Golf fans aren't the only ones who devoured every revelation about the Tiger Woods sex scandal. Woods is a black athlete who dominates a sport that has long been nearly all white, says Hampton Stevens in The Atlantic, so his career has a significance in our society that extends far beyond the world of golf. For sports fans, what happens when Woods returns to professional golf may be the most important part of his story. For those who care more about what he represents off the course, Stevens says, Woods' comeback is just an "epilogue." Here's an excerpt:
"Is Tiger Woods a sports story? At first glance the question seems absurd, but it turns out to be a kind of Rorschach test, with your answer saying a lot about why you do, or don't, follow big-time American spectator sports.
"Like any modern celebrity, professional athletes are paid to be in the public eye — to project an image, both on and off the field. Fans who love Tiger Woods and companies who pay him to endorse products aren't interested only in his golf game any more than people who care about Jennifer Aniston are only interested in her films.
"For Woods, a non-white athlete dominating a historically segregated sport, the broader social implications of his career have always been immense. Woods' success, for instance, was unquestionably part of the process that helped Americans accept the idea of a non-white president. The revelations of infidelities, while certainly embarrassing and costly, only broadened his significance as a social figure."