This is why we talked about Tiger

We got a lot of heat from you for talking about Tiger Woods – especially from the States. ‘It’s WHYS: the tabloid edition’ said Alan in Arizona, and quite a few of you said you were turning off. But I’m afraid the more I look at this story and the way we’re consuming it the more I think there is plenty to talk about and the more I think it is far from trivial. This is why…

We didn’t spend an hour updating you on the details of Tiger’s private life. We spent an hour discussing why millions of us are delighting in Tiger’s misfortune and are quite prepared to consume very intimate and emotional details from his family’s experience. That that is happening on such a great scale raises issues about human nature, about the entertainment we seek and the kind of information we want about the world.

Talk about Iraq lots of you told us. But go to the Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPo, the BBC and many others. People spoke with their mouse – they wanted information on Tiger more than they did on Iraq.

Lawrence Donegan writes today, ‘Happy now? Happy now we have all had the chance to listen to a distraught Swedish woman on the phone to the Florida emergency services, apparently believing her mother has just collapsed and died on the bathroom floor?’

He’s talking about the fact our voracious appetite for this story lead millions of us to listen to that 911 call. Of all the things we could be doing with our time, this was what we chose.

He goes on….

‘Did people really fight and die for the right of porn stars to claim they had clandestine affairs with world-famous golfers and that this idle boasting would then be treated as the gospel truth?

Maybe they did, but I can’t believe these people will be happy to see what has been done in their name; to see the mob, angry at the betrayal of an athlete they stupidly elevated to the status of a deity and intent on extracting maximum revenge for no better reason than it feels good.’

How we consume news media and how we react to public figures and their lives are two massive evolving issues in the world we live in. Both are being put under the microscope by the Tiger story.

That to me is fascinating. I remain bemused why you think we’re trying to talk about who slept with who. We’re not. There are bigger issues at play here.

36 Responses to “This is why we talked about Tiger”

  1. 1 Linda from Italy
    December 10, 2009 at 10:27

    Hi Ros,
    I think I have to admit that WHYS and its public actually did get it right. At first I was a bit miffed at this boring trivia receiving a whole hour of BBC WS time, also have to admit that I’m such a Beeb junkie that I wouldn’t go so far as to turn it off, not least because you have to do something with your mind while cooking dinner 😉
    The discussion that developed did indeed turn out to be interesting as it addressed the issue of why so many of us are so obsessed with celeb shenanigans and while you got the usual “I blame the media” howls (not our fault mate – it’s those pesky journos), there was a lot of interesting comment, especially on the subject of those who actually take public images seriously and would buy a product on the strength of celebrity endorsement – how quaint!
    One last confession, I think I was bored by the Tiger business precisely because I don’t consider a golfer anything approaching a celeb, total nonentity, terminally boring game – just how could anyone possibly call a golfer an ”athlete”?
    Well done WHYS – yet again.

  2. December 10, 2009 at 11:11

    Salaam from Baghdad, the city of pain, hope, and magic tales,
    Well, I as a Baghdadi citizen couldn’t care less about the Tiger Woods’ story, but that doesn’t at all mean that I should judge the opinions of your listeners and contributors from all over the world according to my own opinions… If people all over the world wanted to talk about Mr Woods, then who on earth am I to judge them ? With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

    • 3 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
      December 10, 2009 at 16:10

      Lubna, during the past several days of Tigermania, I was far more worried about you, your family, your friends and neighbours than I was about Mr. Woods.

      I’m glad to see you post, as it means you are all right, despite the bombings and violence in Baghdad this week.

      Affectionately, Tara

    • December 10, 2009 at 17:50

      Very pleased to know you are alive and kicking,after this weeks Baghdad horror,Lubna.

  3. 6 steve
    December 10, 2009 at 11:44

    A bunch of bozos are also going to be talking about who shows up to an awards ceremony wearing what. Are you going to do a show on that simply because people are “talking about it”?

  4. 7 vijay pillai
    December 10, 2009 at 12:12

    Tiger is a very handsome and a very rich and a famous sports star only 33 and no one on this planet can claim such a achiement. As a practical man i take the view that there are african kings with so many wives and i would not be surprised that there are many women falling head ovew heal for him Tiger story boring but sorry for his mil happened to fall ill not a relevant matter.

  5. December 10, 2009 at 12:51

    The most I’ve heard about Tiger has been from this blog. In fact I think I have some idea of what all this is about because of your line “who slept with who.” I don’t care about your private life, Tiger’s, or anyone else’s.

    The universe is intensely fascinating. Just today I learned that scientists in Australia have worked out a way to squeeze light (so that you can use thinner fibre-optics). I read about the work of the various Engineers Without Borders groups around the world. I was reminded that on this day in History Ernest Rutherford won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I learned about a robot that completed an underwater crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and the potential of silicon-germanium nanowires and the quantum dot.

    Then, thanks to you I also inadvertently learned something about Tiger Woods that ought to be his own business (and that of his family and possibly friends).

  6. 9 Chintan in Houston
    December 10, 2009 at 12:56

    Wasn’t the best show at WHYS but it was still news worthy. Its just that 60 minutes was too much for most listeners.

  7. 10 Frank Delaqua from Beluga, Alaska.
    December 10, 2009 at 13:14

    The type of guests on your show last night indicated to me that it was an all round poor effort – I felt the decision to discuss this (again), to the overtly frantic pleas all day for people to contact you was poor. People who want to contact you about this will contact you.

    I take your explanation Ros and see the logic followed but the show didn’t clear the bar for me.


    I wont be listening to a similar topic, but thats just me. I’m sure there were plenty who tuned in and enjoyed it.

    Thank you for your time,

  8. 11 patti in cape coral
    December 10, 2009 at 13:49

    Thanks for having me on the show, WHYS, I was so nervous! I understand why you had the show, and I agree it’s more about us than you (the media), although the media is not completely blameless. As I said, I just wish more people were interested in other things. As far as the show goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and you guys do a great job. I actually don’t object so much as to the show about Tiger, just that it was more than one in such a short time, and there are so many more interesting and important things happening in the world, in my opinion anyways. I do like the angle of the show though, at least to focus less on the prurient details.

  9. 12 Peter Gizzi UK
    December 10, 2009 at 14:43

    I used the democratic choice and switched to Radio 4. I think Lubna Peace be with her got it right.

  10. 13 Joe in NC
    December 10, 2009 at 14:55

    Glad I missed it. I don’t care how you justify it, people have traded gossip over the misfortune of others (i’m sure) since time immemorial. What makes the current fascination with this family’s (alleged) troubles any different. Call it what you will, I will call it pandering to humanity’s worst instincts.

  11. 14 Gary Paudler
    December 10, 2009 at 15:07

    There must be no shortage of outlets from which I could hear All Tiger, All the Time. I understand your point that your interest may not be in Woods and his follies but in the way “consumers” of media are responding. A show, done on that basis, might inform your curiosity on a fairly narrow aspect of a trivial story, but to the extent that your regular audience looks to you for considered discussion of important subjects that we can’t find elsewhere, you can understand the annoyance that our cherished corner of the media has been hijacked by prurient fascination with the inconsequential, even if for only one more hour.

  12. 15 Katie
    December 10, 2009 at 16:31

    I was watching the Today Show in the states this morning and one of their lead stories was one of Tiger’s supposed mistress and her “breaking her silence” and the text messages that are supposedly from Tiger.
    I think that if the Today Show can lead with that story then WHYS, which is a program driven by what people are talking about, got it right with yesterday’s show.

  13. 16 jade
    December 10, 2009 at 16:33

    Tiger is special in many ways. I usually don’t follow any sport because of an athelete. And, I am not sure natural habitats should be destroyed to build golf courses. But, I did begin to watch golf because of Tiger Woods. I am sorry that people have 2 opposite sides and the revelation came in such a shocking manner.

  14. 17 John in Salem
    December 10, 2009 at 16:46

    I wasn’t just trying to be cute with my comment yesterday about Woods being the fallen Hero. There really are deeper motivations for why we elevate people like him to that level of mythic status and why we revel in their falls.
    When you look at human history there are consistent patterns to our behavior and the imagery we use to express it throughout all societies and cultures. Comparative mythology and it’s relationship to psychology, religion and dream show that we have a common and profound need for these kinds of figures in our lives, how we select them and why we set them up, so to speak, to act out classic roles in our own internal dramas.
    It doesn’t let him or anyone else off the hook for their behavior but it does strongly suggest that there is more going on than simply a media-drive “cult of celebrity”. The people who accept the mantle of being larger than life unwittingly put their heads on the block on our behalf and it is no surprise that we have created an industry around them and the exposures of their mortality.

  15. 18 James
    December 10, 2009 at 16:50

    Ros’ it’s simple for me.
    “We spent an hour discussing why millions of us are delighting in Tiger’s misfortune and are quite prepared to consume very intimate and emotional details from his family’s experience.”
    Down through the history of the world, we have put all our hopes, dreams and our children’s hopes and dreams into people with feet of CLAY! We continually raise these people above our heads, carry them on our shoulders and cry “look how great they are”, and at the same time others in the crowd are doing all that’s humanly possible to bring them crashing down. When they fail, particularly at the height of their popularity, we are distort! We are so involved, that it is impossible to disconnect from the frenzy………. We do it, over, and over, and over! Really we are most angry at ourselves, we try and mask it in. Oh, look how they have let OUR children down! Hardly any real concern is for the wife, in this case, or the children, or his close friends! Their betrayal is real!
    Tiger is doing the correct thing. He should be first trying to rebuild trust within his family circle. IT IS NOT OUR CONCERN! IT IS NOT OUR BUSINESS!

  16. 19 Alan in Arizona
    December 10, 2009 at 17:11

    @ Lubna! Glad to hear your doing OK! All my best wishes and may peace and safety be with you and all you know!

    And the same to all of you that care more about her and the real issues.

    I will admit I made fun of yesterdays show. But I will also admit the main issue should be a concern to many and I did appreciate why Ros and the crew choose to look at it. I did take great enjoyment reading the posts yesterday. It felt good to know that there are others out there that care about real issues and real people like Lubna.

    I will be honest and say I did take a certain amount of pleasure from seeing someone with an amazing life screw it up royally. It does make me feel good to be a normal, caring and kind person who enjoys being productive at work and giving of myself and my art to others when they need assistance or just something to cheer them up.

    I do like Tiger and it is sad this has happened to him with such a media frenzy! But that’s were my pleasure comes in. The 2 women I work with ( 1 is the bosses wife ) usually watch soap operas as they work. But when something like this comes up they are constantly switching channels to hear the latest news or comment. At least that the way it seems. So in as much I do find enjoyment in the sarcastic humor that flies about at work on the topic. Funny comments and sarcastic jokes voiced by workers as they walk through the room keeps the mood light and friendly as the day goes by.

    So even with the topic getting a little old, it still brings a little joy to some peoples lives, to some small extent.

  17. 20 gary
    December 10, 2009 at 17:34

    Mr. Atkins,
    I objected to yesterday’s show concerning Mr. Woods because I believe in some instances media attention to an incident causes more evil than the incident ever could do. Please understand my concern here is not for Mr. Woods (for whom I now hold little regard), but for those most deeply affected by his unfaithfullnes – his family. They (the children especially) must must now watch as the other parent contends with rude camera and microphone-thrusting reporters. Godness, this is no way to spend Christmas! And at what fault are they – none what-so-ever. You folks have long past elevated yourselves much above this predatory reporting style. Collective desire does not grant moral rectitude to the want, nor does an audience’s desire to hear automatically grant license to broadcast.

  18. 21 jade
    December 10, 2009 at 17:34

    John in Salem said it well.

  19. 22 ecotopian
    December 10, 2009 at 17:38

    Frank Deford on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday did a fantastic piece about the media coverage of Tiger Woods. The take away quote from it sums it up:

    “So far as I can tell, the only two specialties in journalism that are expanding today are gossip and sports statistics. Well, we get the kind of journalism we deserve. And the tabloid media succeed so well because they are protected by what we might call the First-and-a half Amendment: a combination of freedom of the press and the right to shoot from the hip.”

    People are consuming this story because it is being pushed at them. News organizations around the US are cutting their reporting staffs and are relying on services like the AP for stories. It is cheaper to do gossip stories than it is to do real, hard news. This is the reason we are getting a slew of these sorts of stories. It isn’t because people want them. It’s because it is easier and cheaper.

    I subscribed to the daily email because I liked the news stories you folks covered. They are, for the most part, quite thought provoking. They give my mind something to chew on for the rest of the day even if I don’t listen to the show or respond to the email. When you start wallowing in the shallow end of the news is when want to stop receiving the email. You are and can do better than this.

  20. 23 paul8222
    December 10, 2009 at 17:43

    Like others very pleased that Lubna is OK. Celeb chasing has no interest for me.
    I try to avoid sitting in judgement, however, it does annoy me when it shrouds everything else.

  21. 24 Jennifer
    December 10, 2009 at 18:07

    I have to say that I agree with ecotopian. The only reason that people are consuming this story is because it’s being shoved at us. It’s everywhere! We can’t get away from it! 😛

    To talk about the fact that TW had an accident in public is one thing. Talking about Tiger Woods’ infidelity, his wife’s reactions, and their decisions afterwords is another. The car accident makes me angry that someone could be so careless when they could have hurt other innocent people. The entire personal situation makes me sad for Tiger Woods’ family; particularly his children.

    Tiger Woods shouldn’t have been a WHYS topic.

  22. 25 stephen/portland
    December 10, 2009 at 18:16

    So-called Stars and people in the public eye don’t interest me unless they have a direct effect on my life such as political leaders so I skipped the show. But I think you should do more light hearted stuff occasionally, but the type of brad-gelina tabloid nonsense is not right on this show.

    I think it’s beneath the caliber of the show and the people involved.

    You cant please all of the people all of the time. If someone has no interest in one of your discussions, just do like I do and skip it until the next day.

    No big deal.

  23. 26 Bert
    December 10, 2009 at 18:56

    Speaking for myself, obviously, I not only couldn’t care less about Tiger’s private life, but I couldn’t care less about his talent. The fact is, if more people felt as I do, Tiger Woods would not be rich. Instead, he would perhaps send little spheres down holes in the ground on weekends, and he would do something productive during the week.

    I am not impressed by riches for their own sake. I am not impressed by most athletes and most other so-called celebraties.

    Furthermore, what I find truly baffling, is that there are hordes of people out there who continually denigrate the captains of industry for making their obscene incomes, but not the likes of pro athletes. Me, I denigrate both. Obscene incomes are obscene no matter who makes them.

  24. 27 Kate M.
    December 10, 2009 at 19:07

    I don’t think people always read what you at WHYS have posted for the topics. If they did they would know the show was about the public obsession for celebrities. I recommend people read the full post before they comment.

  25. 28 claudine
    December 11, 2009 at 01:39

    after all, its about sports which should be handled on the “Sports” page.

    What can that guy anyway do other than “play games” and getting too much money for just playing.

  26. 29 Candy Lee
    December 11, 2009 at 07:44

    Ros, i like your staying focused- that we are trying to UNDERSTAND WHY people are eager to know what is going on with T.W. rather than to KNWO WHAT is going on with T.W.

  27. 30 Ros Atkins
    December 11, 2009 at 14:49

    Hi all of you. sorry this has taken me a while to respond to you all – i was off doing a presentation course all of yesterday. thanks for all your comments. i won’t re-iterate what i say at the top, but i still think we got thus one right.

  28. December 13, 2009 at 18:48

    ..hey Ros, it was neither your fault or the BBC’s on why you had to talk about Tiger. What i couldn’t understand is why people couldn’t understand the objective of world have your say- user controlled program based on the big news of the day. I think they should blame the search engines then for making the story appear way up there on the search results

  29. 32 T
    December 13, 2009 at 23:42

    Why do they continue to do it? Because they know that most of the public is too lazy to actually turn this off. And even if Tiger never plays again, he’s set for life. So financially this isn’t going to finish him off.

    Why not talk about the effect of this on his wife and kids instead?

  30. 33 DG
    December 14, 2009 at 09:16

    I agree with ecotopian, Jennifer, et al. People are obsessed with celebrity in large part because the media feeds them celebrity to be obsessed with.

    Analogies to NBC’s Today show, Huffpo, or anything else of the news=entertainment variety are not remotely flattering to the BBC World Service, a Service that played a role in the 2nd World War, the fall of Communism … and so on.

  31. 34 Elias
    December 14, 2009 at 18:48

    Famous people are always in the news especially when they get involved in a way that creates a scandal like the one in which Tiger Woods now finds himself.
    Its nothing new it goes on all over the world when a famous person is easily seduced by women who feel that having sex with a famous person is something of an achievement. A man’s weakness is to have sex with a woman he finds desireable, a woman’s strength is to seduce such a man. One rarely hears of a famous woman, married with children having sex with seductive men.
    The BBC is quite right to follow up with the story which makes for more interest especially to women so they can have a good gossip about it. We live in a world that bad and scandalous news is interesting news.

  32. 35 Ronald Almeida
    December 15, 2009 at 12:59

    W ho the —- is tiger woods. A hero of mindless sports fans?

  33. 36 T
    December 16, 2009 at 04:57

    Just heard on BBC 4 that Tiger Woods break from golf could damage the game.

    Actually, what’s damaged the game is allowing somebody so much power on the PGA Tour. Is it true that many players were afraid to make him look bad? If it is, why did the PGA allow this to happen?

    It’s not just a business. People are involved as well and this has to be taken into account.

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