Friday, December 4, 2009

Woods Not Perfect...Just Human

Let me start off with a shocker. I’m a golfer and a huge golf fan, but I’ve never been a big Tiger Woods fan.

Sure, it’s hard not to root for the guy every once in a while, but there has just always been something about Tiger, especially the last few years, that I have not found enjoyable about the way he plays the game. I never have considered him a paragon of character or someone I would wish my future son or daughter might grow up to be like.

I would want the child to be successful, but I would not my kids to act the way Tiger does on camera on the course. He’s been known to toss golf clubs, curse in disgust, and treat the press and fans with a certain aloofness that I find concerning for someone of his caliber. In short, I’m probably one of the very few golf nuts that while not rooting against him doesn’t necessarily root for him all the time.

I save that for Phil Mickelson. I won’t lie…I’m a Phil guy. Who else could snap hook a drive into a sponsor tent to lose the U.S. Open and handle it with grace? Phil never tosses clubs or is heard dropping curse words on the course. If you gave me a choice of someone to emulate on the golf course by the way they act in battle, I’m choosing Phil.

Those things said, I want to salute Tiger for coming clean and showing character by taking responsibility for his actions after the recent revelations that he had been unfaithful to his marital vows. My late father always taught me that honesty is the most important attribute someone can have. Often, in politics and in the entertainment world, we deal with the direct opposite. Someone tells a lie or stretches the truth, and the people are left holding the bag.

In this case, Tiger didn’t have to say a word. TMZ and other media sources could have dealt with the more salacious side of this, but Tiger could have remained quiet. Instead, given the mounting evidence, Tiger decided to own the problem and be honest about his personal failings. As Chris Matthews wrote in Hardball, Woods is “hanging a lantern on his problem.” He decided to attack the beast head on and apologize to his fans and to the many that look up to him. That showed a type of character I haven’t seen from Tiger on the golf course.

Now, as his many sponsors such as Nike and Gatorade decide what they will do with one of their chief pitchmen’s reputation now in the trash, Tiger can concentrate on setting things right in his personal life. I’m sure there will likely be more revelations about indiscretions, but Tiger came clean that he is not perfect. Suddenly, I like Tiger more.

I think the reason I didn’t like Tiger as much as Phil was that Phil appeared to be more human. I saw Tiger as the robot, the machine, the superhero. The formerly frumpy Mickelson (only now buffing out), to me, is an everyman…a character actor more than a silver screen idol, the smiling-through-the-pain class act. We saw a bit of Phil’s character this past year when his wife and his mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer within a few weeks of each other. Phil has always been human, and I’m now realizing that Tiger is, too. Tiger has been knocked down a couple of pegs by his own admission and own actions.

Of course, I do not condone any of Tiger’s personal indiscretions. What he did was wrong when it comes to his family, and those folks are ultimately the people that he answers to on a daily basis, not his fans. They are the ones that he will now have to make things right with, and it won’t be us. He needs to put his life back together, and he doesn’t need TMZ or ESPN to watch his every move doing it.

Yes, I get it. The tabloid media only gives us what we want, but I think we’re the problem sometimes. If we hold up a mirror, would it show us that we root for those perfect ones to fall? While I didn’t always root for Tiger on the course, I hate to see this entire situation unfold. Now, it seems unavoidable, but I guess does our want not need to know really outweigh a public figure’s right to work this out with his family?

I don’t think it does in this case. Tiger is not the governor of a state or a legislator or a judge. His actions are personal ones, so I wish that the reports and the money being made off Tiger’s stupid decision to cheat on his wife, Elin, would stop. I know it won’t though, and I’m sure that there will be more money made off this sad domestic train wreck.

Doesn’t it just feel a little dirty though? It feels like to me that I’m looking deep into Tiger’s clothes hamper and pulling out the dirtiest of the dirty laundry when I watch this stuff. Yuck.

So, I look forward to the day that I see Tiger the machine dominate the world of golf again. He is still the greatest golfer in the world, and he has my respect for that. I just hope that Tiger the machine internalizes this mess, learns his lesson, and continues bringing joy to golf fans for his play on course instead of his escapades off it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tiger is a great golfer. I thought I was the only one who was turned off by his crass and uncontrolled behavior on the course. He is a crybaby when he does not do well. That is not good for someone who wants to be a role model.