Which active athlete is the biggest celebrity in sports?

May 30, 2011

Tiger transcendent

Ron Fritz

Baltimore Sun

Although he has plummeted in the world golf rankings, Tiger Woods still soars on the buzz-meter, and he's still the biggest celebrity in sports. I'm sure worldwide, folks will argue that soccer stars are the biggest celebrities, and David Beckham is certainly more celebrity than soccer player these days. In New York, Yankees fans will point to Derek Jeter as a big-time celebrity. But no one transcends sports like Woods.

Now that he's single and dating, his celebrity will only increase. If Woods starts playing decent golf and winning again, that will only give his stardom a bigger boost. It will certainly give the game of golf a big push, one it desperately needs.

Here's hoping that he can overcome his injuries to rediscover his golf game. A winning Tiger makes the sport that much more interesting, both on and off the course.


Still getting attention

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

While his popularity and success have been in sharp decline, there's no question Tiger Woods remains sports' biggest celebrity. As anyone who has ever scanned the cover of tabloids in the grocery store line can attest, a public persona does not have to be well-liked to be big-time.

Woods is still the main reason most people watch golf. His off-the-course affairs and family drama have placed an even more searing spotlight on him than when he was the world's top golfer.

He has fallen out of golf's top 10 for the first time in 14 years and hasn't won since November 2009. That won't stop spectators from watching to see whether he will make a comeback or suffer a final collapse.


He's an Indy winner

Diane Pucin

Los Angeles Times

Three years ago this would have been an overwhelming choice to make. Tiger Woods or Roger Federer? Derek Jeter and his starlet date of the day or Alex Rodriguez and his?

Comeback elders Lance Armstrong or Brett Favre? Serena Williams with her dominance on the tennis court and sparkle off the court? Kobe Bryant mattered outside of Los Angeles.

Now? Not so easy. Armstrong and Favre are retired and marred by non-sport scandals. Jeter and A-Rod? Still dating starlets but not so good on the field. Federer is No. 3, not No. 1. Can Tiger still be a major celebrity if he is limping off the course and never winning? Until Serena plays again, not so many people care.

So here's the choice. LeBron James or Peyton Manning. On the basis of his television commercials and "Saturday Night Live" gems, I'll go with Manning. For now. If James wins an NBA championship next month? That could change.


Woods has no equal

Joseph Moskowitz

The Morning Call

Kobe or LeBron? Manning or Brady? Federer or Nadal? Tiger or …?

Tiger Woods is still without equal in golf. And whether it is for marriage-ending scandals or winning Grand Slam events on one leg, his name remains on the tongue of all sports enthusiasts and disgruntled wives alike. Even though he has not won a tournament since 2009, Woods recently was named No. 6 on the Forbes Magazine list of the 100 most powerful celebrities, the highest ranking of any athlete.

While others such as Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson have taken advantage of Woods' absence, none has a trophy case as full as Tiger's. And unless the Golden Bear comes out of hibernation and magically is 40 years younger, Woods' star still is the brightest — for good or for bad.


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