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December 18, 2009

Descent and Recovery

Derek Shackelford

The details continue. Great journalists must be really having a difficult time finding quality in this era. Why? The constant bombardment and stream of salacious detail reporting.


It often appears that as a general public we do not long for “real” stories anymore. Our continual fixation with the mundane, the low and the tawdry appears to be evident. For instance, then it was the excursions of Gov. Mark Sanford, of South Carolina; now it is the continuing Tiger Woods saga. It appears that everyone from the major media outlets to conversations at the water cooler conjures up a thought to what is happening to Tiger Woods and what he should do.


The opinions are varied and many. Mr. Woods should do a major press conference and come clean about what is really been happening. He should just do a sit down interview with Oprah, Barbara Walters, or 60 minutes. He should just stand in front of the cameras so we can see his face and he can offer an apology to his legion of fans.


It seems that everyone has an opinion on what Tiger should do. Opinions are easy to offer when it is not our career, our marriage or our image that is on the line. We can make decisions for everyone else but when it comes to making the crucial everyday important decisions for our own lives, how do we fare?


As a public we long for the fall of the celebrity, the famous and the recognized to a large degree. The fall humanizes them. After all, it was we who propelled them to this elevated status. And now it should be our duty to control their fate of how far they fall and how hard they land, or so it appears.


Tiger Woods’ apparent infidelity and apparent fall from grace either does one or two things for us. It makes us take an assessment of our own relationships and what they mean, or it continually deflects the hard truths that we do not like to deal with about ourselves.


Lessons: there are plenty from which we can, or from which those involved can learn. The media could learn a thing or two about serious reporting and what is real news. We, the general public could learn that fame and fortune come with a price. That price often includes privacy.


When being visibly recognized it somehow allows everyone into the most private moments of your most guarded places. We could also learn from the standpoint of living that we have more in common with each other than that which separates us.


Yesterday it was Governor Sanford; today it is Tiger Woods; tomorrow it will be someone else. As human beings, we are all subject to the same faults, failures and flaws as everyone else. We all err; we all make mistakes and we all are not perfect, but somehow we want everyone else to be something we are not.


Now this by no means gives Governor Sanford, Tiger Woods or any of us a pass for our mishaps. For when we like to dance, we must soon face the music to which we are dancing. Our sins do have consequences and for every action there is an opposite reaction.


I can not help but find the lessons in this over-reported story of one man’s indiscretions. The same attributes that made Mark Sanford governor and Tiger Woods the world’s greatest golfer are the same attributes that may have caused them to err. The feeling of invincibility for a politician and athlete is enormous. This is what drives them, motivates them and draws them to us. Unfortunately, when it goes unchecked in one’s personal life, it can be a harmful thing. The thought of “it-can-never-happen-to-me” syndrome is something that we all live with. And a funny thing occurs. Just when we think it can’t happen to us, it happens.


Many have left Governor Sanford for the sake of political expediency and as many have gotten off the Tiger Woods’ golf bandwagon. In the last few days some sponsors have distanced themselves from him. Let us be reminded that they are just men. One in fact just plays golf, though he plays it very well.


Some ask the question, how this will affect him on the golf course. No doubt it will. No matter how great he is at playing golf, this reminder needs to be ingrained. He is still human.


Governor Sanford is just human. They can bounce back from all of this. Jenny Sanford can bounce back from this. Elin Nordegren can bounce back from this. It will certainly be difficult for all parties involved.


One thing I know clearly. When a ball drops from 15 feet, it bounces back up. But it is only going to rise up to 12 feet.


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