Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Real Tiger Woods

“Who knows what any of us would be like after 30 years with no one ever telling you ‘No.’”
A fellow I was working with last weekend said that. He wasn’t talking about Tiger Woods, although we both laughed and agreed he might has well have been.

The sordid Tiger Woods scandal is different only in degree, not in kind, from dozens of other scandals involving athletes, actors, politicians, preachers — all men of power and prestige, who are too often coddled and enabled by Yes Men (and apparently lots of Yes Women as well).

So, there’s obviously something to what my friend says. Fame, fortune and power obviously contribute to narcissism.

But my creed is that character is fate. The seeds of narcissism have to be there in the first place to grow into the giant weed that is Tiger Woods’ character.

Of course there are enormous temptations placed in the path of the wealthy, the powerful, the talented, the beautiful and the famous. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing inherently wrong with indulging yourself in those temptations. Unless you’re living a lie, preaching or displaying one set of public values and virtues while privately practicing ... something else.

Until you make a promise to another person.

Private matter? You go out of your way to make yourself a public figure, you flash your dazzling smile across TV screens across the world and reap the enormous financial rewards of creating a public persona then complain when your own actions crack the facade and give your public a glimpse behind the curtain? Come on. That’s just one more layer of hypocrisy.

Honesty, integrity, authenticity — these are marks of character. As humans, we sometimes fall short of our best character. We make mistakes. The heart — or the mind and the body — strays.
But Tiger Woods didn’t make a “mistake.” He made choices, tried to cover them up and projected an image of a devoted son, husband and father, an incredibly gifted athlete with a charmed life.

That’s not having your character twisted by years of nobody telling you “No” and too many women saying “Yes.” It’s not “sex addiction” or some other form of psychological disorder. That’s just hypocrisy, self-indulgence and bad character.

The guy’s a bum. We didn’t know it, but he always was.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Jim,

    Agree with your observations regarding Tiger Wood, however...

    There are many of us who could care less about Mr. Wood; his career; his personal problems; his all too (now) public problems.

    Tiger Wood and all those others in the field of sports entertainment are merely spectacles, hollow icons given far too much attention and influence (like politicians).

    There's many other tried and true role models out there, many of very humble and quiet standing, to respect and listen to than "digital heroes" like Tiger Wood.

  2. The guys is a bum? really? None of this changes that he demonstrates, by example, that to achieve the pinnacle of your profession requires commitment to your craft, focus to all the details of what you do and leaving nothing to chance.

    These are not hollow lessons from a digital hero. Perhaps what we all know is just in our face here: excellence on this level requires sacrifice not just from the individual but all those around them as well.

    There is always collateral damage when this level of achievement is involved. no one is charmed. Some times the damage becomes public, sometimes not. But it is always there, guaranteed.

  3. Who cares and why judge others lives?Every one of us was done or has something someone else would think is wrong. Media is equally shameful to focus on such trivia..Leave the poor rich guy alone

  4. I've been re-thinking this post and kinda regretting even making it.

    For one thing, it's ridiculously low-hanging fruit. As my brother said, the fruit's shaken out of the tree and lying all over the lawn.

    I generally don't weigh in or even form opinions on this kind of stuff. The Woods thing seemed "different" to me because he made himself into a cultural icon that transcended his sport. There seemed to be a level of hypocrisy here that just bugged me.

    But I don't know if that's for real. Maybe the culture made him an icon and he just went with it. Maybe he's just a guy (with a tremendous talent and bags of money) with some demons (compulsions if you prefer) to sort out. Maybe he's just figuring out who he really is.

    And he's quit the game for a while to do that. Really, we should all wish him the best in the effort and let this thing die.

    Anonymous 12/9 is right. Shoulda just left the poor rich guy alone. My bad.

    Jim Cornelius, Editor

  5. Jim,

    I am sorry that you feel it necessary to retreat on or soften your stance on Tiger Woods and his problems. He is not an accidental icon, nor is his fame and fortune based solely on his golfing prowess. He chose the limelight, and chose to transcend "average" stardom, to become the cultural and athletic icon that he is.

    When he decided to brand himself, even developing his own logo, and contracted with some of the world's premier company to act as their spokesman, for extraordinary amounts of money, he placed himself in a position of responsibility. He crafted a lifestyle that would support the image that he sought to portray, sold it to the world, and was highly rewarded.

    His decision to try to be a family man while living a "secret" rock star life was ethically and morally unsound, and quite hypocritical. His sponsors would be in the right to demand that he return some of their investments in him, since they were deceived.

    It is not a matter of judging what went on in his marriage, which should remain private. Tiger violated the spirit of, and probably the provisions of his endorsement contracts, let down his enormous fan base (who pay for his success, directly and indirectly), and exposed his brand as a fraud. He is paying a terrible price for that, but one which he richly deserves, and has earned. To label him a bum is letting him off far too easily.

    Should this debacle be of public interest? Darn straight! When Tiger positioned himself to live in the public eye, for his enrichment, he became a public figure. He may have wanted complete privacy off of the course, but again, you can't live in both worlds, any more than you can be a family man with a rock star sideline.

    Keep up the good blogging.