EA "moves forward" with online Tiger Woods game

Publishing giant Electronic Arts sticks by Tiger Woods, says relationship with Tiger 'has always been rooted in golf'.

Game publishing giant EA says it'll stick with celebrity licensee Tiger Woods despite recent public scandals. That's the word from EA Spots prez Peter Moore, who blogs that the company was moving forward with its online version of the eponymous video game franchise for PC and Mac set to launch later this month.

Question is, why wouldn't they?

Ask yourself this. Have past EA-based Tiger Woods games involved the golf force-of-nature's personal life? And does the current tabloid orgy about whatever went down between him and his wife have anything--read: anything whatsoever--to do with his professional abilities?

If you answered yes to either, do us all a favor: Find the nearest mental health facility and check yourself in--indefinitely.

In the meantime, let's applaud EA's decision to do what fair-weather sponsors like Accenture, Tag Heuer, Gilette, and AT&T wouldn't: Separate the incidentals from the essentials.

"For the past month, we have watched the Tiger Woods story play itself out while several of his sponsors have stepped away from the golfer," writes EA's Mooore. "At EA SPORTS, we've been particularly attentive because for the past year, we have been in full development of a new and highly innovative, online golf game. The game has been in closed beta for eight months, with more than 75,000 people playing and participating."

Moore acknowledges the decision may turn heads and create "further speculation about [Woods'] relationship with sponsors," and offers the following straightforward rationale for EA's decision to hold steady:

Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world's best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come.

By his own admission, he's made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what's happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history. At EA SPORTS, we make authentic sports simulations

Hats off to Moore for disclosing as much, leveling with fans and potential subscribers, but most of all, for staying out of a childish kerfuffle that's frankly no one's business but Woods'.

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Matt Peckham

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