"I am Tiger Woods"
By Kevin Probst
I recently watched Tiger's first Nike commercial. Do you remember, all the sweet, cute little kids saying, "I am Tiger Woods"? I felt sad. Sad that Tiger lived such a destructive lifestyle and yet allowed himself to be emulated by these innocent children. Sad that mothers will now disapprove when their little ones say "I am Tiger Woods." Sad because a man who seemed to be very skilled in making the right decisions on a golf course was so foolish in his private life.
The website Roll Models on the Web says "Tiger thinks that being a good role model to others is even more important than his golf. He thinks his golf is just a vehicle for him to influence people. He wants to influence kids in a positive way. Tiger feels that's what it's all about." Obviously this was just a marketing gimmick for his Tiger Woods Foundation.
I've never seen such a meteoric fall of any athlete like that of Tiger Woods. Kobe Bryant transgressed, bought his wife a multi-million dollar diamond and all was forgiven. Pete Rose transgressed and sacrificed his hopes for Hall of Fame induction. A-Rod transgressed but his post-season performance covered a multitude of sins. Michael Vick served time for dog-abuse. But none of these even come close to the fall of America's squeaky clean, Boy Scout like god of golf.
My father always taught us growing up that one's reputation is far more important than the accumulation of riches. Tiger will always have riches but his reputation is in shambles. When will he play golf again? Will he ever play again? Will he be able to salvage his marriage? Does he still want to be married? Would he rather walk away from a beautiful wife and two lovely children to pursue his playboy lifestyle?
Tiger needs a new start. He needs to break with all the people who assisted him in the cover-up of his adulterous lifestyle. A real friend would have approached Tiger with sound advice, "Walk away from this before you destroy yourself and your family." Did anyone give him that advice? Does Tiger have even one friend who would do that for him? He should fire all the people around him who assisted him. His manager should go, his sponsors should go, his fast-lane friends should go and his bulldog snarling caddie should go. Clean the slate and start anew.
Tiger needs to start being honest, especially with himself. He must decide if he wants to love the honorable life that goes with fidelity and faithful fatherhood or would he rather choose play bunnies over family. Tiger has had pretty much everything in life handed to him on a silver platter but integrity and honor are not delivered on a platter. They require sacrifice, they must be earned.
I think its sickening and narrow minded when I hear professional athletes excuse their immoral and immature behavior by declaring they are no one's role model. Denying the truth doesn't change the truth. Of course they are role models. Nike understood that clearly when they made the "I am Tiger" commercial. When you sell your reputation to a sponsor for millions and millions of dollars you agree to a certain degree of behavioral expectation. Tiger would like to argue that he has a right to privacy. Now we understand why he fought so hard for his privacy. I would argue that the price one pays for becoming the first American billion dollar athlete is a very large measure of his privacy. A very private famous person is an oxymoron. If you are going to allow Nike to market your face and reputation into the homes of millions of Americans and influence them to spend their hard earned money to buy the product you promote, then they deserve to know who you are. Tiger is a role model and he has sacrificed his right to total privacy.
It's very sad. Shame on those who, in some sick way, are gleeful to see the self-destruction of Tiger Woods. Shame on those who would seek profit from exploiting his downfall. I'm not defending Tiger, I think he deserves to be penalized for playing out of bounds. What's so sad is to see how cheaply he sold his wife and kids. What's so desperately sad is that the god Tiger turns to during the difficult times in life is Buddha.
He serves a powerless god. Obviously his friends are few or none. The press feed on him like a school of piranha. The father he loved and depended so strongly on is now deceased. Maybe Tiger will learn what many of the rest of us have learned…when there is no one else to turn to, Christ stands knocking at the door.