When Tiger Woods took to the web last week to lambaste golf writer Dan Jenkins for his fictitious interview with Woods, the 14-time major winner published his rebuke not on his own web site or as a guest op-ed in an established newspaper or magazine but on Derek Jeter’s upstart blog The Players’ Tribune.
For Woods’ camp, it was the right platform at the right time.
“They were aware that we were encouraging athletes to speak their mind,” Tribune editorial director Gary Hoenig told Golf.com in an e-mail. “I think they felt we were reaching a broader audience than their site.”
Since the Tribune launched in October, several high-profile athletes have contributed first-person stories. NBA star Blake Griffin wrote a revealing piece about his experiences with disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Another NBA player, Jason Collins, announced his retirement on the Tribune.
Woods is the first golfer to grab a byline. He and Jeter are friends. Both endorse the swoosh. And both are represented by Excel Sports Management. But, according to Hoenig, Jeter did not influence Woods’ decision to write for the site. “Derek didn’t solicit the piece and only knew about it when we got it,” Hoenig says.
As for the structure and tone of Woods’ essay, which described Jenkins’ mock interview as “a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination” and “an underhanded attack on me as an athlete, as a professional and as a person” — was that all Woods, or did he receive some editorial guidance?
“The thrust of the piece came from him,” Hoenig said. “We offer editing advice on all pieces but only at the discretion of the athlete.”
Some observers admired Woods’s boldness. Other criticized it. Sportswriter Kavitha A. Davidson wrote on BloombergView.com that the piece “simply reminds everyone that [Woods] takes himself far too seriously.” Alan Shipnuck, a Sports Illustrated writer, opined on this site, “This dustup isn’t really about Jenkins, it’s about Tiger and his handlers, specifically their breath-taking cluelessness when it comes to the media.”
Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson tweeted, “Tiger trying to fight back at Dan Jenkins is a bit like trying to swim up a waterfall. Niagara comes to mind.”
“The response was more extreme that we’ve seen from other pieces, for obvious reasons,” Hoenig said. “I’m amused by the defensive and often condescending posture of some journalists, but it’s not surprising.”
What was surprising was that Woods, who is usually reluctant to share his opinions publicly, wrote the piece at all. It was a rare glimpse in to his psyche and begs the question, Will we see more Tribune contributions from Woods?
“We’d certainly welcome them, but it’s entirely up to him,” Hoenig said.
So how about it, Tiger? The question was posed to Woods, along with several others, through his spokesman Glenn Greenspan.
The response: “At this time, we have nothing further to add to the matter.”