Not being adversarial...But...How is he influential??? He is famous by the fact that he is widely publicized. What has he influenced other than the sport of golf. I haven't seen him advocating for any large causes, using his voice to increase awareness about any global social or political issues, doing and community service, he even admitted he isn't very religious and has to strengthen his relationship with the Church??? I've seen him play a game and advertise products.
I think there is a difference between popularity and influence. If we chose, as people, to make sports figures our heroes, then shame on us. He was not selling his character, morality to the people, he was selling his ability to play and win golf tournaments.
I think we tend to idolize the wrong people, which is why we get so upset and involved when they turn out to be hu-man. And you are right about MJ, I felt the same about him too...wrote a piece on it..."Realizing the Mortality of Men, Why the World Mourns So Deeply"
Not to get spiritual on this board..but if we idolized and defended God the way that we do men who make money and are promoted in the media, this world would be a better place.