Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on us and Mr. Woods . . .

It's hard not to think about Tiger Woods these days.

If you're interested in professional sports (I am), there he is; if you're interested in business (I am), there he is; if you're at all attracted by scandal (I hope I'm not, but am afraid I might be, at least a little bit), there he is.

The man is incontrovertibly a great athlete who has incontrovertibly not been leading a conventional personal life.  And I think our outrage comes, in part, from the fact that he appeared to do just that. In this, he reminds me of Bill Clinton. Why the pretense of monogamy, I want to know?

But then, in Mr. Woods' case, maybe the pretense is mostly our own projection of pretense. Beyond the public fumblings of the last couple of weeks, I don't remember Mr. Woods talking much about his private life.

We Americans so want our heroes, our role models, our leaders, to be bound within conventional morality. In this country, founded by Puritans, fueled by Conservative Christianity, there's nothing that knocks a glitterati off his/her public pedestal faster than getting married and then playing around.

I feel great pity for all of us in regards to Tiger Woods. I feel sorry for myself, because I won't get to watch him play golf next year. I feel sorry for the sport, because its TV ratings will tank. I feel sorry for anyone who feels the right to judge another human being's behavior--even to waste energy being outraged about it, for Pete's sake! I feel sorry for Mr. Woods, because being the greatest golfer ever isn't enough. And I most of all feel sorry for most Americans in that we cannot seem to allow famous people any privacy, which means there's something sad going on among us.

As to what I feel about Tiger Woods as a husband and father? I feel sorry that any human being has to go through what he's going through--and by this I mean having your private life seen by the public as its property. But other than that I don't  feel anything about his behavior as a husband and father, because I don't know anything.

What I do know is that every marriage sets its own rules, and that just because someone's rules are different from mine does not automatically make them evil or even immoral. Marriages need to work for the people involved, not for me. I do not know, or care to know, anything at all about anyone else's marriage rules other than my own.

And that includes Tiger Woods.

Tomorrow, if nothing else crops up to write about, I'm going to write some thoughts on another great athlete: Ralph Sampson.


  1. It was on NPR that I heard that Tiger Woods was one of those athletes who doesn't enjoy his sport, i.e., playing golf -- he's always been tied up in the success and stardom. A few quotes were rattled off in support of the idea that he has always been goal oriented at the expense of being able to enjoy playing golf. This made me sad -- he's another great who was pushed by a parent to be so, and he never found his own purpose or identity in the process. Of course, as you say, none of us can really know his story, but this rang true to me. I'm not a golf fan at all (never watch it in fact), but I have seen the many images of our hero, Tiger, over the years, and it has always struck me that he looked miserable. That big wide smile never did anything for me. It never persuaded me. And he's not a warm and fuzzy type of person at all. He doesn't like to talk, or be personable, it seems to me.

    All this is in contrast to someone like Federer, whose love of the sport is so utterly apparent in every fiber of his being.

  2. I feel sorry for Mrs. Woods. Think of all the things going through her mind:

    Do I have a Sexually Transmitted Disease because of Tiger?

    Will he really be faithful to me if I stay with him?

    How will leaving him affect the kids? How will staying with him affect the kids!?

    How could he have done this to me?

    Not just one woman but so many? Can he ever really overcome this addiction?