to be adding to the mountain of Tigerology, but up until now most analyses of the business impact of the golfing great’s tomcatting have been disappointingly superficial. It is not news to advertisers, even if it is news to the rest of us, that athlete brands are fragile assets. Let’s be honest here: it’s still 2009, and one extramural boyfriend would have done as much economic damage to Tiger Inc. as a dozen girlfriends have. A company that puts its image in the hands of a sportsman can never have enough information about his private life as it needs to establish 100% confidence that there won’t be a meltdown. Celebrities are risky business, but the market in them exists anyway.
It will go on existing, with some of the air taken out of the major international assets. The sales value of an “athlete” like John Daly is adjusted up front (and not only downward!) for volatility: an efficient market knows there’s a certain probability he might end up in jail for writing bad cheques or squabbling with his eighth wife or gambling on gerbil fights. It’s surprising information that creates economic shocks—and that’s why “hypocrisy” is a problem for celebrity endorsers. It’s not because people consider hypocrisy a particularly high crime in itself, but because it can lead to an incorrect assignment of human capital. They’ve been using Tiger to sell aspirational goods, an ideal of achievement and dedication and family living, to the middle class. He should have been peddling cologne, wine coolers, and condoms all along.
Woods, as a brand, will never get back to where he was. The story behind the story is that Old Tiger was a marketing asset you could use absolutely anywhere: adult North Americans aren’t really surprised that a super-fit billionaire might sometimes take a nightclub hostess back to the hotel, but let’s not forget that Woods is also the best-known Asian sports hero on the planet. On this continent “family values” is a patently insincere term, a phrase whose comic nature is obvious by virtue of it having to be formulated in the first place. (“Family values” wouldn’t need any defence if most of us didn’t have higher values that we were actually following most of the time.) Asia, I think, is different. Over there, they still just call ‘em “values”.
Tiger will obviously be forced to readjust, especially since keeping his marriage afloat apparently won’t be an option. The expectation of the public and the commentariat appears to be that this will be a process of personal, spiritual readjustment; that would be great for his image if there were very many goods and services well-suited to be sold by a joyless, contrite, perpetually horny sap, though I guess Bibles and self-help books are always an option. But it would be better for him if he had the self-awareness to embrace larger-than-life/folk hero/beyond-good-and-evil status. (Sports ARE, in some sense, beyond good and evil. They don’t put the green jacket on the golfer who gets voted Miss Congeniality.)
Shaquille O’Neal, whose November divorce got bumped off the sports pages by Tiger, is one of the top endorsers in U.S. sports—hell, he’s an MBA-holding expert in the economics of endorsements! But if you heard he had banged a dozen bottle blondes, wouldn’t your honest first reaction be “So was that all in the same night or did the Diesel spread them out over a whole weekend?” If Derek Jeter got caught doing it, wouldn’t you say “Damn, I guess the Captain finally got tired of brunettes”?
For marketing professionals, the watchwords going forward are: Dark-Side Tiger. Demon-Haunted Tiger. Hedonistic Tiger. And, if and when he gets back on the course, Driven, Avenging Tiger—the ordeal survivor, answering the millions of critics the only way he really knows how, with an iron in his hands. It will be an exciting case study for generations of business majors. If Tiger can rise to the occasion, he will be a much more fascinating figure in the end. We may prefer that our kids model themselves on Arnold Palmer, Ken Griffey, Kurt Warner; but sports is also about, and may be mostly about, the Ty Cobbs. The Mike Tysons. The Ayrton Sennas.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 11:49 AM - 5 Comments
Elin Woods “very close” to signing deal with Nike arch rival
In the latest development of a saga that gets weirder by the second, TMZ.com is reporting that Elin Woods is “very close” to signing a deal with Puma, the athletic wear company whose arch rival is Nike, the brand her husband has represented for more than a decade. An official from Puma confirmed to the website that they are in “internal discussions” to sign Elin as a spokesperson for a new Swedish-inspired clothing line called Trentorn.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 8:51 AM - 15 Comments
Welcome to the Tuesday Mailbag on Wednesday, where approximately everyone is sick and tired of the media’s obsession with the Tiger Woods story, except for those who keep reading and asking about Tiger Woods, which is approximately everyone.
Remember – there are no stupid questions, except for asking Kelly Clarkson if she’s going to finish that hoagie.
First, I crash my car while being chased by my enraged, golf-club-wielding wife (possibly). Then I endure two solid weeks of revelations about the misadventures of my penis (definitely). And now, vague insinuations about HGH use. My question has two parts: What did I do to piss off God, and what’s coming next? – T. Woods, Florida (via Dan222)
T. Woods –
It’s an established fact that God does not interfere in the lives of professional athletes – not because He doesn’t want to, but because these days He’s focused on making sure Lindsay Lohan doesn’t procreate. Even for the omnipotent, that’s a 24/7 kind of deal.
As for what’s coming next, the good news is that Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 12:49 PM - 39 Comments
By Colby Cosh - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 7:47 AM - 19 Comments
I think we have a runaway winner in the 2009 “Brand That Had The Most Difficult Month” sweepstakes. (Some interesting background from the Financial Times.)
By macleans.ca - Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM - 3 Comments
Gillette, AT&T, Accenture have begun to break ties
After announcing on his website that he will be taking an indefinite hiatus from playing professional golf to work on his marriage, Tiger Woods is now seeing his $100 million-a-year endorsement deals falling apart. Gillette announced it will phase Woods from its new year marketing campaign, cleverly claiming that the company is supporting his request for privacy. Meanwhile, AT&T made a statement that it is currently evaluating its relationship with the tarnished mega-star and there is no sign of Woods on the website of Accenture, an international consulting firm. Only Nike and Electronic Arts seem to be keeping the faith.
By Scott Feschuk - Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 8:55 AM - 9 Comments
But I missed the signs. Like when he called me Rachel, then Jamie, Jamie again, then Vijay
Thank you all for coming. Please, take a seat.
I have a confession to make. It’s painful for me to reveal, but I’m a person of integrity and the truth must come out: I, Scott Feschuk, humble magazine columnist, was one of Tiger Woods’s mistresses.
With all we’ve learned these past couple of weeks, it’s demeaning to admit this. I feel so cheap and dirty when I read the tabloids, scan the Internet or use these Ken and Barbie dolls to depict for you the precise mechanics of our lovemaking.
Hang on, I need to bend Barbie all the way back to—there we go.
[A thud is heard near the back of the room.]
Could someone please tend to Mr. Blitzer? I believe he’s fainted.
By Scott Feschuk - Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 5:35 AM - 1 Comment
8. Allow tackling.
7. Wacky “Parnevik” hats now mandatory for all.
6. Have announcers whisper slightly louder.
5. Augusta’s storied Butler Cabin becomes Continue…
By Charlie Gillis, John Intini and Anne Kingston - Friday, December 11, 2009 at 2:25 PM - 14 Comments
FULL STORY: How a car crash exposed the strange and embarrassing life of the world’s greatest athlete
When Elin Nordegren began dating Tiger Woods in March 2002, the golﬁng world greeted her as a country-club Cinderella. Sure, the 21-year-old had come from a respectable background—her father a prominent Swedish journalist, her mother a former cabinet minister. But this was Tiger Woods, the crown prince of golf and, financially speaking, the hands-down catch of the century. His winnings and endorsements would soon surpass $1 billion, making him the most monied athlete in history; his public image was as pristine as a Titleist fresh from the box. As courtship became engagement, speculation mounted among PGA Tour members and their spouses about whether the stunning blond who shrank from the public glare was up to the most important role that, in their charmed world, a woman could have: Mrs. Tiger Woods.
Not so Jesper Parnevik, a Swedish golfer as well-known for his candour as his flamboyant course wear. He and his wife, Mia, had employed Nordegren as a nanny during the previous year, and when Jesper’s travels brought her into contact with Woods during the 2001 British Open, attracting the young phenom’s attention, he appeared to feel some parental responsibility. “I think she’s a bit too good for him,” Parnevik remarked, and he seemed to be only half joking. Nordegren, it later became clear, was worlds removed from the groupies tour members sometimes refer to as “rope-hopers.” Winsome, intelligent and coolly self-possessed, she rebuffed Woods’s first advance because he made it through a third party. Another 20 months would pass before the couple became engaged, and even then the Parneviks remained ambivalent. “Tiger is the one who got the catch,” Mia told Sports Illustrated. “With the weird lifestyle he leads, he might never have met a nice girl. He’s lucky he found Elin.” Continue…