(NOTE: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and are not to be construed as the opinion or policy statement of the Optimist Club of Westchester).

A week ago Friday, Tiger Woods stood in front of the nation (the world?) and gave a teary eyed, heartfelt, apology to anyone who could listen for his marital indiscretions and his sex addiction. I said ‘could’ rather than ‘would’ because although I purposely tried to avoid watching or hearing the press conference (I couldn’t give two hoots in Gehenna for such public displays of remorsefulness), it has been publicized, analyzed, and commented on so much, that the other day, while sitting in the kitchen, drinking my “mornin’ joe”, I swear that I heard excerpts of that press conference broadcasting through the toaster! Or maybe I was still ‘coming down’ from the previous evening’s acid trip. In any event: ENOUGH ALREADY!!

It is my understanding that his apology was meant for his family and friends, the golfing establishment, his sponsors, and his fans. Being the über-cynical person that I am, I think that this “apology” was intended more to protect (or recover) his fame and earning potential. The only ones who are really owed an apology are his family and, if he abused those relationships in the course of his indiscretions, his friends. Also, the apology should have been give face-to-face with the affected parties in the privacy of their own homes and perhaps, two months ago.

The rest of the intended recipients of said apology are not entitled to an apology because they were not, or should not have been emotionally affected by Mr. Woods’ actions. For instance:

  • Professional golf: I find it hard to believe that all the people associated with this sport would feel deceived, distraught, or embarrassed by actions of that sport’s superstar. Can it really be that much of a shock when a person, who is lavished with fame, adulation, and fortune, succumbs to the temptations that it brings? I believe that, if I were in his shoes, I would not be able to resist. It has been suggested that the PGA is suffering because of the attention Tiger Woods attracts to events and tournaments. If the PGA’s existence is so dependent on one person, then it needs to either 1) start grooming replacement attractions or 2)close shop because any sport that depends on only one person doesn’t deserve to exist.
  • Sponsors: This is strictly a business arrangement; there is no one to be hurt here except Tiger. Endorsements and promotional contracts were awarded to him because of the profit that sponsors hoped to achieve as a result of Tiger’s popularity. Sponsors now latch on to the opportunity to maintain sales levels and ‘tap-in’ to the perceived moral indignation of the public by dumping Tiger because he ‘doesn’t adhere to the high moral standards that the company stands for’. CACA DEL TORO! I’m certain that if Tiger hit over par in enough tournaments, his ‘highly moral’ sponsors would ‘throw the Tiger to the wolves’ in a New York minute.
  • Fans: I saved this one for last because this is the topic that this article is meant to address. It is natural for people to try to emulate those whom we admire and Tiger Woods definitely has a talent and ability worthy of admiration. Once he leaves the golf course however, he is just a man, like any other man, and his exceptionality doesn’t necessarily extend to his personal life. In fact, as with other popular heroes, we generally don’t know much about that person once they leave the stage where they weave their heroic magic. We place sports, entertainment, and political figures on pedestals and tell our children to be like them yet the real ‘heroes’ are to be found much closer to home. Mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, and close friends: these should be our heroes and heroines. They are the ones who struggle daily to provide and educate our future generations and, in our hearts, we should erect monuments to them. At the same time, we should be mindful that others are looking to see the ‘hero’ in us as well, and act accordingly.

As a boy, my hero was Mickey Mantle (the fact that the number “7” is my favorite number is my testimony to him). In my N.Y. neighborhood, he was every boy’s idol. I didn’t play organized baseball until I moved out of NY but I played stickball every day (and a double-header on Sundays), unless there was snow on the ground, then we played football! Since we didn’t have uniforms, we made our own; usually an old tee shirt. With a laundry marker we would draw the “NY” logo (we definitely didn’t bother to seek the licensing approval of MLB) and obviously the number “7” on the back of the shirt. Everybody had the same shirt! It was as if no other numbers existed. We all wanted to hit, run and catch like “Da Mick”. We didn’t know that he even had a life outside of baseball. I guess we all thought that he slept in his locker until the next day’s game. As I grew older, tales of his ‘off-field’ exploits reached my awareness: Da Mick loved to ‘partay’. And drink. He drank so much that he ended up needing a new liver (see Wikipedia reference) and got one almost immediately, bypassing others who were on the waiting list. His private life was not one to be envied. Now when I think of him, I am reminded of two quotes of his: 1)”If I had known I was going to live this long, I would’ve taken better care of myself” and, 2)”Here’s a role model, don’t be like me”.

Let’s try not to put people on pedestals. We’re all bound to fall; it is part of the human condition. As a result of these falls we learn humility and to seek forgiveness; as a result of our ‘falls’, we also learn to respect and appreciate our place in the grand scheme of the universe.

“…if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” (Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann

If we need heroes, then I suggest we look to a simple carpenter, who so changed the world, that our days are measured in relation to when he appeared.

Dominus vobiscum