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Wrapping up Tiger: What did we all learn from this?

As T

iger Woods plays in the Quail Hollow this week, the first non-major since his troubles began, we're finally reaching a natural closing point to this saga. So let's take a look at some of the major questions that still surround Tiger and the golf world. Today: What did we all learn?

So after five months of Tiger Woods scandal and insanity, do you feel any wiser? Dirtier, seedier, scrungier, perhaps, but wiser?

Maybe. But if you do, you're one of the few.

The Woods story in itself wasn't anything we could learn from -- well, except for, "don't trust porn stars, strippers and Perkins waitresses to keep secrets," but most of us didn't need to be told that. No, where the Woods story had true educational potential was in demonstrating a few uncomfortable truths, to wit:

The degree to which we worship our athletic idols
The way race worms its way into every public conversation
The obsession with "image" over substance in athletics
The role of the media: shaping perception or giving the people what they want?
The privacy of our public figures -- how much should they have?

Now, all of those topics sound insanely dull, like panel discussions at some airport-hotel academic conference. But these are some of the major themes of the Tiger story, stuff that has to be processed and percolate for awhile before we can really write about it. There will be books coming out about this, some good and some awful, and hopefully they'll deal with at least some of these issues at greater length than we've been able to in a 24-hour news cycle.

So what did we all learn? Well, Tiger learned who he could and couldn't trust. Tiger also hopefully learned to look beyond the moment, but with Tiger, who the heck knows what he learned? His sponsors learned that even the most pristine pitchman can make your brand look ridiculous. The PGA, as we discussed on Wednesday, learned nothing.

The media learned that readers absolutely devour every morsel of Tiger news, no matter how much they claim to be outraged or tired of it. Take a look at this site -- the Tiger posts have hundreds of comments from people loudly proclaiming how sick they are of this story and how they want us to get back to writing about golf -- but the real-golf posts have relatively few comments. You can only visit our site so many times to tell us how much you hate the Tiger story before we start to suspect that maybe you kinda like it.

Am I sick of writing about non-golf Tiger stories? Of course I am. Did we perhaps go over the top in our Tiger coverage? Well, there are outlets that make us look positively restrained. But we also recognize that it's clear you want to read about Woods. Who are we to deny you what you're seeking, huh?

And what about fans? What did they learn? Well, quite a few learned to love something other than golf. Ratings are down all over the place. And everybody learned a bunch of "new" jokes. But, as with the PGA Tour, we've all just been waiting for Tiger to get back on the course.

So, how about you? Learn anything from all this?

The "Wrapping Up Tiger" series:

• Monday: How ready is a non-Augusta tournament to host Tiger Woods?
• Tuesday: How can Tiger Woods continue to repair his image?
• Wednesday: How will the Tiger Woods story change the world of golf?
• Today: What did everybody learn from the Tiger Woods saga?
• Friday: What will be the long-term effects of Tiger's story?

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