Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger, Tiger, burning...too bright?

Early this afternoon, I watched Tiger Woods prepare for his first shot at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. It wasn't exactly my choice. My mom was in the same room and wanted me to turn it to ESPN to watch, so what could I do?

It seemed like EVERYBODY wanted to watch that. Some call it the second chapter of Tiger Woods' career. You'd think the way some have inflated this event, it ought to be called the second coming of Tiger Woods. The guy might as well be Jesus, the way people follow each and every little detail about a man who is both the greatest golfer of his generation and celebrity superstar. That in spite of the little fact that ALL HE DOES THAT'S NOTEWORTHY IS FRIGGIN' GOLF!

I reached my saturation point for Tigermania LONG ago, back when they made a big deal that this was a black guy who was all but conquering a supposed 'white man's game'. But Tiger is so damn good at golf he went beyond any political correct bullshit. It got to the point where it seemed like he could do no wrong...that all he touched turned to gold. But again, all he does is play golf. It's not like he's could shape world events, like President Obama. He's a sports celebrity. But Tiger's celebrity far eclipsed his chosen sport long ago, as well. He isn't just someone to be admired because he's so damn good, he's become virtually exalted. He's become a personality for others to worship.

That can make a fall from grace all the more painful.

When I'd heard of his extramarital scandal, my first thought was that it seemed out of character for Tiger to do something so damn stupid. He has a beautiful wife and family, and I thought by default that everything was cool with his personal life. I also had to think, why is all of this 'news'? Again, he's a golfer -- a great one, one must admit -- but his scandal was subject to more analysis and coverage than the earthquake in Haiti! How am I in a world where a sports celebrity's personal life is more important than a major world event?

I'll be damned if I know how.

This is my world, though, and I gotta live in it. Fine, a golfer is center stage in the American consciousness. Whatever. But let's focus a little, okay? Let's not get stupid if we can't help but be obsessed.

I have to ask that -- maybe plead that -- because of a FOX Sports article I chance upon online about a week ago. Jason Whitlock reported about a Vanity Fair expose of Tiger, and the one responsible for this airing out is of a disgruntled lawyer who once worked for the golfer. I won't dignify him by saying his name here, but he claimed to try to be Tiger's advisor to avoid doing something dumb, like stepping into the deep shit of a scandal. This advisor who claimed to have the celebrity sports pro's best interests at heart said that Tiger was unwise to follow the example of sports celebrities like Michael Jordon and dive into excess and sin.

Jason Whitlock all but said 'bullshit' to such statements, and rightly so...he said it was "silly, naive and dishonest." But then Jason went on to say that the one who's really to blame is Tiger's late father, Earl Woods. Instead of raising a good man with strong values, Earl sabatoged the process from minute one with his own bad influence as a chronic womanizer...not only that, he was on record declaring Tiger would 'change the course of humanity' be a superstar and gain every imaginable glory and indulgence accordingly.

Maybe Jason had a point...but he was also wrong.

And again, let's not get stupid. Blaming anyone else for Tiger Woods' fall from grace is useless, because in the end there's only one person to blame for his cheating on his wife with more than one mistress. Even though such things have no right to be 'news'. The only one who's at fault for what Tiger did is Tiger himself. No one else can ultimately take credit for his being a great golfer, right? Trying to blame someone else for what a person does wrong is denying that person any responsibility for himself and his own actions, first and last. If you're going to worship anyone, at least we can do it with some intelligence and give both credit AND blame where it's rightfully due.

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