Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Tiger Situation

It has been two weeks since I was receiving frantic text messages from my friends that Tiger Woods was in a car accident and in the hospital.

A lot has changed since then.

Before Thanksgiving 2009 Tiger Woods’ image, personality, family, golf-game, and life in general were archetypes for what any man in his right mind would want. Tiger had everything going for him, and it is his personality, drive, and natural talent that allowed him to get where he is. It is that same personality and drive that has gotten him to where he is two weeks after Thanksgiving 2009. Bill Simmons always complained that Tiger Woods was difficult to write about because he was basically perfect with no glaring flaws (save a few F-bombs on national TV). Now, it is impossible not to write about him. Apparently a Swedish former swimsuit model knockout for a wife is not enough to satisfy his appetite for women. This brings up the saying of “you show me a beautiful woman, and I’ll show you the guy who is tired of having sex with her.” On the course, Woods cannot be satisfied. Obviously, the same is true in the bedroom (or hotel room). He was the most dominant player in the game after 2000 and was racking up Majors and regular tournament wins. It was not enough. He revamped his swing and came back better than ever. It is this same kind of thinking, albeit this time with women and much worse consequences, that has gotten Tiger into his current predicament. He had the perfect wife, but it was not enough for him.

From the time Tiger turned pro in 1996 and signed his multi-million dollar contract with Nike, he presence has been ubiquitous. Women had to be throwing themselves at this guy. A good-looking athlete with a wholesome image. Ugly athletes with bad images who barely make an impact in their sport can clean up with women. The term field day comes to mind when it comes to Tiger and women. Until he married Elin Nordegren he constantly showed up on “Most Eligible Bachelor” lists. Needless to say, Tiger most likely never had any problems with the ladies. According to American values, when you get married, you are supposed to turn off the switch that says “chase women.” Obviously, with divorce rates where they are, most married people (women included) cannot keep it in their pants. And most people are NOT TIGER WOODS! Imagine having access to relations with almost any woman you wanted, and then suddenly giving up on that. I am not saying what Tiger has done is right (it most certainly is not), but I am saying I can see where his thoughts were (sending dirty texts thinking you only live once, right?) Tiger is so ultra-competitive that what he was getting at home was not enough for him, so he strayed. First and foremost he let down his family. It must be nice that his two kids are not old enough to grip the situation his parents are going through right now. He also let down his sponsors and fans, but why is it even their business? Sadly, there are no boundaries for privacy any more, so when the mysterious car accident left so many questions the answers needed to be found for consumers that are gossip-obsessed. Hell, I even bought US Weekly to get some more info. If there is no car accident, there is most likely no scandal other than Elin filing for divorce, eventually citing something along the lines of irreconcilable differences to protect Tiger. Tiger most definitely cheated, but that should not make it his responsibility to come up with answers for the public. He has always tried to be a private man, and I do not see any reason why that would stop now. I’m not going to get into the whole “he could have been less obvious and used more discretion” argument because cheating is cheating.

Also, what is done is done and Tiger needs to figure out what is the best way to move on. Big time sports writers have come down on opposite sides of this argument. Jason Whitlock of rationalizes Tiger’s decisions and keeps things in perspective, while still pointing out where Tiger went wrong. Rick Reilly of ESPN demands a mea culpa from Tiger. Reilly sounds ridiculous asking Tiger to do things he most certainly should not, and will not do. Things like confessing his sins and apologizing on Oprah, firing his agent and caddie for being enablers, putting a hold on his endorsement deals, and skipping the Masters and the US Open. I can agree to the Oprah appearance as a way to save face with his fans, but the rest of the things Reilly asks for are out of control and unnecessary.

In order for the public to forgive Tiger Woods he has to do two things. First he has to apologize in a more sincere way than a lame cop out announcement on his web site. People are not buying the whole “deeply sorry about my transgressions” when they are not even words that come out of his mouth. He needs to get on television look into the camera and/or interver’s eyes and say, “I’m human, I messed up, I am sorry, I will do my best to make sure it does not happen again.” (Allen Iverson did the same thing in his welcome back press conference with the 76ers. They sold out his first appearance back in Philadelphia even though they are second to last this season in attendance.) The second thing he needs to do is win, and win big. America loves winners. Skipping the Masters and the US Open is beyond my comprehension. First of all, when normal people are involved in marital disputes they don’t skip out on work, why should Tiger Woods? Second of all, Tiger is chasing the biggest record in all of golf, 18 major championships won by Jack Nicklaus, and there are only four per year. Woods lives for the majors and relishes the big moments. He wants to set the record and make it untouchable. He missed two majors after ACL surgery in 2008; he is not going to miss two in 2010 if he is healthy.

So go out and win the Masters, Tiger. Obliterate the competition like you did in ’97. I know you have it in you. We all do. If you do that, after giving your sincere apology we will forgive. We will not forget, but we will forgive. I know I will. After all, he may have lost the image, personality, and family archetypes that everybody wants, but he has not lost what got him to where he is in the first place. The best golf game this world has ever seen.