I cannot claim to be a Tiger Woods fan. I mean, I like him, but for what it is worth, I don't follow golf, and I don't play (at least anymore, and I have not for 35 years, but that is another story) it either. But, I also am ambivalent about Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretsky for the same reasons.
Certainly I recognize that all three of the troika above are, or, I guess were not only dominant in their relative sport, but players with a singular exceptional skill set that really redefined their sport. In baseball, as good as many players have been, only Babe Ruth really comes to mind as single-handedly rewriting everything.
In football, the other sport I follow, it is hard to think of players, although surely Brett Favre and Joes Namath and Montana could be included. But, I think more in terms of coaches like Paul Brown and Don Shula and Weeb Ewbank and Tom Landry as being the real innovators.
But, as usual, I digress.
I have sort of watched with amusement as sex revealed itself as Tiger's Aristotelean Tragic Flaw, and his resulting fall from grace since last Thanksgiving.
But, I am pretty much never shocked by our personal misdeeds. In a world with the beliefs that we share, where it is so easy to judge others while making excuses for our own transgressions, I tend to take the cynical approach espoused by Groucho Marx when he said he would not want to belong to a club that would have him for a member.
For, certainly it implies a lowering of standards in a funny self deprecating way, but, the idea also suggests a subtle air of superiority.
And so I have had a hard time with those so eager to jump on Tiger and his transgressions. To condemn his religious beliefs (in ignorance, I might add) as the source of his problems, for example, or to just be fascinated with Tiger's sexploits while simultaneously acting outraged at any form of transgression is just kind of two-faced to me.
My biggest issue with Tiger has been two fold. First, he was stupid. As in dumb and stupid for not realizing that eventually this would catch up with him. And, second, despite the temptation--and remember it was the great Oscar Wilde who said "I can resist anything except temptation--that Tiger did not realize his fans, let alone sponsors, let alone wife and family would not be at best disappointed in his behavior, and simply using that as a line in the sand suggest a lack of consciousness to me.
On the flip, I would be happy to guess that 80% of those criticizing Tiger's morality would not have such an easy time as they say extricating themselves from offers of pleasure from more beautiful women than one can imagine. And, well, let's face it, he is not only still a young man in many ways. At just 34, Tiger's life and exposure to public scrutiny is not that much different from say another guy who came into public scrutiny and disfavor, Michael Jackson.
In fairness neither of these guys led anything close to a normal childhood, let alone life, and while I am not trying to make excuses for either, the rules under which both grew into maturity were different from most of the rest of us, for better or worse. So, that adds another layer when judging, and one none of us can really appreciate.
That said, for some reason I watched Tiger's 14-minute talk (for it was not really a press conference) today, and, well, I totally respect what he did, and what he said.
For, he took responsibility for his actions, and for being the one who must correct the path of his life if he wishes to continue with success, let alone happiness.
Our culture is so anxious to expect this responsibility, save when they are involved (I get flushed when I think, for example, of the "party of personal responsibility" for as I see it, people who say this never taking any at all).
Of course, as noted above, there is indeed more than just saying the words: there following up on them, and in that instance, Tiger still has some work to do to regain his credibility. But, Tiger also took the toughest part seriously: he stood up in front of the world, alone, and said he did it and he will work to fix things.
I wish him well. I think he is halfway there.
By the way, I hate to take away from the sincerity and seriousness of Tiger's talk, but, did anyone notice when Tiger said he was concerned about being accused of using "performance enhancing" drugs? I had to chuckle, thinking, "hmmm, does he mean HGH or Viagra?"