Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger, Keep Your Paws to Yourself

Ok. I'm not a golfer. Mark Twain described golf as "a good way to ruin a long walk." I agree. However, I am fascinated with pop culture, our heroes, and our god Sportacus. Tiger has intrigued me with his skills and his empire. I was terribly disappointed and angered when his Nov. 27, 2009, debacle hit the fan-- and his fans.

I'm angry at him. Tiger, I thought you were one of my heroes. Are there any heroes left? Heroes with not only skills or athletic prowess or feats accomplished, but also with integrity? Don't build us up only to let us down. Bogey, man.

I realize anger or disgust can't be the only response. When anyone is willing to forsake their reputation, their marriage, their family, multi-million dollar endorsements --all for some pleasure outside the Tiger den--there is a serious problem. One of the hallmarks of addiction is the willingness to pursue and engage in high-risk behavior in spite of the likelihood of extensive loss. In my sane moments my heart goes out to him, a man in the throes of addiction.

Unfortunately, his speech today did not warm my heart further, and I doubt the public is oozing newly-birthed compassion. Yes, the speech was scripted, but we were informed of that a couple days ago. No surprise. However, the absence of any emotion? Big surprise. Come on--his canned speech was canned. He had all the right words today, all the therapeutic recovery jargon. I would bet my Nike endorsement that several recovery therapists crafted his speech and then ran it by a public relations guy for final editing, after which he was told, "Now go out there and read it." He took ownership ("It's all my fault. . . I alone am responsible." ) He confessed a sense of entitlement ("I felt I had worked hard my entire life; and I felt entitled. . . ") He made amends to his family and the public. All the right words, but I detected no emotion whatsoever. His emotional pulse was flat-line; flat-line until he displayed anger at the media for hounding him and his family. Now would not be the time to rip on the media, Tiger. Retract the fangs. The only emotion shown was anger at the media following the most public and famous athlete in the history of the world. Where was the remorse, the sadness, the contrition, the grief? Yes, there were words of remorse and sadness, but I saw no feelings accompanying the words. He could have, at least, acted sorry. Couldn't an acting coach have scripted a pregnant pause, a change in inflection, an index finger occasionally dabbing an emerging tear. His speech contained all the emotion of a first grade class reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Double bogey.

And what took so long? It's taken over two and a half months to, if nothing else, utter three unscripted words--"I am sorry." With feeling. Triple bogey.

I will suspend further opinion. As I sit here and look at these words on the screen I am having an uncomfortable realization: my sense of moral superiority and self-righteousness in my filleting of and railing against him may be as scandalous in God's eyes as Tiger's swinging and flinging.

Enough said.


Anonymous said...

I was glad when I read your last paragraph. I was looking at your words wondering why you are so affected by this Tiger scandal. Tiger was groomed from the time he was a toddler to be what he is today. He didn't ask to be anyone's hero, he didn't commit to not being a sex addict when he accepted Nike's endorsements. As far as a scripted apology, well, of course. Our sports "heroes" are bought and paid for. Why do we consider them heroes to begin with? Role models? Sure kid, grow up, play baseball and makes billions of dollars and you will be a role model, a hero. Why? What is heroic about any of it? And why would we want anyone to model their behavior? "We" don't even know them. And Tiger's lack of emotion? Maybe he doesn't "feel" sorry or remorseful. Maybe he apologized merely because his agent told him to. Our integrity had better come from within, not by modeling some athlete that lives in an altered reality.

Steve said...

Tim, I appreciate your assessment of Tiger and his behavior. My only reservation would be that, at times, you seem to portray him as a victim. I do echo your questioning of him and others being "heroes." It seems that today a hero is determined by his or her skills; in an earlier time a person was regarded as a hero because of their character and the acts of courage which resulted from that nobility of character. Thanks for making me think further.

Anonymous said...

Hollis is my hero. He has come from poverty and trauma. He drinks too much. But Hollis works harder than most, at a lousy job with little pay. He is one of the most courteous and selfless people I know. There is no reason why he should do what he does, there is little reward but he assumes responsibility for himself. His happiness comes from within and spills over onto anyone he is with. He perserveres even though he doesn't want to. When I think I have it rough or don't want to go to work, I think of Hollis. He is my role model and he can't even spell....
Oh, I wasn't trying to portray Tiger as a victim. I was saying, it is what it is. Would it matter if he were some kind of victim anyway? What it change anything? I say no. The abuse excuse doesn't fly with me. (I'm not as mean as I sound though.)
Thanks Steve,