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Tiger Woods: A Contrarian View

The whole notion of 'role models,' especially in the ranks of professional athletes, is naïve.

3:49 PM, Feb 22, 2010 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
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I don't know whether it's age or climate change, but the Tiger Woods Crisis has left me in a mystified state. I say this as a non-golfer who follows the pop cultural news with some fidelity. But both Woods' televised statement of apology -- for which the networks interrupted their scheduled programming last Friday -- and the near-universal consensus that he wasn't sufficiently contrite, leave me in what appears to be a minority of one.

Tiger Woods: A Contrarian View

We know that Tiger Woods is a famous golfer who has made untold millions of dollars playing golf and 'endorsing' commercial products; we also know that he married a Swedish fashion model some years ago, and is the father of two children. We have since learned that, between tournaments, endorsements, and episodes of domestic bliss, he seems also to have spent considerable time in the company of innumerable porn stars, prostitutes, good-time gals, and the like--nineteen, at last count.

I agree that this was unseemly behavior, a betrayal of his (presumed) marital vows to Mrs. Woods and his responsibilities as a father; but is it any business of mine? It seems to me that this is a matter between Mr. and Mrs. Woods. So far as I know he did not violate any laws, or misuse taxpayer funds; Tiger Woods is a professional golfer, not a public servant or archbishop. I doubt that people watch him play golf because they admire his character, or approve of his marriage and family life; and if people are naïve enough to choose an after-shave, or invest in a pair of shoes, because Tiger Woods has a pretty wife and two nice children, then caveat emptor.

It is always dangerous to mix admiration for athletic skills with faith in the moral character of the athlete in question: One's ability to run, throw, slide, swing, or punch has little or nothing to do with one's intellect, or the substance of one's inner life. On the few occasions when I have seen Tiger Woods play golf it did not occur to me to speculate whether he is Buddhist or Christian, or likes to have fun with porn stars in hotel rooms. If he owes anyone an apology for his misbehavior, it is his wife and children -- and, perhaps, his close friends and associates. The whole notion of 'role models,' especially in the ranks of professional athletes, is naïve, as we have learned dozens of times. And the debate over Woods's public apology will evaporate the minute he resumes playing golf for money, as he will.

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