EA Sports says that it has no intention of abandoning its endorsement deals with Tiger Woods because despite the trouble in his personal life, he remains one of the greatest athletes in the world.
There's an old proverb, reputedly Chinese, that says, "May you live in interesting times." One man whose times are definitely more interesting than most is Tiger Woods, who in the space of a single SUV mishap went from respected family man and world's greatest golfer to humiliated, philandering horndog - and world's greatest golfer. His dalliances have cost him dearly as one sponsor after another has fled the sinking ship, but EA Sports President Peter Moore says that in spite of it all, the videogame publisher is standing by its man.
"Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser. Far from it," Moore explained on his blog. "We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world's best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come."
"By his own admission, he's made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what's happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history," he continued. "When we say 'It's in the Game,' it is not just a tag line but a statement about the quality and authenticity of the game experience. Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is truly representative of that rallying cry, and a game that all of us at EA Sports are proud to be delivering this month to sports fans around the globe."
And to that, I say bravo. I don't particularly care about Tiger Woods but there's something vaguely dishonest about the way corporations put the man in front of the public as a paragon of consumer-friendly perfection and then throw him to the wolves the moment he fails to live up to that impossible standard. Woods may be a dog but he's still the best golfer in the world. Isn't that what we're supposed to care about?
The browser-based Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online goes into open beta later this month for the PC and Mac.