While the sports world wonders whether or not he will win as he enters the Holy City of Augusta in a few weeks, here are my Top Five Tiger Woods storylines as it relates to his role not as professional golfer but as cultural icon:
Tiger’s Buddhist Faith. I’m wondering if we’re ready to really embrace an inspirational public figure who is outspoken. In the interview with Kelly Tilghman, Tiger said his bracelet was “Buddhist” and that “it’s for protection and strength and I certainly need that.” At times like this, who of us would have issue with someone’s desire for protection and strength? And individually, who of us would have issue with someone else’s faith choice? But as a culture, we’ve not tended to embrace our leaders and stars who’re not of either the Christian or Jewish faith. Hmmmn…
Tiger’s Transparency. His initial statement was political and contrived. But his latest interview was transparent and authentic. That clearly won more people over. Sure, he was coached to give bullet point answers, but I think he’s shown more class and candor in this interview (see it in full here) and I don’t think he really owes us any more. I’m a fan of marriage and hope he and Erin will be able to be reconciled and restored. And I hope they’re given the space and privacy they deserve to do so.
Tiger’s Endorsements. What kind of products and services will Tiger endorse now? I hope he uses the experience he’s been through to speak up for those in need of some of the kind of help he’s received. That would truly be a public service.
Tiger’s Foundation. His charitable non-profit arm has supported wonderful causes. I hope he’ll use this vehicle to truly help those who need the kind of help that isn’t as perhaps as socially acceptable or whose challenges aren’t as pretty.
Tiger’s Profession. Why wasn’t Tiger suspended from the Tour for awhile? There’s been lots of talk about the PGA needing Tiger back to improve its ratings. Wow! When did they become our national charity? John Daly was suspended for issues such as smoking, drinking and domestic abuse charges. Baseball stars from Mickey Mantle to Pete Rose were censured or banned for their gambling issues. Should the steroid guys be allowed to return because attendance goes down? Should the NBA reinstate the thugs who’ve been arrested for violence because their ratings are down? Why does Tiger and the PGA get a pass?
Okay, and then there’ll be a golf tournament also. I’d love to hear your thoughts…