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Tiger Woods Press Conference & Buddhism

posted by Douglas Howe

Tiger Woods faced the world through 206 media representatives, multiple television cameras and a host of digital cameras. As anticipated, the questions ranged from his personal life to golf to his personal life to Augusta to his personal life to his competitiveness to his personal life to his chances of winning the first of golf’s majors to, you guessed it, his personal life. (see the whole thing here).
Among his most powerful statements–and the one that most caught my attention–was the degree to which he hinged his this entire escapade on his straying from his Buddhist faith. Further, he ascribed his return to mental and emotional health to his recommitment to his Buddhist mediation practices.
It caught my attention for two dramatic reasons. First, I applaud his boldness and clarity in testifying to the relationship between spirituality and behavior. Second, I was stunned by the degree to which almost no one followed up on it. And I believe I know the main reasons why.
The question that triggered his response went as follows: “Your behavior, personal life before Thanksgiving, do you think it negatively impacted your play on the course at all? Could you have been playing better had you had more discipline in your personal life?”
And his answer was telling: “That’s what I’m working towards each and every day. I meditate religiously again like I used to, going back to my roots with my Buddhism with my mom. I need to do these things the way I used to do it. And unfortunately I got away from that, and I just lost that and unfortunately also lost my life in the process.”
As I said earlier, I applaud his testimonial to faith. I found it curious, though, that his words were essentially ignored by the interviewers. Not one of these elite credentialed reporters asked him a follow-up question about what he named as the primary reason for his demise and his potential comeback.
Where were questions such as “Why didn’t your faith keep you from going down this path?” “Why didn’t your faith fulfill you enough not to go straying elsewhere?” “Are you saying that meditating is the thing that grounds you and keeps you focused on family and your other priorities?” “Are you saying that mediation helps you hit a golf ball straighter?”


I mean, could you imagine Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire mentioning faith as the reason they strayed into steroids and having been welcomed back to the majors? Could you imagine some of the NBA or NFL players who’ve been brought up on weapons chargers simply saying that they’d strayed from their faith, while the league’s welcomed them back freely.
I think the media didn’t follow up for two reasons. First, they’re not sure how to. They’re trained in matters of sport, not faith. They really don’t know what to do with evangelicals, either, but they usually are more cynical towards them. Second, I think every golf beat writer in the country is glad Tiger is back. I mean, who would want to cover basketball without Kobe or LeBron? Who would want to cover the Yankees without A-Rod or Derek Jeter? It’s better for ratings, better for the sport’s finances, better for golf-lovers. More exciting as a job.
But not better for those who want to hear more about how faith and spirituality impacts life, especially in challenging times. That’s what I think. If you’re curious you can read the entire transcript here.



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