Oh, Tiger - Macleans.ca

Oh, Tiger


I’m watching Tiger Woods’ speech as I write this, and aside from being very glad that his wife isn’t standing right next to him at the moment, I don’t know what to say about it.

When he says he hopes we’ll believe in him again, my knee-jerk answer is that most people who believed in him did so because he was a great golfer. If he returns to golf and once again performs brilliantly, people will believe in him again. If not, not. If Dwight Gooden had returned to his 1984-5 level of performance after his drug problems, he would have become a hero again, and deservedly.

That’s the one thing that keeps our society’s attitude to sports at least mildly healthy. At the moment, some analyst on CNN is calling his speech a “disaster” because of the optics of it, saying that Woods’ refusal to take questions and his attacks on the media will “anger the media.” He’s probably right, in a sense. But that just demonstrates that the public may be smarter than the monolith known as “the media.” The public normally “forgives” public figures for doing stuff that is actually none of our business, as long as these public figures give us something in return (entertainment, thrills, heroism). It’s the TV talking heads who seem consumed with the idea that Woods or Bill Clinton or whoever owe us something more than that. Someone on CNN just said he expected to see some “humility” from Woods and instead saw only “arrogance.” How about expecting some good golf from him instead?

As for the announcement that he’s going back for more therapy… I’m sure that therapy can help sometimes. But sleeping around is not exactly uncommon among athletes (let alone a sign of a serious problem), so every time an athlete makes an announcement like that, I’m always remembered of another athlete with problems, Sam Malone:

Niles: Is it my imagination, or is Sam flirting with Daphne?

Frasier: Of course he’s flirting with her.  He flirts with everyone. He can’t help it, he’s a sexual compulsive.  But he’s getting help for it in a support group.

From the kitchen, Daphne giggles and titters again.

Niles: Did he miss a meeting?!

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Oh, Tiger

  1. If Tiger's behaviour is "actually none of our business":

    – Why is it a story? Why have all the advertisers dropped out? Why did he make this propaganda statement today?

    – Why do you applaud his sexual exploits and those of other athletes? I thought it was none of your business.

    Or maybe character matters to some. Maybe standards matter. Indeed, my guess is that there are rich and attractive athletes out there, and they somehow manage to be good family people, too. But I guess that wouldn't make it on an episode of Cheers, or on this blog.

    • Sure, there are great and "good" athletes out there. But I don't judge an athlete based on morality, just as I don't read a book because the author is a good person or watch a movie because the director is saintly.

      Our culture is preoccupied with the cult of personality: We put people on pedestals for wrong reasons, and get an odd pleasure from seeing them fall out of misplaced grace.

      • I know I make decisions based on what I know of people. If I knew an author was a pedophile, I wouldn't go anywhere near his book.

        • Ever watched a Woody Allen movie after how he treated his partner? Read Catcher in the Rye despite Salinger leading on Joyce Maynard? Beethoven had many affairs which hurt his family– stop listening to him too?

    • – Why is it a story? Why have all the advertisers dropped out? Why did he make this propaganda statement today?

      Because he consciously built a public persona based on squeaky-cleanness, as many public figures do (usually misleadingly). When that persona turns out to be fake, as it usually does, he loses the endorsement deals that were based on that persona. That's fair enough. But he hurt his image; he didn't hurt us.

      – Why do you applaud his sexual exploits and those of other athletes?

      I don't see it as "applauding" to point out that it's very common. That's not a judgment about whether it should or should not be.

      • If he had beaten his wife and kids, he wouldn't have been hurting us either, but we certainly would have made moral judgements, wouldn't we? We sure as heck did with Michael Vick and dogs. And we also wouldn't have pointed out "how common" it was, we'd be outraged. Don't quite understand this obsession with excusing everything people do "in their private lives." Character goes with you wherever you go.

  2. I think people are able to separate the man from the greatness. The man is weak, while his talents in golf are strong. Chess fans never cared that Bobby Fischer was a rabid anti-Semite. They just wanted him to come back and play chess.

  3. There are differences in degree, though. There's a reason why beating people is illegal and adultery isn't.

    • In some countries the adulterer is punished by a good beating.

    • Adultery is illegal under the law of God.

      • Funnily enough, slavery and beating your slaves wasn't illegal in the law of God.

  4. That was an episode of "Frazier" wasn't it? I'm not sure. Anyway…..When athletes are married and sleep around it's a big problem. Obviously their integrity comes into question. It's like you said…….he consciously built his public persona. As a result people were hurt. He let down his fans who bought into his image. I don't think Tiger should be in therapy to curb his sexual appetite. He would be better served if he could cure his narcissism.

  5. The law of what now? Never heard of such a law.