Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiger, Tiger memorabilia and the whole salacious affair: Thoughts from the Heritage Auctions Blog

Dec. 9, 2009
Posted by Noah

Perhaps you live in a cave somewhere deep in the mountains. Maybe you're a survivalist in a tree house deep in the woods living off your wiles. If that is the case, then you can be forgiven for not knowing about the ugly details of the unraveling of the monolith that was Tiger Woods.

I don't want to pile on to Tiger, because he's certainly getting a deserved pounding right now in the media and from his diminished fan base, but this is a monster entirely of his own making. Before two weeks ago, a suspicious car crash and the revelation of many women that they were paramours of the World's #1 golfer, Tiger's meticulously crafted and carefully guarded public image was squeaky clean to the point of shining. Now, not so much...

Now, Heritage Auctions is not the biggest dealer in Tiger memorabilia, but we have sold some... Though none since the story broke... so it's difficult to say if values will go down in a concrete sense - there is no proof yet. But...

I've spoken with most of my friends about this mess, many folks here, and with Heritage's Director of Sports Auctions, Chris Ivy, who was kind enough to spare a few minutes of his time for to discuss this whole debacle, and in his quite erudite opinion, and I'm paraphrasing Chris, how in the world could this not affect the value of his pieces? At least not in the short term.

Here's the thing: Most of us wanted to believe that Tiger was a clean as his image. He is the single greatest golf player (almost) of all-time, and his sport is easily the most elegant and refined of any major sport. It all added up magnificently - it was perfect. He's the greatest athlete in the world, people fall at his feet, and yet he was a charitable, humble man, a loving father and husband and, best of all, a sober role model for the millions that adore(d) him. We all want badly for it to be true... So badly... Now it seems that he, on many of those levels, is not what he presented himself to be. Speculation runs rampant.

What hurts the most is that this is the image Tiger himself wanted to project, and he did it masterfully. Had he never been presented as the Super Man, his fall from grace would have been less stunning. But it's not. It's actually more stunning, as it always is when a carefully constructed house of cards comes tumbling down.

The real revelation, which shouldn't be a revelation at all, is that Tiger is simply a man, and he is flawed like every one, and replete with weaknesses like every human. We all deal with pressure in different ways and - to say the least - most of us can never even consider the kind the kind of pressure that Tiger is under day in and day out, let alone reckon how to deal with it. In that sense, Tiger deserves somewhat of a break, I suppose, though there is little anodyne for the sting of this disappointment.

Would it do Tiger any good to pull a Kobe? Should he buy Elin a great big rock and change his ways? I do believe the public would welcome back a penitent Tiger with open arms, especially if he is sincere in his reformation. Mrs. Woods, however? Most of us can answer the question for ourselves as to where we would stand were it us. But we're not necessarily married to the single most charismatic person on the planet, no matter how much I tell my wife she is...

It will be interesting in the months to come to see how Tiger plays golf under the added scrutiny, and how his memorabilia plays given his recent tribulations. A couple major championships should ease the pressure a bit... It's that very pursuit, however, that got him into this situation in the first place.

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-Noah Fleisher

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