MAYBE ECONOMIC THEORY CAN shed some light on the Tiger Woods situation. Even though I never felt entirely comfortable with the subject, I did get a degree in economics from San Diego State. I admit I don’t remember much, but I do recall that our textbooks were jammed with graphs used to explain relationships between things such as unemployment and inflation, demand and price, guns (military spending) and butter (school lunches).
Maybe a graph can explain the relationship between Tiger Woods and the world.
Since the day after Thanksgiving (and even before), I’ve noticed an inverse relationship between Tiger and those who take an interest in his on- and off-course activities. Tiger is in scarce supply—consider him to be “X” on the graph, the horizontal axis. The media, fans, everybody are “Y,” the vertical axis, and have provided enough chatter to fill the solar system. As Tiger went into seclusion and said nothing, the world was compelled to say more and more and more—it’s the way inverse relationships work. Logic would dictate that more Tiger was needed to achieve some sort of equilibrium.
That’s where it breaks down, unfortunately. Here’s why. More Tiger hasn’t seemed to help. Even as he’s begun to say more—for example, his 13-minute public apology and Sunday’s dueling five-minute speed interviews—we appear to be no closer to any kind of equilibrium, and the world is still incessantly chattering away. (Thanks a lot, economics.)
Just to give it the old college try, one more graph.
For the longest time, people wanted Tiger to talk about his problems, to come clean. (More Tiger.) Now that he’s talking (at least some), it’s not doing a thing for many of those same people who wanted to hear from him. In fact, for them and others, the more he talks, the less he says. That, my friends, reminds me of the law of diminishing returns.
Tiger doesn’t want to talk. (We know this.) And when he talks, he doesn’t want to reveal much. (We know this.) Can anyone be surprised anymore?
By the way, Tiger also studied economics, at Stanford. I doubt that he could have ever imagined that his personal scarcity would create so much demand.
−The Armchair Golfer