"You know, we really have something special here. Let’s not ruin it for the game, because the game is bigger than Tiger or anyone else in it.
Athletes and celebrities are human beings. They are going to have arguments with their wives or girlfriends. They are going to make mistakes in judgment. "In our society, we tend to build our athletes up, ostensibly just so we can tear them down. This is stupid. One day he is the greatest hero in the world for winning the Masters by a record-shattering 12 strokes, and the next day he is target practice"
---Earl Woods, Playing Through
I told myself I wouldn’t write about the Tiger Woods saga until a legitimate news source reported the news. He had earned that much at least. You can call me a cranky old man but I don’t consider TMZ or The National Enquirer as legitimate sources. With the release of Woods’ apology earlier today we can assume that the basic nature of the story, if not the sordid details, are true.
It appears the greatest golfer of this generation, perhaps the greatest golfer of any generation, was not faithful to the institute of marriage.
Am I outraged? No.
Am I going to stop watching golf? Much to the dismay of my better half - no.
Am I going to boycott Nike, Gillette, EA Sports, Rolex, American Express, etc? No.
Am I shocked? A little bit.
I’m not shocked that Tiger cheated on his wife, I’m shocked that a news story finally penetrated the fortress of silence that is Woods’ personal life. Until he wrapped his fender around a fire hydrant the negative stories about the world’s best golfer were limited to:
1. He swears on the course.
2. His caddy broke things like cell phones.
3. He chased women and told dirty jokes when he was 21 years old.
4. He didn’t like to lose.
So he was basically a guy.
Now it seems he was a guy with a rather healthy libido. He didn’t rob a bank or buy alcohol for minors. He didn’t call the Pope a fraud. He didn’t say that Hitler was misunderstood. He cheated on his wife. I’m not saying that cheating on your wife is ok, I’m saying it’s not worth the amount of outrage that we’re seeing on T.V. and on the internet.
When you’re the greatest in the world at anything - golf, baseball, debating, blogging, roshambo, whatever - you’re going to have a bit of an ego. You’re going to think you can get away with anything because, for most of your life you’ve been able to get away with everything.
That’s as deep as you need to get into the psychology of Tiger Woods. There’s no need to discuss that this was because of a “lost childhood” or that this was the desperate cry for attention from a socially awkward adult. He did because he thought he could get away with it.
Tiger Woods isn’t a saint, he isn’t a priest, he isn’t a politician or a community leader. So why should we think he is any better than Billy Joe down in the trailer park when it comes to relationships. Human’s are flawed, humans are weak. If we weren’t McDonalds wouldn’t be a billion dollar franchise and the need for lawyers would be limited to, well probably nothing.
Why we as a society any more shocked that an athlete or celebrity fails at a marriage then when one of our friend’s get a divorce? Just because they are famous? It’s hard to keep a relationship going even if you have Swedish good looks and millions in the bank.
I might argue that it’s harder when you’re famous. Us normal folk go through the trials and tribulations in realitive obscurity. If my girlfriend yells at me because I’m a lazy bastard who has never finished a housing project then I’m not going to have to read about online for the next two weeks. Through in constant travel, lots of free time and no one telling you “no” and it’s kind of amazing that all celebrity marriages don’t end in divorce.
Has anyone ever called Woods a moral role model in the first place? Does anyone know his stance on the war, poverty, abortion, gay marriage, the Irish Problem or Team Edward vs. Team Jacob? For all we know he believes in an open marriage. He and Elin could be swingers (insert your own golf joke or busted window joke here).
The point is that Tiger hasn’t set himself up to be a moral guidepost for the nation so he is going to be alright when this over. Now if this story was about someone along the lines of Tim Tebow, Kurt Warner or AC Green I would have much more outrage.
If Curt Schilling was caught fooling around (oh why God wasn’t it Curt Schilling!!!) this essay would have a much angrier tone. Simply because when an athlete or entertainer uses his fame to espouse his lifestyle choice they set themselves up for ridicule.
Tiger is playing his cards right on this one. He issued his apology and he’s keeping his trap shut as all of the allegations are unleashed. I’m sure he (or his PR team) knows that in a week or two this will blow over. That’s the beauty of the society we live in - there’s always someone else waiting to screw up right around the corner.
Anyone still outraged at Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rick Pitino, Mike Vick, or Michael Phelps? At the time of their infractions the talking heads of the sporting world would have made you believe that Armageddon was right around the corner. THEY HAD SULLIED THE GOOD NAME OF SPORT! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Now Tiger is going to have to endure his 15 days of torment. The media that has spent the past twelve years building him up to near mythical status will have their run at tearing him down. Is it fair? Of course not. Part of it is Tiger’s fault for being so private. If he had been a little less guarded with the press, if other flaws had been exposed earlier might the reaction now not been so drastic? Probably. After all, when was the last time a writer was outraged at a John Daly divorce.
If he struggles next year the pressure will be on. His father supposedly said that the only thing that could prevent Tiger from reaching greatness was a woman. Maybe, this will begin a downward spiral that results in Tiger putting on forty pounds and hanging out at driving ranges and betting people he can out drive them.
However, I don’t think Tiger is wired that way. If anything this might spark a “world is against me” revenge tour. If that happens all of this becomes a humorous Chris Farley Show-esque skit.
“Hey remember when Tiger was caught cheating on his wife?”
“Remember when she shattered the window with a golf club and he ran over a fire hydrant?”
“That was awesome!”
Isn’t it odd that all of the great ones have some flaw? Michael Jordan and gambling, Kobe Bryant and his alleged relationships with women, Mickey Mantle and his drinking, The Rock and his horrible family oriented movies. Is there something that makes athletes great that also exposes some sort social defect?
Tiger has risen to fascinating heights by being one of the most focused athletes in the world. Keeping his personal life private has been a key factor in maintaining that focus. Now that he will be spending a year fending off the sporting press and the tabloid press will he remain the same player?
Only time will tell.