For some reason I cannot explain, I'm fascinated with the Tiger Woods saga. Or, at least I was, until this week.
In the Montreal Gazette this past Saturday, sports editor Stu Cowan wrote "Who Will Cry for Tiger Woods?" In the editorial, Mr. Cowan cites a book by Tom Callahan: "His Father's Son: Earl and Tiger Woods". The book apparently describes Tiger as a mimic to his father's ethics and conduct; both are depicted as controlling womanizers.
Millions have followed the downfall of the Great American Hero who was Tiger Woods; the billionaire with a beautiful Nordic wife, two children, a diamond-mine grin, and a stratospheric golf game. Within twenty months, his now former spouse has fled the Florida heat for the cooler comfort of Scandinavia, his sponsorship opportunities have become nearly skeletal, and Tiger's existing wealth is reportedly diluting. In the middle of all this, fortunately sheltered from the media, are the two children - experiencing the joys of shared custody - who call Tiger Woods "Daddy."
With the blossoming of mobile phones, internet streams, and the wave of the information age, it will be difficult to protect the kids from discovering the definitions of 'philander', 'divorce', 'sex-ting', and 'cheat'. It will most likely, and unfortunately, be outside their mother's control to decide when and how they will learn the details of Daddy's saga. At some point in his own life, Tiger reached a deeper understanding of the personality which was his father, and, either consciously or not, absorbed many of his traits. How do I know? It's out there for all to read, watch, download, and capture; it was even deemed the worthy subject of Mr. Callahan's non-fiction book. The circus has reached maturity; some of the actors will, no doubt, benefit financially through books deals, reality shows, and interviews. This is how things are done. There is an existing machine ready to apply its template to whatever crisis it's fed. Chomp, chomp, chomp...next!
I don't know why I was so interested in watching this self-destruction. I think partly it was due to the unbelievable nature of it all; at the height of his popularity - before it transformed itself into notoriety - was there another athlete with a brighter sheen to their marble than Tiger Woods? Following this present-day tragedy was like taking a sledge-hammer to Mount Rushmore, with Mr. Woods's children being sheltered by an umbrella.
What words can be used to describe Tiger's pattern of behaviour? Psychopathic? Sociopathic? Ego-maniacal?
At home several days ago, what began as a dinner conversation about the fall of Empire Woods, morphed into a theoretical debate about the ability of the powerful to deal with their power, and whether corruption is an inevitable symptom of prestige and authority. At the time I capitulated to the belief that no individual with a billion dollars in the bank, and a coterie of cocktail waitresses at their feet, could resist corrupt sources of temptation. Now I think that's a bunch of hooey.
Sure, there are very few Tiger Woodses out there; a marriage of physical beauty and athletic ability witnessed only once or twice every other generation. But I have to believe there are billionaire fathers commanding heaps of clout within their dominions who manage to keep it in their pants. To assume that absolute power corrupts absolutely is an insult to the powerful. I refuse to accept that a great dad and husband will inescapably become a faithless Lothario following a financial or sociological windfall.
Maybe we should just accept that Tiger became his father's son, a person he would have grown to be whether as a sports legend or a telephone repairman. After all, there are repairmen who are philandering oafs and can't hit a golf ball worth a slice of cheese. We don't hear about them because they are in every way commonplace, and perhaps it's time we bestow upon the fierce Tiger the same fate deserved by the whimpering repairman: ignore him.