Nike sticks by Tiger, but what other option do they have?

If you've ever played chess, you've probably been in this position. Late in the match, down to your last few pieces, and your opponent is on the attack. Eventually, it's a stalemate; your only move is to avoid checkmate. It's essentially a loss, but you don't call it that. You just don't have another place to go.

That is Nike Golf right now. A company that pushed in all their chips with Tiger Woods in 1996, is now worth $650 million, sponsors a ton of other pro golfers, and forced my uncle to buy a square driver much to my chagrin. They battle Titleist, Taylor Made and Cleveland Golf for market share on a daily basis, but now find themselves in a tough spot with the news of Tiger and his floozies.

Companies like Accenture and AT&T dropped Tiger, but Nike isn't in such a position. Tiger is their product. It would be like the Jumpman label losing Michael Jordan. It couldn't happen because Jordan made it.

"We've been supportive of Tiger since the story broke and we continue to be supportive," Nike brand president Charlie Denson said to the AP. "He's got issues he needs to deal with and he's dealing with them. We are looking forward to him getting back on the golf course."

Sure, that is the politically correct thing to say about the Tiger decision, but you can read between the lines. Translated, Denton says, "If there was a way to wiggle away from Tiger at this moment, we would, because our company is in the can right now because of the economy, but hopefully we can stay afloat long enough for people to forget about all this, go back to loving Tiger and buying those $30 hats again."

It is a tough time for Tiger and his family, but it can't be much easier for these companies that invested everything in something that turned out to be an illusion. Going back to the original theme, Tiger has forced all these companies to play without their queen, and unless you're really good, you might as well forfeit.

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