The Numbers Don’t Lie: Tiger Is the Most Important Figure in Sports

300px-TigerWoodsOct2011I said it before the Masters, and I’ll definitely say it now: golf needs Tiger Woods more than Woods needs golf.

The ratings for the Masters back up my argument.  The final round earned a 7.8 rating Sunday afternoon (by the way, a 7.8 rating means that 7.8 percent of American households tuned into the Masters).  Keep in mind that final round included a highly likeable Bubba Watson winning his second Masters title in three years.

The ratings were down 24 percent from last year’s Masters finale, in which Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff.  That’s right, a playoff round in one of the most cherished golf major tournaments generated little interest in the viewing public.

Here’s more.  One of the highest ratings for the Masters in the last 10 years was Tiger’s last win in 2005, which got a 10.3 rating.

So the moral of the story is this: no Tiger (or Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy) in contention means low-ass ratings for golf tournaments.

Allow me to take this a step further.  Tiger is the only athlete in recent memory (the last 10 years) where sports fans – casual or otherwise – literally stop what they are doing to tune in to see him in action.  Ever since Tiger won the Masters in dominating fashion in 1997, he had single-handedly drove several new viewers to golf.  Hell, I never gave two damns about the sport until Tiger started dominating.

As his sponsorships grew to mammoth values (Nike, Titleist and Cadillac are among his biggest), so did tournament purses for his fellow golfers.  You think there were as many multimillionaires on the PGA tour before Tiger came along?  I didn’t think so.

Tiger’s dominance has also made him a transcendent athlete in all of sports.  He and his brand is recognized worldwide.  In my opinion Tiger is the second-most popular athlete in the world after Michael Jordan.

Love him, like him, loathe him, or hate him – y’all have to give Tiger his props.

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