Sunday, February 21, 2010
My Sunday Feeling
Unlike some folks I know, I wasn't particularly keen on watching Tiger's much anticipated news conference, especially when I heard that the audience was hand-picked by him and his handlers and that no questions would be taken. Indeed, it was for that very reason that the Golf Writers Association boycotted the event.
I didn't get around to watching it until after work on that day when ESPN showed the entire speech. The opinions concerning same were, predictably, all over the map. Some folks found it disingenuous. Others found it compelling and moving.
Me? I saw a man whose expression and skin color gave the impression of someone with an extreme case of nausea. I saw a prideful man brought low by amazingly foolish and indiscreet behavior. I felt sort of the same about Tiger's speech yesterday as I did about about Bill Clinton's video deposition over the Monica Lewinsky affair. The use of the camera in both cases made the subjects appear almost to be at the other end of a gunsight. And I felt badly for them both although neither had anybody but themselves to blame.
Which Tiger forthrightly acknowledged in no uncertain terms.
Lee Trevino has been quoted recently that Tiger would have been better off had he pulled up a lawn chair in his backyard and told the media the truth from the get-go. But that's not Tiger Woods' style. Apart from competition on the golf course where the law of the jungle obtains, his every image and utterance has been carefully orchestrated.
Sure, the cynical heart that beats within my breast suspects a desire on his part to not only save his marriage but his "brand." The first step, of course, was to minimize the moral dimensions of his acts by blaming it on pathology. No matter what he said yesterday, the moral implications are delimited by blaming it on an addiction. Indeed, there are some who question whether impulsive sexual behavior rises to the level of alcohol or substance abuse. I don't have an opinion on it one way or another. Perhaps it is true that his wife, who mercifully did not attend the speech (I refuse to call it a news conference), insisted upon his entering a treatment facility as a precondition to a possible reconciliation. Perhaps not. We do not know. And it is none of our business.
Driving home last night I listened to the local sports call-in show. Predictably, many of the scholars and theologians checking in were shocked by Tiger's acknowledgement that he intended to return to practicing the Buddhism of his Mother's faith. As one high minded genius pointed out "Praying to Buddha isn't going to do him any good."
Point of order: Buddhists don't pray to Buddha. And Buddhism has many tenets with which Christians would be comfortable such as the condemnation of lying stealing, striving for meaningless things and sexual misconduct. As Woods himself said " (Buddhism) teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint." The Baptist preacher could say the same thing about the Bible.
The nonsense about the relative efficacy of Buddhism to the saving of souls was wisely cut off by the host. After that, the callers were pretty much equally split as to whether he was sincere and whether or not his problems were any of the callers' business.
I have always said about these matters that if the wronged spouse feels led to continue in the marriage after an affair then that is pretty much dispositive of it for me. I still feel that way. But Tiger Woods has an obligation to apologize if for no other reasons than his carefully crafted image as a loving family man and role model for the kids that participate in programs funded by the Tiger Woods Foundation completely evaporated a couple of days after Thanksgiving.
But at the end of the day, Tiger Woods is not a politician or a religious figure that strayed. He's a golfer. And trust me, he is not the only member of the PGA tour that has strayed from his vows. He is just the most spectacular example of it.
Do I believe that he is contrite? I cannot judge his heart. But I have to figure that for a man as prideful and arrogant as Woods-which he also acknowledged-to get up there even under the laboratory conditions imposed by him for the speech and lambaste himself for a quarter hour weighs in favor of a finding of sincerity.
The man at the end of the gunsight looked as if he might puke at any minute during his speech. This was a man brought low.
I believe him. Why not?