With the world's greatest golfer having quadruple bogeyed his marriage before the world, there is not much further for him to slide in the public's estimation. Restoring Tiger's marketing roar is a salvage job along the lines of Michael Vick, who launched his own comeback in 2009 from dog-killing charges.
Like Vick's narrative, Woods's carefully scripted comeback strategy will be the object of endless fascination for the talking heads in sports journalism.
The principal focus will be when, where and how the No.1 player launches his choreographed comeback.
Woods announced an indefinite hiatus from golf, but everyone from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem down to Caddyshack's Carl Spackler wants to know what does indefinite mean? Will he make his comeback for the Masters in April? Would he miss the Pebble Beach U.S. Open in June or the Old Course British Open at St. Andrews in July? Could he pass on the entire season?
How this PR disaster affects Woods's game as he stalks Jack Nicklaus's record for wins in a major will also follow him as he resumes play.
Will the galleries make his life miserable?
Already, the Oprahs and 60 Minutes are positioning themselves for the definitive comeback interview. The networks who count on Woods to drive their ratings are likewise jockeying to get the comeback event on their watch.
Assuming Woods comes back this year, expect Tiger Agonists to be one of the most anticipated media events of 2010.
The intense buildup for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver has left little wiggle room for Canada to fail. After a blanketing market push to Own The Podium, Canada expects its team to come first overall when the medals are counted. Anything less than third overall will be seen by many as an epic failure. Should Canada not win the hockey gold, it could even affect Stephen Harper's plans for the next election call.
How will the Canadian Olympic broadcasters of CTV/TSN/Sportsnet handle the hype and/or disappointment of the Games? This is the first Olympics since Barcelona in 1992 without CBC coverage. The national broadcaster always seemed to find the proper line between cheering the home team and critical eye for the sports guys. With so much invested, will the consortium do the same, or will they go over the top?
As well, does the unholy marriage between rivals CTV and Rogers have the depth of personnel behind and in front of the camera? There's established talent with host Brian Williams and in hockey, curling and alpine skiing. But can anyone replace Steve Armitage's legendary race calls for other sports? Or Ron MacLean's studio work? How the Games are covered in Canada will be almost as compelling as the Olympics themselves. To say nothing of the media voices of the world rendering judgment on Canada's effort in Vancouver.
When the Olympics end, many will be watching the bottom line in the media business. There's a feeling the massive Games effort in Canada forestalled changes that are wreaking havoc in the rest of the TV and newspaper business. Can the CTV/ Rogers consortium make the numbers work after their bold gamble in seizing the Olympics from CBC?
With the economy still jittery, many advertisers having drained the bank for the Olympics and new media battering the conventional press, will the landscape morph even further as the year goes on? Cutbacks and bankruptcies have already devastated many long-standing figures in the media business. Could 2010 be the year we see even worse? Or will they right the ship in the face of challenges from TMZ, Deadspin and others?
Toronto Radio Daze
When the Games end, long-time FAN 590 program director Nelson Millman will officially sign off from the job he began in 1992. Millman says he's happy for the new challenge at Sportsnet, but there were rumblings he was weary of the pressure for change at the major sports radio station in the country. With Millman gone, will a new PD take a knife to the morning show, which seems stalled in the ratings? How about the other programs leading into Bob McCown, the ratings giant who floats the FAN's boat?
If the new PD comes from another sports radio market, will he or she bring along their talent as well? With Talk640 encroaching on the FAN 590's sports territory at lunch and in drive time, this transition will bear watching in 2010.