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December 4, 2009

Tiger by The Tail…

Derek Shackelford

Tiger Woods is arguably the most famous athlete in the entire world. Heck, he might even be the most recognizable person in the entire world. All because he can play a game called golf.


It is no secret that he is the best at what he does. His elite playing golf status has allowed him to accumulate millions of dollars, not only on the golf course but in also the endorsement arena. Thus his recognizable status. Now, he is on the national news because of something besides golf and endorsements.


Last week, Mr. Woods made national headlines when he was involved in an early morning traffic accident. It would not have been major news if for one it was not Tiger Woods in the accident and the alleged apparent circumstances surrounding the crash.


The questions are many: What happened? Why would Mr. Woods be driving from his house in the wee early morning hours? Why would his wife be carrying a golf club?


Now some of these questions were a result of information that was later released. Thus, the speculation of what happened. The theories were running amuck. It is no secret of most media outlets desire to be first with the story, often at the expense of gathering factual information. Media outlets want to be the first on the scene, first with the breaking story, and first with reporting what is happening. Again at the expense of facts and not salacious details. Lest we forget that Mr. Woods is just a person who plays golf very well.


So, now we fast forward to the beginning of this week. Speculation was rampant as Internet news hits were up surrounding the incident. It was apparent that many of the outlets became fixated on alleged indiscretions in Mr. Woods’ marriage. Several supposed mistresses’ pictures were posted, their occupation and their so-called relationship with Mr. Woods.  Due to much of the media scrutiny, Mr. Woods released a statement offering as little information as possible and an apology regarding his family situation. He requested that his privacy be protected and respected. This was a private manner between him and his family. One could only wish. Why?


Because of our fixation with celebrities and well-known people. We become a part of them because of their ability to entertain us. And because of this, we feel like we must know what really goes on in their private lives.


In no way am I condoning the actions of Tiger Woods, whatever they may be. If his apparent indiscretion is infidelity in his marriage, then this is strictly between him and his wife. Not me, not you, and not us.


Just because a man can play golf does not give us a license to intervene in his personal affairs no matter how much he entertains us. With all the media attention and media hype, there is a fixation on the personal life of athletes and celebrities. Because of their prominence from a distance, we feel like we know them. It allows for a moment to take the attention from our own lives and compare them to others. We often feel adequate or inadequate, all based on the ability of someone who we do not know. Their talent aside does not preclude them from the same faults, failures and flaws as the rest of us.


In fact, their temptations are maybe greater. I often laugh at the notion when people suggest that if they had the celebrity status or a certain income bracket then they would not behave in a certain manner.


The truth is, the more you have the more it brings out who you really are because of the access to be who you really want to be.


In other words, being famous or rich will not exclude one from the same temptations as everyone else. It is about time that athletes and celebrities understand this, but more importantly, it is time for the masses to come to this realization.


Tiger Woods is not immune to temptations. In no way does he get a pass for what has taken place. But the quicker he – and we – understand that he is just a man who plays golf very well, the easier it will be for all of us to offer forgiveness, while remembering that he must suffer the consequences for his actions whatever they may be.


Ultimately the lesson for all of us is it is not what we do that makes us who we are, it is who we are that makes us do what we do.


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