Barbara Walters’ comments regarding Tiger Woods situation worth noting

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity for the first time in quite awhile to watch David Letterman – the benefit of being a streak writer in that I was up at 3:00 AM and therefore caught the west coast telecast.

As always Letterman was graciously facetious, especially when talking with Barbara Walters about Sarah Palin who had cracked the 2009 list of Walters’ 10 most fascinating people.

The Palin commentary aside, what stood out for me was Walters’ response to Letterman’s query regarding the Tiger Woods situation and the possible impact on his image.  Relating the story that he had always directed his young son’s attention to Woods’ accomplishments whenever the champion appeared on television, suggesting Woods’ obvious status as a role model, Walters made the statement that “athletes are not role models.”

Perhaps given the venue, and what is obviously a warm and longstanding relationship between he and his guest, Letterman failed to delve further into Walters’ comment for clarification as to what she meant.  I of course am interested in understanding the thinking behind her comment.

For example, was it a general statement in which she is suggesting that the public places too much emphasis on the on-field/off-field exploits of athletes when there are others who are more worthy of our attention?

Perhaps it was a reflection of her personal disenchantment with what is admittedly at times the somewhat childish behavior of spoiled brat millionaire athletes whose actions have finally tarnished beyond redemption, the image of the sports icon as a viable role model?

While lauding the proactive response of Letterman in terms of his getting out in front of the story regarding his own escapades, Walters expressed the opinion that Woods’ time had passed in terms of his speaking publicly regarding his recent tribulations.  This might lead one to think that it is not in the fallibility of our human nature and the resulting actions that diminishes ones brand, but is instead an inability to stand up and take personal responsibility?

Regardless of the reasons for her comment, in this emerging world of social media in which one’s “personal brand” is becoming increasingly important, one thing is certain . . . our name is our calling card within our own sphere of influence.  Or as branding expert and PR genius Marsha Friedman put it, to a certain degree we are all celebrities within the world in which we live and work.

At the end of the day, whether intentional or otherwise, this may be the very point of the Walters comment regarding the fact that athletes are not role models.  Specifically, instead of looking to others as the source of motivation and responsibility for setting a good example, we should focus on own efforts to be a positive force for those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts?

One Response to “Barbara Walters’ comments regarding Tiger Woods situation worth noting”
  1. Jim Bouchard says:

    We’re talking a lot about “branding” lately and I’m no exception. Branding is probably the most crucial component to success in the information age.

    Having said that, the ancient martial arts philosophers had another word for what we call “branding.” They called it “character.”

    The basis of every brand should be character. Build your reputation on a foundation of solid ethical values and your brand will be meaningful and lasting.

    The problem with the Tiger Woods and Letterman brands is that each of these men seemed to trade on a brand that was not reflective of their true character; at least in the moment.

    Both Woods and Lettermen are private citizens. They’ve got to take their lumps because they’ve traded in public trust to make their livings. Having said that, they’re not elected official and they don’t work directly for us. Neither man has broken any laws as far as we can see and they pose no physical threat to themselves or their families.

    Their private business is their business.

    If they wanted their brands to be private, they should have given more thought to their character and how they expressed that character through action.

    Now I’ll be the last to throw any rocks at any glass houses; but this should be a lesson to any of us as we build our brands. You can’t build a brand on trust when your character is not trustworthy.

    Meanwhile; just in case…I’m making sure my wife has no access to golf clubs!

    Think Like a Black Belt!
    Jim Bouchard

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