Tiger: Okay, Now Can We Let Him Alone?
(A large part of this I wrote several hours ago, with a few revisions…)
What made me jump on his side was his admission that he felt that he had to sample all the
jumpoffs candies in the proverbial sampler. Forget the idea that they are chocolate-colored, just focus on the variety and the quantity. That’s the point I want to make. That he felt “entitled,” because of all of his hard work in making himself Tiger Woods.
I thought that he was rather repetitive at times, but I understand what he was attempting to do: be sincere, and be real. Whatever that means for him. I think he achieved that for his fans, for the sport, and for his personal friends. And especially for his corporate sponsors–those that are left, that is.
I don’t believe, however, his contention that Elin never struck him that night. I think something did happen. I do believe that there has not been domestic violence in his marriage. If he wants to protect his wife from her going off that night, fine by me. But I don’t know how many times I have say this; in doing it his way, the guy screwed himself up mightily in the public eye by not doing a Letterman. He didn’t reckon on TMZ, the merciless online stalkerazzi tabloid with whom he was most upset at for stalking his mother, wife and children.
What gets me is that this occasion was deemed as important and as earth-shaking as an address by the president of these United States. He’s a celebrity, not a politician or a public servant. And even then, their marital problems are not our business, either. It reminds me a bit of O.J.–that T.V. circus of a trial. In the same way, Tiger is being hung out to dry and made to do what O.J. never did: beg pardon in the clubhouse for his crimes, which were marital, and not murderous. And it makes me shake my head. The media have got to do better than this. I get it, but I don’t get it. Because in the final analysis, if Tiger had merely been Joe Blow out in the sticks, we wouldn’t be hearing about this at all.
There are more pressing things to worry about than Tiger’s marital woes.
We’ve got people, nutty Americans, who crash small planes into IRS office buildings because they’re pissed that they can’t take advantage of a tax loophole. Kids are illegally viewed at home and elsewhere, without their parents’ permission, with a built-in video cam in their high school laptops in Pennsylvania; it’s unclear whether and which administrators or teachers will be be accused of gazing at their nubile charges, male or female, in a clear civil rights violation. Haitians are anticipating another disaster because there’s no place to take shelter as the rainy season approaches in 60 days. Greece is about to cash in its chips financially; this week, some of its more radical citizens exploded a small bomb at a financial institution just to let folks know that they ain’t having it from the international banks, particularly Goldman Sachs, and that there may be more to follow. They’re currently being prepared for the IMF, usually known for playing to tune for Third World countries. If Iceland goes along the same route after teetering in 2008, Europe may fall like dominoes.
If that doesn’t shake one about the seriousness of what is actually going on, we’ve got broken law enforcement as well as a broken government. We have a law enforcement agency that allows a white girl who shot to death her gifted college-age brother to get away with it through the intervention of her parents, who had the requisite pull. In the intervening 20 years, she may have concocted a pipe bomb to threaten a professor who oversaw her work at Harvard with whom she did not agree; yelled and punched at a woman in a restaurant who got to a high chair booster before she did. And just recently, she has shot in the head at point-blank range professors of color who helped to deny her tenure because she was ill-equipped, in their opinion, to teach.
(One would think that with a Harvard diploma, she could go practically anywhere other than a state university. Why wasn’t she elsewhere other than UA-Huntsville if she was so damn superior? Something tells me a few well-placed letters in her file were enough to keep her from going further into that rarefied world. Her overweening, fatal grandiosity–and most probably racism, too–dictated that she was better than the faculty members at a Southern institution, and that she could do no wrong, and that she would get tenure. Maybe even a chairmanship.
And yet, she did wrong, both professionally and once again, criminally. As she was led out to be driven off to jail, she was overheard insisting that the people she shot were actually alive. Did she think that they were playing possum, and trying to get her arrested for nothing? For Amy Bishop, people who disagreed with her or were above her, or were demonstrably better than she was were always at fault, and for that, they had to die.)
On the other hand, we’ve got the dead bodies of Oscar Grant and Sean Bell and countless others who are shot to death needlessly by cops because they happened to be black, and in the wrong place with the wrong cops at the wrong time. And their previous activities–if any–are always thrown at them in the media to show that they deserved to be shot down like dogs in the street. The dead cannot defend themselves, of course, and their families cannot even afford a bullhorn. And, like one TV commentator said during Katrina, they are so black.
To get back to Tiger; I don’t know whether he’ll ever be in recovery from sex addiction. To help him beat that addiction spiritually, he spoke of returning to the tenets of Theravada Buddhism, which proliferates in Southeast Asia, and how it teaches about the extinguishing of desire. I smiled when he said that. Well, my sect of Mahayana Buddhism teaches that desire can never be extinguished–it is what makes us human. Its worst manifestations, however, can be regulated. “Earthly desires are enlightenment,” wrote Nichiren. They are grist for the mill in making us happier and stronger. If Tiger thinks, with his strong sex drive, that he can extinguish thoughts, words and actions (otherwise known as creating karma) when it comes to maintaining his marriage, he’s got another thing coming. Elin might as well be married to a monk–another extreme, and that is not what I think she wants, either.
As I said previously, there have been reports that he is strenuously resisting the sex therapy, because he really believes there is nothing wrong with him at all, hence the sense of “entitlement.” Then again, it doesn’t explain all the jumpoffs if he isn’t a sex addict. A couple of women I could see, even four or five over a period of time, but the count appears to run towards 18 holes of golf, as some wags put it. Tiger blames no one but himself, but the names Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley come up frequently as mentors, friends, and advisors in misbehavior and narcissism.
But he will grow up. He has to. Slowly and painfully. He has to say goodbye to all that mess. It’s gone.
Not gone yet is golf. I think that he will return to the game. He may lose before he wins a tourney; that’s okay, too. It’s not the game that has helped to create his problems. The game of golf is like money; it isn’t conservative or liberal, straight-laced or hedonistic; it’s the people and the business in and around the game that make it what it is. From some nascent golfers interviewed tonight on ABC News, one would think that he had killed someone and deserved to be hauled off to jail.
I agree with Tiger that the resumption of his marriage with Elin is between him and her, but even that is in doubt. That woman has every right to feel as she does. She’s entitled. However, he cannot turn the clock back from that Thanksgiving weekend. His business is all out in the street, not hidden in the house or in a hotel suite. And insisting on his privacy since then is like a kind of grandiosity in itself, that he could do no wrong, when he has. The incident stripped away the veneer of Tiger’s life. What is left? What will he build? And what materials will he use? What will he be like?
Let him alone, and give him time to find out how.