TEXT OF INTERVIEW
LISA NAPOLI: Here’s a nice Christmas present: Tiger Woods just signed a new deal with Nike. The details haven’t been released but consider that his last contract was for $100 million and that was more than double what he got when he first came on the scene. Business of sports commentator Diana Nyad says all this may be good for Tiger, but she says Tiger isn’t necessarily good for golf:
DIANA NYAD: I mean, you know, he is great. He is just plain great. To my mind, at least since I’ve been alive there have been three transcendent athletes, three athletes who just walk among the angels basically and that was Mohammad Ali, then it was Michael Jordon and now it’s Tiger. All around the world, I mean this is the most remarkable, most recognizable athlete and because of his charisma and a man of color in a lily-white country club sport, he’s, you know, he’s — you wanna touch him.
NAPOLI: So he’s a great PR stunt for golf. He gets people like me to pay attn to it even though I don’t care about it but he’s not good for the sport itself is what you’re thinking?
NYAD: I guess this is the way I’m putting it is, if you were No. 300 on the professional golf tour, on the men’s tour, and at the end your 10 years you turn to your wife and say, ‘You know what, it was worth it. I made some pretty good money and I got to see the world.’ But what if you’re Davis Love III? What if you’re Fred Funk? What if you’re Phil Mickelson? Who are the best golfers in the world. Your names are basically mud because you’re playing in the era of Tiger. And what if you’re a tournament director? And Tiger’s gonna be there so you’re happy. The TV ratings are gonna soar through the roof, the people are gonna stand out by the thousands out front just to catch him getting a snow cone as he goes into the clubhouse. And what if he cancels? What if he says, ‘eh you know I just won the Masters and I want to spend a week with my wife.’ Tiger says, ‘eh I’m going to take off the Tour Championship this year.’ Which he did. Then the tour director and the television entities and whatnot sink because who wants to come watch Davis Love III? So all these players playing right now, how would you like to be the No. 2 player in the world right now?
NAPOLI: Well we don’t have to worry about that, me and golf, maybe basketball, but not golf. Now what about Michelle Wie? She’s sort of the female equivalent of Tiger Woods in terms of the mania around her.
NYAD: Yeah and you know the only crazy part about Michelle Wie, first of all she’s younger than Tiger, she’s still a teenager but she is a phenomenon. The only difference is she hasn’t won anything yet. She hasn’t proven herself. And so those other women on the tour, as classy as they try to be, they are resentful. I mean the kids signs for $50 million with Nike, another $20 million with Sony and she’s never won anything, at least professionally. But she’s just decided in the coming fall season to go to Stanford University. She wants to get an education and I personally think that this is a great PR move. I don’t think it’s a PR move, she wants to go to school but I think it’s going to do a lot to bolster her image and make people like her a little more.
NAPOLI: That’s our commentator Diana Nyad. In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli. Happy holidays.
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