United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. President Herbert Hoover. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Oprah. These names are among the many power players who have given commencement addresses to graduating seniors at Stanford.
And it is time to add one more name to that list–the most famous, successful living Stanford man: Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods. Yes, there was that whole thing last year when he slept with more women than you can shake a golf club at. But that, like most of his endorsements, is in the past. If you’re on the fence, here are a few reasons why Tiger Woods is the right choice for Stanford’s 2011 commencement speaker.
1. He’s the best at what he does
The objections to Tiger Woods as commencement speaker are many and obvious, but he offers something that many speakers cannot. Who among our past commencement speakers can honestly say they were the absolute best in their field? Are you telling me that Robert Pinsky was the best poet in the world? I think W.S. Merwin might want to have a word with you. Was Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury the world’s funniest cartoonist? Obviously these people have never read Rex Morgan, M.D.
Tiger Woods, on the other hand, was the world’s greatest golfer for nearly 12 years, and though he currently sits in second place (curse you, Lee Westwood), Woods will surely regain his top spot as soon as he starts dominating the golf world again.
2. He’s a Stanford man
In the past, it has been the case that the standards have been a little lower for letting Stanford graduates speak at these things. Let’s be honest, here. Would Monroe E. Spaght (me neither), have been allowed to give the 1966 commencement if he had gone to Texas A&M? Well, guess what, people: Tiger Woods is a product of Stanford University.
Though Tiger may not have graduated, he bleeds Cardinal red. He told a twitter follower that for Christmas he wanted Stanford in the national championship game, and credited a good round to wearing a Stanford shirt. His last public appearance before going into Kaczynski-like hiding was at the Big Game. And though his poster may no longer hang in the Treehouse (which: seriously?), we remain in his heart. Perhaps some of his past indiscretions can be forgiven on account of his undying loyalty to Stanford.
This is all liable to change, though, if it is revealed he was completing his degree with that whore, University of Phoenix.
3. Proper representation
For all the people who Stanford has had speak at commencement, not one of them has been affiliated with sports in any way. Considering how much pride Stanford takes in its athletics, surely honoring its greatest athlete ever (in your face, Adam Keefe!) would go a long way to embracing that heritage.
Compare Woods with 2001 speaker Carly Fiorina, the embattled Hewlett Packard CEO, and ask what the latter offers that the former does not. Lessons on hard work? Tiger Woods took golf and made it into a physical activity. Overcoming discrimination? Tiger Woods made his way in the lily-white world of professional golf, where he had to tolerate racial barbs from some dude named Fuzzy. Overcoming hardships? You know what’s more embarrassing than having a cavalcade of hoochies claim to have slept with you? Having them publicly release your texts about golden showers. Business acumen? Tiger Woods made a billion dollars playing golf, a sport nobody cares about, and kept his wife’s settlement to $110 million, which, considering he was pretty much completely at fault, is not too bad.
4. Star appeal
Let’s not pretend like we’re above bringing in a big name just because of the attention it will attract. Oprah Winfrey hosts a talk show that airs while people with jobs are working. Tiger Woods plays golf while people are napping–same thing, basically. There is nobody–nobody–who would bring the same amount of attention to Stanford’s 2011 commencement that Tiger Woods would.
Tiger has a unique perspective on things. He came to Stanford as a golf phenom, left as a blossoming superstar, rose to the top of his field, which he dominated to an unprecedented degree, suffered a humiliating downfall and now is trying to claw his way back to the top. I don’t doubt that in time, Stanford will once again welcome Tiger Woods back. But why not now, when he is at his most downtrodden? We can show the world that Stanford will stand by its man, even when things are at their worst. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Fundamental Standard somewhere.
So, do what you have to do to make this happen. Write petitions. Start a Facebook group. Those things have to be good for something.