Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The Bigger They Are (Or Think They Are)...
Long before Tiger Woods ascended to the top of the golf mountain and became one of the most dominant and well-known golfers of all time, his father was already anointing him as a force that would not only change the golf world, but the world in general. I dare to ask if the seeds that ultimately led to Tiger’s fall from grace were planted a long time ago. Tiger’s quest for popularity certainly played a role in his fall, but was the way he was raised also a contributing factor, and could it have prevented his womanizing ways?
Back in 1996, Sports Illustrated talked with Woods’ father about young Tiger’s potential not only as a golfer but his role in the grander scheme of things. Here’s what Woods Sr. had to say,
"Please forgive me...but sometimes I get very emotional...when I talk about my son.... My heart...fills with so...much...joy...when I realize...that this young man...is going to be able...to help so many people.... He will transcend this game...and bring to the world...a humanitarianism...which has never been known before. The world will be a better place to live in...by virtue of his existence...and his presence.... I acknowledge only a small part in that...in that I know that I was personally selected by God himself...to nurture this young man...and bring him to the point where he can make his contribution to humanity.... This is my treasure.... Please accept it...and use it wisely.... Thank you."
Notice the words that Tiger’s father uses to describe his son. He claims Tiger will “transcend this game”, be a “humanitarian” and that the world will be “a better place to live in” when (not if) his son reaches golf immortality. I wonder if Woods Sr. preached this same sermon to a young Tiger growing up. If these words were reinforced repeatedly, and Tiger grew up thinking and believing he was indeed the Chosen One or Golf’s Savior, could he have bought into the God Complex that his father was espousing? Could this behavior have led Tiger to develop the more narcissistic tendencies that ultimately caused him to go down the path of infidelity? Did Tiger’s family overtly or subtly reinforce notions of entitlement within their son?
On the flip side, I wonder what would have happened to Tiger if Woods Sr. was still alive. Would Tiger’s father have used the same words he used above to steer Tiger clear of his ultimately womanizing ways? Perhaps he would have reinforced the idea that Tiger’s potential to be the greatest golfer of all time and an international celebrity meant he needed to rise above the needs and desires of the average person. In Woods Sr.’s eyes perhaps that meant that Tiger needed to be “better” than everyone else not only physically, mentally, and spiritually, but also morally.
Though these questions cannot be definitively answered, it is interesting to note that after Tiger’s indiscretions came to light, many of his “close” friends had commented that throughout college and his days as a bachelor, Tiger had a roving eye and a penchant for young, cute girls, blonde ones in particular.
Many hoped and believed that Tiger would be immune to the temptations and pitfalls that went along with being not only an international sports star, but a celebrity as well. Wasn’t he the Chosen One after all? Before all of his affairs came to light, Tiger had carefully crafted an image of a devoted family man and intense, driven athlete.
While there’s little doubt that Tiger will eventually return triumphantly to the golf course and win many more titles, it remains to be seen if the public will ultimately embrace Tiger like they did before this incident occurred. Unfortunately all we can do is wonder if this all could have been avoided if Papa Woods was still around to guide his “Chosen” son.
Tiger Woods image courtesy of news.yahoo.com