We all knew the day would come when Tiger Woods would "man up" -- come out of hiding, pick up the pieces, execute flawlessly the obligatory public mea culpa and head back to the links. He's not the first high-profile public figure caught in such an openly embarrassing situation and he will not be the last. He is now a certified member of an exclusive club with a long list of sports figures whose private lives become unraveled in the most transparent of ways: Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick, Michael Jordan, Ray Lewis, Wayne Gretzky, Jason Williams, Ben Rothlisberger and the list goes on and on! The Tiger Woods saga has been overkill by the media, but how can it not be when we are talking about the greatest golfer to ever walk on the earth? This guy is literally a living phenom, with or without controversy, and he is probably one of the most recognizable human beings in the world.
Personally I was never a Tiger Woods fan. I will admit his rise to fame has fascinated me. I watched the guy grow up on TV from his debut on the old Mike Douglas how. But I am just not into golf, at least not at all like that. And when his issues of identity confusion became such a hot public discussion a few years back, I was just not interested in this black guy who didn't seemingly understand or appreciate his African-American heritage. And that is not to take away from the pride that he finds in his self-described, broader racial classification of "Cablinasianism," in which he celebrates his caucasian, black, Native American and Asian background. But I did write a column chastising him for his dearth of understanding real American racial history and for downplaying his African extract.
When his sexual indiscretions became public knowledge and on such a grand scale, I did feel that -- even though I am definitely opposed to martial infidelity and do not condone his behavior -- this guy's private life is his own personal business. And unless he committed a criminal act which involved rape, molestation, solicitation, or harassment, then his problems are his alone and should be worked out with his wife, his God, and his spiritual advisor. The media has no business in his bedroom.
Does he have a responsibility to his fans? He probably does. But they must decide how to deal with him: Stop buying tickets to his events. Stop supporting his charities. Stop buying his endorsed products.
Is he a role model? Maybe. But again it's the public who must decide that. Is he a monster? No more a monster than anyone else who has done the same thing or similar.
The bigger question to be asked in this celebrity-driven society is what role we played in creating Tiger Woods. Of course he is responsible, but are we also accountable? Did we arrest his childhood and embitter his innocence? Did we force him into a self-imposed psychological isolation that expressed itself in his privacy, hiding and paranoia of all things normal? I argue we have done it with other child stars. One thing for sure: We must never forget, as human beings, all of us are just steps from committing the same infractions. Given the right circumstances, situations and psychological and spiritual disarray -- there but for the grace of God go us!
We now know Tiger is no longer that little innocent kid with the gigantic smile and shy demeanor that we so adored. We know that he likes white girls of the Barbie type and has a voracious sexual appetite which requires him to participate in sex therapy -- obviously we now know too much! We also know those who control the commerce of golf are doing all they can to get this guy back as soon as they can. They are talking about the Master's ,which is next month. The surgery, so to speak, has barely ended and the sore has not even healed -- so who is the biggest hypocrite here? Tiger or us?
Given just a little time and the loss of substantiate revenue, the money handlers were not about to alienate Tiger any longer than they had to. Tiger is golf! With his absence millions of dollars are being lost.
I am not saying America is not a forgiving nation and a place of redemption, restoration and all that. But nothing speaks louder than money in a capitalist society.
So, since his wife seems to be forgiving, and he did apologize to the world, and he did go to five weeks of counseling, and he is reconnecting with his Buddhist faith, and he didn't commit any crime -- and besides, he will probably be the greatest golfer that ever lived, a virtual cash cow for so many -- let the kid come back!