Tiger Woods gifting tennis and skiing

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on December 11, 2009 10:30 pm

It is no secret that Tiger Woods is to Golf what Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson combined were to basketball.  There is hardly an athlete in sports who caused the rest of the athletes to matter less.  Tiger was an absolute rock star for golf. 

Now with the recent issues surrounding Tiger Woods and Golf, it is clear that the other two lifetime sports skiing and tennis will likely see some market share benefit from the chaos/situation.  Here are a brief smattering of some of the variables at play:

  • TV – when Tiger was recovering from knee surgery, TV ratings plummeted a full 50%!  That is not exactly a rounding error.  Now he is potentially gone forever.  Not good for golf as he is basically the ballgame.  Tiger is to a golf broadcast as Bruce Springsteen is to a Bruce Springsteen concert. 
  • Media – for sure you are going to see a lot less news coverage of Golf.  That is TV, magazine, newspaper and web.  Tiger was the driver of more golf press than the next 5 golfers combined.  Once this crazy press goes away, the majority of golf stories will focus on the shock that golf is going to get without Tiger. 
  • Money – a lot less money is going to be floating around golf.  If you work in the golf industry, part of the reason you make what you do is because of the effect of Tiger.  He simply raises the tide for all the boats.  Additionally, when all these package goods and automobile category players, use Tiger to market their products – they are unwittingly promoting golf.  All that promotion goes away with the money. 
  • Participation – lets face it, there was hardly a better role model.  He caused people to take up and to play golf.  He went from role model to the antithesis of a role model in many people’s eyes.  Just like the kid who shows up at the club dressed from head to toe like Nadal, Tiger was the inspiration for many. 
  • Golf Clubs – (not drivers and irons) membership will go down at clubs across the country.  These memberships will be easy to drop when the exposure for golf goes down.  When a club loses a few members, there is always a few more to follow them out the door.  Golf Clubs have already taken it on rump of late and Tiger was the sports’ lift.
  • Cool Factor – If he was 50% of the television ratings, he had to be 80% of the cool of the sport (game.)  Is golf even a sport?  I think it should be called a game… John Daly?  Tiger is golfs’ “IT” girl and their is no line of replacements around the corner. 

As an aside, one questionthat has not been asked to blatantly in the press is … where were the handlers?  This is the games billion dollar boy.  Again, Tiger was the Bruce Springsteen concerts’ Bruce Springsteen.  Was there no one from the tour, management, et al thinking that maybe some interventioning needed to happen along the path to over a dozen potentially golf nuclear bombs out there?  Granted he is his own guy, but at some point in time was there not an understanding of the risk involved to all the ancillary stuff around the superstar.  Jobs are going to be lost here.  Lots and lots of them. Commercials are not going to air.  Tickets are not going to be sold.  This is going to be devastating to golf.  Was there not someone near and dear who had the nuggets to say “Hey Tiger, you can live your life the way you want, but you are probably crossing the line here?”

The big winners in this deal are going to be the sister lifetime sports, skiing and tennis.  For skiing, the timing is impeccible.  You are looking at the best snow season likely in our lifetimes and an Olympic year with the games in North America.  You have bonifide real stars in Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn as well as a lot of others.   In tennis, you are looking at a bunch of cash cow athletes seemingly healthy and squeeky clean (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, etc.)  Andy Murray’s girlfriend just broke up with him because of his addiction to video games – that is about as bad as it is right now.  In a couple years Andy, Roger, Rafa, Venus, Serena, Maria are probably going to be in exit mode, but for now they are working.

It is a bad way to earn market share, but likely skiing and tennis are going to be benefitting Tigergate.