Justice Is Served

February 17, 2010 9:12 PM

From the shadows, a Tiger will finally emerge


So, we'll get to hear Tiger Woods speak Friday morning at a golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. I don't know if that's something we should be sitting up late tonight and Thursday waiting for or, I'm thinking, we should simply tune Tiger out the way we have the past three months.

I mean, I can't expect to hear anything revealing come from the man. I know about all I need to know about him. He's a serial adulterer; I know that. Unlike his golf shots, he can't put enough spin on it to put himself in a good position.

Heavy spin simply can't wipe away his infidelity.

Whatever spin he uses shouldn't be wasted on a gullible public anyway. His problem shouldn't be visited on people like me - men and women who have never gotten within a chip shot of the real Tiger persona. To me, he's lived a shadowy life in a world far apart from mine, a world that insulated him from the ordinary people: the beer-and-burger crowd.

Tiger's crowd smoked Montecristo cigars and owed Learjets; mine smoked Marlboro and owed Kawasaki jet skis.

I don't begrudge Tiger for the company he's kept. He had a gift, the ability to hit a golf ball truer than anybody else who ever played the sport.

His gift brought hero-worshippers his way; his gift rewarded him handsomely. It brought him all the trappings of the rich and famous: Tag Heuer watches, the penthouse suite in the Wynn or Bellagio and all the Nike gear he could cram into a Tumi suitcase.  

In a society obsessed with race, his gift also brought Tiger what the harsh reality of his birth couldn't: social acceptance across color lines. For Tiger Woods was a true melting pot of races, a man of color who found doors opening for him that never did for other men and women cursed with dark skin.

But the unraveling of Tiger's fame had zero to do with his skin color and even less to do with his gift. It had everything to do with his decidedly equal-opportunity flaw: suspect character.

He isn't the first athlete to let his johnson serve as his moral compass, and Tiger Woods won't be the last either. Nor will he be the last high-profile athlete who stands in front of the public and ask for its forgiveness.

The public's forgiveness isn't what Tiger Woods needs. He never needed it, because the public had no stake in Tiger's success or failure.

Yes, we might revere the man for those extraordinary gifts on the golf course, but we've come to detest now him for being the worst kind of human -- a human without principles, without ethics and without values.

Unlike some, I never viewed Tiger as a man of substance. To me, he personified greed, something his father Earle surely would have disliked. For Earle Woods had predicted his son would change the world, but any meaningful effect that Woods the younger has had on this global society vanished into thin air once his morality became tabloid fodder.

His public shame drove him underground, outside the paparazzi and their prying cameras. He will be resurfacing Friday, talking about, well ... we can't be certain what he will talk about.

Nor can we be sure what Tiger will be now. Will that smugness and arrogance that scarred his personality still be there for public consumption? Will he be contrite, apologetic and eager to make amends? Will his wife Elin be standing tall beside her billion-dollar baby? Will he open their private hell to people who, once you think about it, have no right to see it?

His legion of faithful should insist on it, though. They have always looked and longed to know more about Tiger Woods, and they are awaiting his return from the shadows - his first public discussion of his infidelity and his treatment for sex addiction.

After Tiger dispenses with those two unsettling topics Friday, he can address the only topic that, sadly, people want to hear him talk about: the date he's returning to the PGA Tour.

In the end, that's all they've really cared about.





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