Sports stars hold a special place in the heart of America. Whether they're playing American football, baseball, basketball, hockey, cycling, or golf, the men and women of these sports are modern day heroes for many; They stand tall and proud and powerful, the Herculeses and Odysseuses of our time.
Every now and then though, one of these mighty demigods will fall into scandal of some kind. Unlike the ancient days, we don't revere our modern heroes for their weaknesses. Most often it's drugs, sometimes murder and manslaughter, and still other times it's for being a hounddog like Tiger Woods. The latest game to bear his name, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, is due to be released soon and has some people wondering if Tiger is still marketable.
A long list of infidelities and affairs (A list which could give former President Bill Clinton a run for his money) coming to light threw a serious loop into Tiger's career; He lost form on the green and ended up taking a break from golfing, sponsors suddenly found him very unappealing and either dropped or suspended campaigns featuring him, and his marriage collapsed like a flan in a cupboard. One would think that would've been it for him, the great crashing end to his career. Not so. America is very forgiving of it's heroes, and all Tiger has had to do is hang in there and weather the storm, then make a comeback in the sport and all will be forgiven and forgotten. It's happening already, and it's not the first time this has happened.
The tidal wave of hate and outrage that erupted when Michael Vick was arrested for running an interstate dog fighting ring was, to say the least, intense. Most people could overlook the other shenanigans Vick has garnered minor attention for, but this crossed the line. Vick spent two months in jail and another two under house arrest, was was released from his contract with the Falcons.The loss of his contract as well as product endorsements and financial mismanagement left Vick bankrupt, and he filed for Chapter 11 protections in July 2008. It seemed like justice had been served, and that Michael Vick would be remembered by all as the slime bag who made dogs fight to the death for kicks until the day he died. Looking at Michael Vick today though you wouldn't think anything had happened. The man who just four years ago was untouchable has come out smelling of roses. And that whole dog fighting crime? Doesn't seem to get remembered that much anymore.
Lance Armstrong is weathering his own storm right now. After years of denying it and denying it Armstrong finally confessed that he had done enough steroids during his cycling career to make a Soprano sound like a Bass. Unlike the others on this list though Armstrong had milked his career for just about all it was worth, having retired once in 2005 after seven consecutive Tour de France victories before trying to make a comeback in 2009. The scandal is still very fresh, and right now things aren't looking good for Armstrong's long term plans, but then again people said the same about every other big name in this article. Unless one is in baseball though drug scandals tend to hit hard, and Armstrong has already retired yet again from the sport that made him famous. He his levees are strong though, and between the charitable work he does and the fact that the story will shortly get boring he'll survive the bad PR storm with little difficulty.
This isn't limited to the world of sports however. In early 2009, R&B singer Chris Brown turned his then-girlfriend Rihanna's face into a punching bag before turning himself in for it. He turned himself in for the act and once word got out his stock seemed to drop faster than the economy. Commercials staring him were dropped, his songs were pulled from radio stations, and Brown withdrew from many public appearances. Things seemed even bleaker for Brown as he faced down a felony assault charge, but just like with Michael Vick the market bounced back. Brown accepted a plea deal, getting community service and five years formal probation in exchange for pleading guilty to the felony charge. Overall the beating he gave to Rihanna and the trial did little damage to his music and acting career, despite the fact that reports have risen that Brown skipped out on the community service he was supposed to do. As of January 2013, Rihanna has confirmed that she and Brown are again in a relationship. Make of that what you will.
Tiger's name took a harsh blow after his affairs came to light. He is slowly rebuilding it though, and soon enough he will join a hallowed list of sports stars and celebrities who are all either junkies, philanderers, woman beaters, or cheaters. His story will continue to expound the lesson that much of reality and pop culture seem to endorse: People won't care in a few years if you make a good enough comeback or drop off the radar.