I respect Tiger Woods as an athlete. If there was one autograph I’d actually make an effort to obtain, it would be Tiger’s. As a golf enthusiast, I understand the true breadth and depth of his talent. But to marvel at Tiger’s talent is only half the story. What separates the World’s Best Golfer is his unbending work ethic. Tiger’s religious devotion to practice and training is well documented. Perhaps there are other tour players who possess more raw talent but none exist who compete with Tiger’s work regimen.
Tiger is also unique in that throughout his career he has enjoyed a high level of celebrity combined with a commensurate level of privacy. Before recent stories of infidelity, Tiger’s name was nary mentioned in tabloids. His image was squeaky clean and seemingly unimpeachable. It is this image, even more than his golfing acumen, that has afforded Tiger his life of luxury. Each year, on average, Tiger earns between $10-$12 million in golf winnings. Comparatively, he makes approximately $110 million in endorsements. Of all the incredible athletes to grace the field of play, Tiger will be the first to hit the billion dollar mark (if he hasn’t already). That’s how valuable Tiger is as a brand.
So the recent headlines are a concern for Tiger. However, in my opinion as a lowly stay-at-home dad who doesn’t have the capacity to understand the high-stakes game of athletic endorsements, it should be the least of Tiger’s concerns. Although he may lose some endorsements, they will eventually be replaced and his image and bank account healed. What may not be so easily repaired is the trust of his two little kids. I’m not sure how the man looks his kids in the eye. How does he go about repairing the relationship with his children? PR professionals and lawyers can’t help with this image crisis. Insofar as I know, press releases and spokespersons do not work all that well with kids. Winning more majors will ingratiate Tiger to golf fans but will do little in the way of rebuilding the trust his children so richly deserve. I think we as a society make the mistake of believing these kids will be fine because they live in a multi-million dollar mansion but kids are kids and they have feelings and emotions that need to be respected regardless of their lot in life.
Tiger Woods is an amazing athlete; as a daddy, he leaves much to be desired. The embarrassment and shame he has brought to his family are, on some level, irreparable. However, the cliché that men only think with their dicks and that this is typical of men is unfair to those of us who take the vow of fidelity seriously. Likewise, no self-respecting woman who married for love would want to be lumped in the “gold digger” category. Articles on “How to Tell if Your Man is Cheating” should read “spouse,” as philandering is not the sole province of men.
But is it really all that surprising? No. What’s surprising is the time it’s taken for the veil to be lifted. I’ve followed Tiger’s career since before he became a professional and the fact that he seemed impervious to controversy for so many years only suggested that it was a matter of when not if some mud would soil his pristine image. It was difficult for me to believe that he was as saintly as his image suggested. Call me stupid but in my infinite naiveté I believe that everyone has flaws and weaknesses and it was only a matter of time before Tiger’s were revealed.
Am I disappointed? No. Why? Because unlike many, my heroes are not famous people. When I was younger, I had heroes who were athletes but they always fell short of my expectations. I learned that heroes are not superhuman; they’re people just like the rest of us but who you believe are somehow better than yourself. Eventually it occurred to me that belief in myself was the best policy. It seems to me that heroes do alright when others believe they are God; it’s when they start to believe it themselves that they fall from grace.
There has been much commented about Tiger’s right to privacy. Does Tiger have a right to privacy? Sure he does just as I have a right to all the amenities and privileges that Tiger enjoys. I’m not talking about money; I’m talking about access. Yet, even though I have a right to access and Tiger has a right to privacy, the reality is that it’s unlikely either one of us will come to enjoy these rights. You see privacy and fame come at a price. Tiger has to remember his fame affords him access to things we common folk covet, like court-side basketball tickets. With fame comes complimentary champagne, clothes and cars (and, in many cases, women). If Tiger desires privacy, then he must give up the seductive benefits of fame. I have privacy because I don’t have access; celebrities don’t have privacy because they do. Privacy and fame are valued commodities on different sides of the spectrum and unfortunately for Tiger, they are mutually exclusive. Tiger is now learning the simple truth that fame is not a resource that can be turned off when it’s inconvenient to be well known. Quite frankly it’s insulting when celebrities only pull the “privacy” card when the proverbial poop hits the fan. I’ve never seen a celebrity asking for privacy when walking down the red carpet or receiving an invitation to the White House.
To Tiger I say, you’re the best golfer in the world. Your job now is to become the best daddy. Understand that your place in golf history is secured; your place in the hearts of your children is not. You have a supposed crack team of consultants helping with your legal and public relations issues (even though I would say their advice has been bush league). These are the same individuals who remind you of your greatness, a gallery of sycophants who only tell you “yes.” But I’m here to tell you “no,” that what you’ve done to your kids is NOT cool. However, all is not lost. If you want solid advice on your paternal obligations, I have an entire database of quality men who elevate the title of “dad.” Give me a call and I’ll put you in touch.
This post is part of a Dad Bloggers Project over at Dad-Blogs. Click on over to check out other dad’s perspectives on Tiger Woods.