Wood You or Woodn’t You? You Have No Idea
Of the most egregious incidences in sports, Tiger Woods does not even rank- why?Because what he did – or didn’t do- has nothing to do with his everlasting legacy as the greatest golfer in the history of the game. Why are we (and I don’t mean me) so anxious to knock him down? He has remained virtually unblemished since he turned pro at the young, so very young, age of 20. He has been built up by the media and by society to be the paragon of virtue, and heavy is the head that wears this crown.
Has he simply proven himself a mortal? Is it possible he is capable of a lapse in judgment?Why is he not allowed to make a mistake without it ringing out like a shot? Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone (rarely will you find me ever referencing the Bible- but in this case- few statements could underscore my outrage). Really? Is there a public figure of his notoriety who hasn’t made a misstep? Has anyone currently lambasting Tiger Woods walked in his shoes or lived a life completely free of sin?
Take any man (or woman) and put them in line for sainthood, hand them hundreds of millions of dollars, bless them with charm, magnetism and good looks, call them out publicly as being the best in his field since the field was defined, and see if they are able to resist the pitfalls. I know some VERY good men- but few who could withstand that pressure. Why?Because it is a lot to handle.
I know no one who can find all of their needs met within the confines of marriage- further, is it healthy for the entirety of our happiness to be wrapped up in one person? It is why we retain friends, continue to make friends, have trusted associates, strong bonds with our parents and engage in hobbies our spouses might not enjoy. It is the nature of relationships they might evolve and take on an unexpected dimension. The “right” thing to do is to resist the temptation or the impulse. However, circumstances in our own lives or relationship (marriage) might create an environment where resisting is not the right thing for US at the time. Resisting temptation might be right in the eyes of society- but not what WE need at the time.
What was the “right” thing for Tiger to do as a husband and father of two? How can I know the answer to that? Marriage is a very interesting paradigm- a relational status you entered into willingly and lovingly is now recognized by law and under the dictates of intense societal confines. If you judge people based on their ability to maintain a “perfect” marriage- there would be no good people and certainly no good marriages. Oh, I know, your parents have been happily married for 50 years, right? WRONG. Separate them and get them hammered (as I have suggested before) and you are likely to hear things that would light your hair on fire. Fact of the matter is- society has made marriage too difficult.
Originally marriage was defined as the “Union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by the law”- by “union” you could assert “harmonious coming together- agreement”. Wow, how easy until death do us part used to be. All we had to do was be in agreement and harmonious. Further, people only lived 25 to 40 years. Marriage was different back then- often times marriages were “arranged” uniting powerful families to bolster lineage. Children were born to help work the land. It was a unit- a team.
Things have changed. Is it because we want an “out” society will accept? My wife divorced me because I had a significant “emotional affair” during a trying season of our marriage? Or, is it because society wants to make sure anyone willing to leave the covenant of marriage is ostracized? This might help govern the behavior if someone is worried about becoming an outcast? Either way- now we have “emotional affairs,” “intellectual affairs,” “physical affairs,” in addition to the longtime favorite- “sexual affairs.” How can anyone NOT screw this up? Now a great working relationship has become “inappropriate.” Has anyone given any thought to the fact not all relationships, regardless of their depth, lead to a sexual place?
Why would a woman turn to another man for comfort or support? Because her husband is not available in that capacity. Why would a man turn to another woman for comfort, support and bolstering? Because his needs are not being met at home. Now, this could be as simple as the couple not communicating need or want- but it could run deeper. What if a woman has not had sex with her husband in three years because he is overweight and not appealing to her? Either way- do you really want to be so arrogant as to be the moral arbiter of someone else’s life circumstances? The quickest way to find your self judged is to judge.
We are not perfect- if we are lucky, we are Clever and put forth the effort to be good people- but we will make mistakes. We will fail ourselves, our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends. Not because this is our goal, but because everyone places their expectations on us and in the process of meeting our own needs- often we disappoint others by not living up to their expectations.
Now- about Tiger. Did he have sex outside the confines of his marriage? Maybe. Does it make him a bad man. No. Does it make him a bad person? No. Does it make him a bad golfer? Hell, no. Does it make him a bad husband? We don’t know what goes on within their marriage. Does it make him a bad father? Unlikely, as it relates to the treatment of his children. Again, we do not know. Does it make him a bad role model for children? No more than anyone else who isn’t PERFECT.
Tiger has been Tiger- the MEDIA is in large part responsible for creating what might not be an accurate depiction of Tiger. Until now, it has been assumed he was without flaw- unlikely and unreasonable an image for anyone. So- since his extra-marital conduct has nothing to do with whether he is the best golfer in the history of the game- it would be nice if he and his wife could resolve or dissolve privately.
Do I extend this generosity to everyone? Yes. In sports- if your conduct is outside the realm of the sport and is not criminal- yes. Do I think Kobe Bryant is guilty of anything other than adultery? No. But alleging rape gets a lot more attention and is difficult to defend. You can almost be guaranteed a payoff. Why would Kobe Bryant need to rape anyone to have sex?I’m not stipulating those in positions of power do not feel entitled and perhaps pursue a bit more forcefully, but violent rape? Not likely.
In the past 15 years, we have been conditioned to accept that which is unacceptable. For example- Gary Moeller was fired as the head coach of the University of Michigan in 1995 after tapes were released following an arrest for disorderly conduct at a restaurant in Michigan. Look at what has gone on since then? Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, Pedro Martinez, steroid scandal after steroid scandal, Ron Artest- to name a few.
The most important and relevant situation to the Gary Moeller issue is Rick Pitino. His conduct- SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman in a restaurant, extortion allegations and claims of pregnancy. He simply issued a public apology and resumed his coaching position at Louisville. University of Michigan, with it’s exacting standards for professional and personal conduct, let go a man whose record spoke volumes and who could have continued the legacy created by Bo Schembechler. He had a few too may drinks and wasdefending his coaching and his team (albeit, loudly). Hmmm. Things HAVE changed.
All that to say this. What happened on Tiger Woods’ property is a private matter (I don’t even think a ticket should have been issued). We don’t know the condition of his marriage.What factors would have to exist for this to be OK with you? What if his wife had not smiled at him, given him a hug or a word of encouragement since the birth of their first child? What if the pregnancy was unplanned- a forgotten “pill” by Elin, which lead to early parenthood- despite the fact they had agreed not to have children until he retired? What if they have a horrible relationship and had agreed to see other people- quietly- after all, for as high profile as he is- it has been very quiet. The point is- no one knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage- therefore, let’s skip the judgment and let this couple alone.
Perhaps the grossest aspect of this scenario is the comment from Jesper Parnevik- “friend” and fellow golfer. To me, the true measure of who you are as a friend and person is your support when things blow up. It is so easy to be back-slapping best friends with someone when they are riding high- but who are you when things fall apart? If I were Tiger Woods- I would have reserved my apology for my wife and only my wife. After all, he didn’t let me down. He still continues to conduct himself with grace and humility on the course and that is something sorely lacking in the world of professional sports.
In my opinion- Jesper’s comment sounds so much more like a disgruntled and jealous fellow golfer who is delighting in what he hopes is a career-killing act. Gross. How morally bankrupt a person must you be to delight in the misfortunes of others? For those in the media stirring the pot? I hope you are not the next person to fall victim to public humiliation for a private matter.
OK, I must go. I have a wedding to see to. I want to say congratulations to easily one of the Cleverest Women I have ever known. She waited- under intense scrutiny (it is so much more societally acceptable to have been divorced three times than to have never been married by your mid-30s) for a man as Clever as she. I love you both and look forward to watching your lives together unfurl, guided by respect, love and support.
Saturday is a big day. Lots going on. I look forward to your feedback, Clever Tribe.