A Few Thoughts about Tiger
I’ve not written a single word on the Tiger Woods scandal, partly because it broke during a time I wasn’t writing much of anything; partly because everything that could be written has probably been written by somebody; partly because there’s a fine line to walk. But with his impending “news conference” scheduled for 11:00 today, a few random thoughts in no particular order, as they come to me:
1. It’s ridiculous–preposterous is an even better word–that NBC, ABC, and CBS are going to preempt their regular programming in order to cover Tiger’s statement live. You’ve got to be kidding. You’ve got to be kidding. Now, I’ll concede that there’s probably little that they ordinarily broadcast at that time of day–or any other time of day, truth be told–that’s worth watching, but the fact remains that the networks are breathlessly awaiting the pre-arranged, carefully-scripted, no-questions-allowed words to be uttered by a guy who makes a living smacking a ball into a hole. I say that as a golfer and sports fan, and I say that recognizing that Tiger is the eminently-watchable, greatest golfer of all time (IMHO). But still, there’s little in the way of rational perspective going on when you shut everything down to hear a golfer apologize for his indiscretions.
2. Does Tiger owe us an apology? I submit “no”. He owes his wife a massive apology, his kids, his mistresses, his enablers, etc.; he doesn’t owe us anything. We are not personally harmed one bit by his actions.
3. Piggybacking on that, if Jason Bohn (a no-name regular on the PGA Tour) were found out to be doing this, it’d be a yawner (news-wise, not to his wife), something that might rate a back-page blurb. Nobody would care. The sin is the same; the difference is that it’s the most visible athlete in the world rather than some second-tier hack.
4. Tiger Woods never should have been made a role model by anybody. Period. Those who made him such might feel they owe him an apology, but why would we make of Tiger a role model in the first place? I say this not to be mean to Tiger, nor to try to hold him to a (Christian) standard when he professes no faith in Christ (we have no warrant to do that), but the fact is that he lived with Elin before marriage, cusses a blue streak when shots go awry, and can be surly and even mean. Do I want my kids to grow up to be like Tiger? Nope, and that’s true even if none of this stuff ever came out. Do I appreciate some things about the man? Without question: his determination, his discipline, his sportsmanship, his commitment to excellence; these are certainly praiseworthy qualities. But a role model? Uh, no. And anybody foolish enough to lift him up as such deserves the letdown they felt a few months ago. He’s never been a role model I’d have ever encouraged (not that there aren’t some in sports–though of course we have to be careful; Kurt Warner comes to mind as one example, as does Tony Dungy, both committed believers).
5. The carefully-scripted nature of this news conference does raise questions about what’s going on here. At the same time, let me suggest two seemingly-contradictory thoughts that aren’t: one, it’s really not the business of the press to get the intimate details of his philandering. Their prying appeals only to our prurient interests, as the press encourages–and we play along with–this hellish spectatorism that causes us to think that things that are in no way “our business” in fact are. When I was first blogging, one of my semi-regular posts said something like this: “it’s been (insert time period here) since Laci Peterson was murdered, and it’s still none of our business.” Two, though, is this: if Tiger is truly repentant–and why would he understand what that even means, particularly in this warped society that doesn’t understand repentance, and in light of the fact that he’s not a believer–he’d not so carefully script things in such a way that no questions can be asked. Now, I’d suggest that if he opened up to reporters, he ought to rightly reserve the right to refuse to answer certain particular questions, but repentance is characterized, among other things, by a willingness to allow appropriate transgressions to come to light to the appropriate degree. There are questions that could be asked that would be appropriate for Tiger to answer, it seems to me; his unwillingness to allow such raise real questions about the nature of his “repentance”.
6. I wish the best for Tiger Woods. I have exactly zero faith in the “sex addiction rehab” he’s undergoing; I expect it to yield only temporary results at best; if his “rehab” isn’t grounded in a new relationship with Jesus Christ, then what’s the point? Appeals to change, strategies to change, power to change: all of these will be grounded in the shifting sand of philosophies and ideas found “under the sun”, and will amount to “vanity” in the end. Yeah, it’s possible, though, that he’ll be so concerned about his “public image”, or “the effect that his actions have on others”, or his bank account, that he’ll stop chasing every female that breathes. That isn’t totally without merit; given the fact that we as believers live in this world, and there are many more unbelievers than believers, I prefer it if unbelievers behave decently as opposed to indecently (though I have no right to expect it), but in the end, even if he maintains from this day ’til his dying day unswerving devotion to his wife (if she’ll have him back, which I doubt), but doesn’t become a follower of Jesus, he’ll go to hell a faithful man. And that, I submit, would be the worst thing of all.