Maybe I do have something to say about Tiger Woods that hasn’t been said yet. At least I haven’t seen this angle in the news. But first, the background . . .
I am not a sports fan at all, just a person with an enduring interest in popular culture. Here is how bad it is: I never know who is going to be in the play-offs for the world series until I hear some of my friends talking about it. Then, in self-defense, I start paying attention to the news. And, golf, let me tell you, the ONLY time I have ever attended a golf match was to watch Arnold Palmer play a demonstration at OSU back in the ’60s, and that was at the begging of my drummer-buddy of the time, Ted Hamilton. I pretty much found out about the Tiger Woods scandal like most of the world. The news is saturated with the story.
Gradually, a picture of Tiger Woods began to emerge as just another superstar whose power and prestige led to him taking risks that most of us wouldn’t dream of trying. Tiger Woods was doing what most hot, relatively young guys in good condition dream of doing for most of their waking moments. I kept thinking of Bill Clinton. Clinton is one of the brightest and most talented men in the world, a guy with a phenomenal memory, the ability to connect directly with people, a genius for politics, genuine humanity, and on the downside, an ego the size of Manhattan and a sexual addiction problem. Oddly, I seldom read the words “sexual addiction” used when “Monica Lewinsky” was becoming a household word, and now I don’t hear those words used when Tiger Woods is being discussed.
Another part of this picture of Tiger Woods is that this guy is not a particularly deep-thinking person when it comes to matters of relationships and sex. Most of us aren’t—either deep-thinking or wise—when falling into the significant relationships we forge. We just find ourselves in the middle of them, and most of us don’t have the talent or skill to make the kind of bucks that Tiger does. And because we have to have our heroes perfect, Tiger has known for a long time that he has to pretend to be as perfect as we want him to be, and and the money-makers need him to appear to be. He made all the right moves, mainly learning to keep very quiet. Unfortunately for Tiger, if a bright guy like Bill Clinton couldn’t avoid eventually being brought down by his political enemies, Tiger was doomed to be revealed in his (actually unbelievably excessive) dalliances by some self-interested person along the way.
So, to summarize, genius golfer, average social and moral intelligence, and sexual addiction pretty much equals this mess. It’s a real tragedy, and I’m not inclined to be too hard on the guy, except, he shoulda known that this kind of outcome was likely and would be SO HARD on everyone close to him.
If making the right choices in life is hard for all of us, it must be infinitely more so for superstars like Tiger. The road to disgrace, however, is paved with the little tiny choices that face us every day. It took Tiger years to get himself into this mess. Look how long it took to catch Bernie Madoff at his incredibly destructive shenanigans.
I’m an old duffer now, and I never achieved much fame or fortune. But I have really worried about my choices as I moved through life. I have lots and lots of weaknesses and flaws that I will probably be working to improve until my dying day. But one thing I have really worked on is this. I really have tried to make my choices in life be ones I could at least live with. In my case, I stayed faithful to my partner for 25 years. It was hard, but I did it. I said, “The only way to have a relationship is to have one.” And before that, I played the field, so I’m not trying to pretend to be a moral goody two shoes here. But WHILE I was playing the field, I didn’t lead someone or “my public” to believe anything else. I don’t really think you can combine those two modes successfully, whether you make $5,000, or $50,000 or $5,000,000 a year.
Being good to the people you relate to, even when they don’t return the favor, is worth a lot more than getting your rocks off. And each little choice you make in your life can take you in one direction or the other. Each little choice. But it gets easier and easier to make the choice, whichever direction you choose to go in.