The Passion of Tiger Woods: An Anthropologist Reports on Golf, Race, and Celebrity Scandal
Orin Starn is Professor and Chair of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of Nightwatch: The Politics of Protest in the Andes and a co-editor of The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics, both also published by Duke University Press. His most recent book is the award-winning Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s Last “Wild” Indian. An avid golfer with a five handicap, Starn has written about golf for the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers and provided commentary on ESPN and NPR. He blogs about golf at golfpolitics.blogspot.com and regularly teaches a course about sports and society.
Perhaps the best golfer ever, Tiger Woods rocketed to the top of a once whites-only sport. Endorsements made him a global brand and the world’s richest athlete. The child of a multiracial marriage, Woods and his blond, blue-eyed wife, Elin Nordegren, seemed to represent a new postracial America. Then, in late 2009, Woods became embroiled in a sex scandal that made headlines worldwide. In this concise yet far-reaching analysis, Orin Starn brings an anthropologist’s perspective to bear on Tigergate. He explores our modern media obsession with celebrity scandals and their tawdry ritualized drama, yet he offers much more than the usual banal moralizing about the rich and famous. Starn explains how Tiger’s travails and the culture of golf reflect broader American anxieties—about race and sex, scapegoating and betrayal, and the role of the sports hero. The Passion of Tiger Woods is required reading for all those interested in the high-stakes world of professional golf, the politics of sports and celebrity, and the myths and realities surrounding the flawed yet riveting figure who remains among the most famous athletes of our time.
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