TIGER WOODS: OBSERVATIONS

I wasn’t going to go there, but since the issue has ignited a firestorm, it’s irresistible.

Tiger Woods has been one of my few living American heros. He still is.

Tiger cheated on his wife. Everyone would agree that is dishonorable. But it is dishonorable as it pertains to his personal life, not his public life nor his sport. So, here’s a few observations, as I see it:

1) Tiger’s infidelity is a private matter. I cringe every time I see a comedian make jokes about him. Every time there is a “Breaking News” story about his latest admissions, or a summary of those dalliances with a long list of females, I feel like we are invading the inner sanctum of someone else’s life which is none of my business, nor yours. We…primarily Americans and Brits…are constantly hungry for the dirt on celebrities, as though we are entitled. We’re not.

Unless of course, we’re talking about a state governor who disappears for four days to another country while he’s supposed to be on the public teat. Unless, of course, we’re talking about a president who uses the White House (Our House) as a forum for head jobs while he’s supposed to be keeping our country safe. Then, it is our business.

Otherwise, what Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods or Brad Pitt do in their private lives, is a family matter, not a public matter…unless they break the law.

2) I think about the media frenzy. This story has dominated every news show for two weeks, while wars are being fought on two fronts, a nation is in financial crisis, and thousands of other heros lining hospital rooms at Walter Reed get little or no mention.

3) I think about all the people who mock and judge. Media, commentators, comics, talk show hosts, sports figures, etc., many of whom should look in the mirror before they cast aspersions.

4) I think about the lures associated with fame and wealth. It’s got to be tough for a hormone-raging, thirty-year-old jock, thousands of miles from home throughout the year, in party atmosphere one after another, to resist the constant temptations. Wealthy athletes associated with the NBA, NFL, boxing, golf, tennis and other sports, are constantly on the road, living out of a suitcase, socializing in hotels while wives are at home tending to kids, or their BOTOX treatments. No doubt, many of them are well aware that their husbands engage in the pleasures of women who throw themselves at their feet, or in some cases, accept huge sums of money in exchange for their discreet services. This doesn’t give Tiger a pass, but it does bring it into the human perspective.

5) I never thought about the racial issue until I listened to a radio talk show in which a caller, a black man, caught my attention. As the media examines Tiger’s behavior with a microscope, it’s pretty obvious that his preference in women all share a similar profile. Blonde, white and beautiful…like his wife. The caller pointed out, that many of these wealthy black athletes who marry, seem to gravitate to inter-racial relationships, generally white women, usually blondes.

The issue, he said, is how it plays out to black women. How do they feel? Why is it that so many of these athletes, who could anyone they want, make such choices? I must admit, it made me think. And if it made me think, it certainly must make black folks think.

6) I think about Tiger paying for sex via escort businesses. Makes sense. He had no interest in forming a personal relationship with women, thus the pay-for-sex route. He didn’t want anyone to fall in love with him, or vise versa. After all, he had a family…and an image to protect.

Oh well.

7) Tiger is still the greatest golfer of all time. His demeanor on the links has been impeccable, always supportive and courteous to his challengers, and accommodating to the press.

He has been a valuable role model to millions of kids, particularly minorities, who see him as a giant figure who stayed focused to overcome bias and discrimination. His generosity through foundations has opened a number of golf clinics around the world, mainly focusing on kids. And, at the age of 33, has already won 71 PGA tournaments and 14 majors, one with a broken foot.

I hope this will eventually pass and we’ll watch his magic on the links once again in 2010. But when he does come back on the tour, he will have a new and important role for the youngsters at those golf clinics. That’s teaching the importance of fidelity.

What say you?