One of the most recent scandals hitting the AP wire and top Google hits has been the unfolding saga of the fall from grace of one our sports demigods. There will always be controversy over what we should or shouldn’t know, or whether we should or shouldn’t pass judgment on morals with regard to sports figures and politicians. Can we compartmentalize talent, artistry and fame so that they don’t become eclipsed by those pesky interferences like morals and character?
The only thing we can do when drama like this is plastered across news pages is to ask ourselves what we can learn from it. The most obvious and immediate lesson would be to stop assuming a public figure who has reached a certain pinnacle of success will automatically assume a stellar example of behavior. Also, when we idolize or respect a figure do we hold them to high standards in some areas but not even basic ones when it comes to human interaction (OJ Simpson, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen? ) Must we admire them as a whole person? Maybe we could just turn a blind eye to certain unsavory characteristics about them since that would make them too human and therefore jeopardize the image we’ve created in our minds.
It is quickly becoming clear, not only to Tiger’s fans but to his corporate sponsors that they’ve decided they can’t swallow the whole pill. If Tiger were not married and these women came forth, it would not be a problem. Some make arguments that those in positions of power will often abuse it by exploiting every opportunity available to them, and justify their promiscuous behavior as a perk of their success. Whether one chooses that path or not is not for someone else to judge. The problem comes when the exploitations of power cause pain and public humiliation to others – for starters, his wife who heads the top of the list. One of the lessons from this scandal could be that the truth always comes out. If one is trapped in the public eye it is inevitable; and even if one isn’t, consequences will always follow missteps to some degree. The media initially portrayed his wife Elin as the woman-scorned psycho with the golf club. I just can’t get enough. Most of the time, when the label “psycho'” is used on a woman, it has little if anything to do with the woman. The man who goes on about his “psycho ex-girlfriends” should raise an immediate red flag. “Well what did you do to her to elicit this ‘psycho’ reaction?” is always what I want to ask. But I digress.
In the days that followed, Tiger came forth with the following statement.
“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves.”
I am sure he is regretting those transgressions. Does he regret them and find himself sincerely contrite about the pain it has caused countless individuals, or does he regret that he was caught having to take a hit to both his wallet and image? And what is our responsibility in this for making him a demigod in our minds? If we are so disappointed by his behavior, maybe that’s a sign that we actually do care about character and that superhuman talent or charisma should not grant instant immunity to indiscretions. Maybe we react so strongly because his behavior reminds us of things in ourselves we don’t like or are ashamed of. Are we responsible for blindly elevating him to messianic status because he was really good at hitting a ball? Now that he has shown he is human and flawed, maybe we’re a little embarrassed and angry that we’ve been “played.” “Hey, wait a minute….you’re not the real Tiger Woods. You can’t be.” Is he responsible for buying into the hype that he believes should buy him a Get Out of Trouble Free card? The fact that he knew what he was doing was wrong (as evidenced in the voicemail) and worked overtime to cover his tracks after sneaking around implies both entitlement and a pretty convincing lack of remorse.
“Hey, it’s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.”
“So if you can, please take your name off that. Just have it as a number … on the voicemail. You gotta do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye.”
Judging by the backlash, a certain integrity does matter and it makes no difference whether you’re seen in the public eye or you’re my neighbour down the street.
The other pointed lesson we can learn from this is that negative actions in one area of our life will always reap consequences – and they may not always seem directly related. In this instance, Tiger has made a mockery of his marriage by taking a big dump on it. We’re not talking an ‘oops’ and crawling back to his wife in tears on bended knee, we’re talking flagrant and repeated philandering that was seldom, if ever, interrupted by conscience. Let’s say that no one ever found out about his indiscretions. I’m of the firm belief that he would have paid for those in other areas of his life somehow at some time. The universe is a meticulous accountant in terms of debits and credits, even if we don’t see those connections or causal relationships as immediate and obvious. The negative actions we plant in our relationships may turn up as weeds or troubles in business and we would never think to connect the dots. In this case, his corporate sponsors are dropping like flies and his career and reputation have been hit by a giant karmic asteroid – not so hard to connect the dots on this one.
If all Tiger wanted to do was bask in his fame and dwell in the land of free agent status, if he saw cohabitation with a female – no matter how hot, blonde or young – akin to being on lockdown with a prison warden, well here’s a solution: Don’t get married. If you already know you’re a bull in the china shop how about not getting all matrimonious on us?? Had he acted with integrity and been true to himself in this regard (shoulda listened to Billy Shakespeare) maybe he wouldn’t be paying such a dear price as his problems multiply faster than breeding rabbits in heat.