As prodigal golfer Tiger Woods resumes the world's No. 1 ranking, his chief sponsor, Nike, unveiled a slogan Tuesday that provokes robust debate on what is redemption and has Woods attained it.
"Winning takes care of everything" is what Nike declared on its social media outlets after Woods completed his long climb back to the top ranking, more than three years after his extramarital affairs ruined his marriage and embarrassed him. Woods and ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, have two children.
Many fans and consumers are now raging against the new campaign by Nike, which stood by Woods in his fall from grace as most other sponsors dumped him.
"Will not buy anything Nike again," wrote Melissa Santa-Cruz of Wisconsin on Nike's Facebook page.
"THIS AD MAKES ME SICK!" wrote Julie Drake, a high school teacher who said she will use the ad for a classroom discussion. "Shame on you!"
Others, however, endorsed the slogan.
"Love your Ad Nike," wrote Brian Edwards. "Keep up the good work."
The passionate opinions roil during a week when redemption is on the minds of Jews celebrating Passover and Christians preparing for Easter.
The controversy grows from whether winning indeed absolves transgressions -- and even prompts a return to grace. The narrative plays out in different ways for different public figures.
"I think that winning, especially in Tiger Woods' case, really does change things because it reminds people why they fell in love with him years ago. It was for his game and his ability to consistently make those tough shots over and over again. That's why we're in awe of Tiger," said CEO Melinda Travis of PRO Sports Communications, a strategic communications and crisis management firm in Los Angeles.
"Does it erase what he's done? No. But when is it enough?" Travis said. "It's easy to criticize from afar, but when you sit across from someone who's experienced public humiliation and a fall from grace and, in Tiger's case, a breakup of an entire family and a permanent change in the way people view him, that's a pretty high price to pay."
The slogan refers to how Woods has motivated himself to become the top golfer again, Nike said. He last held that rank in October 2010.
"Tiger has always said he competes to win," Nike said in a statement. "When asked about his goals such as getting back to number one, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there. The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance."
In professional sports, winning can indeed overshadow a lot of quandaries, said sports analyst LZ Granderson, a CNN contributor.
For example, a winning coach won't be fired for players accused of sexual assault or facing too many DUIs, he said.
"Usually a coach is fired because they're not winning," Granderson said. "So it may make me cringe as a parent, I can't help but think of the fact that winning does seem to solve a lot of problems, and if you're losing, that's when everything else is more highlighted."