The public confession and self-abasement of Tiger Woods last week was one of the weirdest, creepy-crawly spectacles I can remember. What in the world does it say about our culture (do we want to know)? In front of an assemblage of friends, family, and golfing associates, with multiple, overlapping TV coverage coast-to-coast, he announced, “I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. For all that I have done, I am so sorry.”
Woods, a commanding presence on the golf course, appeared in this setting as a small boy forced to apologize for some picayune transgression by an overbearing father. Has it occurred to anyone else to ask why he is discussing this in front of and apologizing to the world at large? If he hadn’t stood up and blabbed about it, scarcely anyone would know what he had done, except it surely had to do with succumbing to the same temptation that nearly all men are subject to, something many, many more of us would be guilty of given the opportunities that fame, fortune, and a billion dollars of net worth create. The springing up of a small army of bimbos to claim a piece of the action, each with a more grotesque boob job than the last, gave the whole affair a comic aspect which would have served Tiger if he had just kept his mouth shut.
That is not to make light of the apparent wrong he has done his wife, and therefore his children, which is nothing to be laughed off. But he did not disappoint me in any way, nor does he owe me or the rest of the world any apology. The notion that he does somehow devalues the debt he must make good to his family.
And what earthly good can it do Elin Woods for her husband to stand up and air their dirty laundry in front of people whose claim on him, if they have any, is much secondary to hers – a fool discussing his folly in front of a pack of fools. What can this accomplish but aggravate the embarrassment and lengthen the time it will take for the whole thing to blow over.
This tacky soap opera is supposed to be about confession, forgiveness, and redemption, I guess. If so, it is a sad commentary on how clueless our media-driven society is about this process. Woods needs only to confess to his wife, and perhaps a priest if he wants a flavor of orthodoxy. Forgiveness, and then atonement, can only be earned over time and with a track record of corrected behavior.
And what on earth has any of this to do with therapy, so much a part of this discussion? What therapy exists that will remove temptation from a wicked world? Do they have specially-rigged Playboy magazines that will give him an electric shock when he cracks the centerfold? The old-fashioned concept is that temptation is defeated by good character and maturity, (and not in every instance), and is far more successfully dealt with by avoidance rather than resistance. What therapy can there be to strengthen character? The notion smacks of some kind of California insurance scam.
Tiger Woods is a golfer, perhaps the best in history. This circus has supposedly jeopardized his career, but I don’t see how unless it keeps him off the golf course a whole lot longer. He is a prodigy of nature because of his uncanny ability with golf sticks not, obviously, for being a monument to virtue. If he owes the world anything it is to get back out on the links and resume winning tournaments. As soon as he does his career will get back on track. And his private life will remain his business, if he will only keep his mouth shut.