You might have heard that Tiger Woods held a press conference on Monday. He answered a lot of questions, most of them with a forthright honesty that wasn't in evidence in his other public appearances since that November night that changed him from world's most admired man to global punchline.
You shouldn't expect to hear any more about it during CBS's coverage of the Masters. CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Monday that the network will discuss Woods's off-course issues "as it pertains to the tournament," but history says that they have a very narrow definition of what pertains to the tournament.
In 2003, CBS ignored the fact that Augusta National was being picketed by the National Organization of Women, something that certainly pertained to the tournament. It didn't pertain to the parts of the tournament that interested CBS, however, and, therefore, it didn't exist.
If Woods plays poorly, there will likely be allusions to his off-course issues. You'll hear generalities about difficult comebacks and euphemisms like "trouble regaining focus after a layoff," but you aren't going to hear Jim Nantz opine on whether or not spending time in rehab affects your preparation. How do we know this? Nantz said as much.
"I’m not there to host 'Face the Nation.' I’ll talk about Tiger when he plays golf. I’m there to cover a golf tournament."
This is absurd, and the reason it's absurd is because we're talking about Jim Nantz, and Jim Nantz never just talks about the game in front of him.
This week, he's going to go off on tangents about how sacred Augusta National is and what a special place it holds in our sporting landscape. He's going to wax poetic about varous bits of treacle while someone plunks ersatz piano keys in the background. And he's going to talk about this player's courage in coming back from injury or that player's devotion to some cause or another.
We know this because he does it every year, and not only in golf. We've seen too many shots of the Manning family watching from a luxury box during Colts games to count and this year's Super Bowl broadcast certainly wasn't shy about joining the "Drew Brees saves New Orleans" bandwagon. Usually, these little diversions seem to delight Nantz to no end.
Indeed, Nantz's quote distancing himself from off-the-links happenings was still fresh during Monday night's NCAA Championship game when he spent time pointing out camera shots of wives and family members and recounted a phone call Andy Roddick made to Gordon Hayward of Butler. Nantz even used a free throw attempt as a launching pad for a discussion of another Butler player's foundation.
Maybe he isn't there to host "Face the Nation," but Nantz regularly acts like he's hosting a very special episode of "Oprah" in the middle of an athletic event.
It's actually a bit surprising that Nantz isn't more interested in covering Tiger. He loves to talk about the integrity and honor of golf, you'd think he'd be happy to stick a pin into a man who apparently faked so much of his life. And you'd especially think he'd have no problem veering from club selection after spending years giving voice to paeans to Woods and his father and doing things the right way.
You don't want chocolate in your peanut butter or sex in your golf? Fair enough. If Nantz and reporters like him would stop injecting treacle into sporting event generally, then they wouldn't need to contort themselves to avoid talking about porn stars now.