Why Tiger Woods’ New Nike Ad Is Brilliant

He went, in one almost hilarious night, from hero today to gone tomorrow.

All it takes to go from deified to vilified is one broken marriage, one broken golf club, and one broken relationship with you adoring public.

Tiger Woods proved he wasn’t perfect, so the people cast aspersions, stones and him aside.

He had sex with how many women? Perhaps even he lost count. Perhaps he never tried to count. We did it for him.

Of course, some of his former bedfellows came out to make a little money from his reputation’s carcass. It was a game. Fair game.

He limped away. So many said he’d never be the same again. He was spent.

Now old Smuggins has come back. Not all the way, but enough to win a couple of tournaments. Enough to be a threatening presence. Enough, on the strange ranking system that exists in golf, to be deemed again the world’s best.

To celebrate, Nike and its ad agency produced an ad.

It shows a simple picture of Woods in deepest concentration. But it’s the words that have raised eyebrows and hackles.

“Winning Takes Care of Everything.”

Within fewer minutes that it takes to have sex witha stranger, supposed crisis experts emerged to utter criticism.

One described the ad as “brazen.”


“This could get fans fired up. Woods is better than that. Nike is better than that. Every human being who has a heart, as well as a head, understands that’s its always about more than just winning,” Mike Paul, crisis expert, told Ad Age.

Here was Tiger Woods disgracefully unrepentant.

He was supposedly telling the world that his kids didn’t matter, his ex-wife didn’t matter, the criticism didn’t matter.

All that matters is this Woody Hayesism.

This Woodsy Hayesmaker.

Does he have no shame?

Nike, naturally, kept a straight face.

“Tiger has always said he competes to win. When asked about his goals such as getting back to No. 1, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there. The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance.” These were the words of a spokeswoman for Nike Golf, Beth Gast.

Oh, Beth. I am a-gast.

This ad, as Beth surely knows, isn’t about Tiger Woods. It’s about us.

It’s about how we decide who is worth our time, our admiration and that thing we call our love.

It’s about how we place the crown on heads and remove them when our whim dictates.

This man left his wife? This man slept with harlots? Off with his head, we cry.

But we never stop to imagine that we are less Judge Judy and more Judge Judas.

We demand of others precisely the things that we rarely demand of ourselves. We go to work and act the nice guy in order to get ahead.

But when Woods did that, when he gave us what we wanted — something that he couldn’t live up to — we banished him from our sanctimonious Kingdom.

Now that he’s winning, we think we can forgive and forget. What this ad tells us so poetically is that Woods may not.

He sees us rushing toward him again, crawling to once more grab a touch of his hem or at least a replica of his golf shirt.

He sees us suddenly cheering for him not because we suddenly approve of his morals — not even because he has a new nice, blonde, successful, athletic girlfriend — and not even because we’re such great Christian forgivers.

We’re cheering precisely because he’s winning. If he’s winning, we tell ourselves that we’re winning.

When he started playing again but wasn’t winning, we weren’t forgiving.

Now, for us Tiger, Tiger is burning bright.

That Tiger, Tiger was always quite bright.

So now he wants us to know one thing: he saw us coming.