First Posted: 12/4/2009
I learned a long time ago that just because a person gains 2,000 yards rushing in a season (O.J. Simpson) or hits 70 home runs (Barry Bonds), it doesnt make him a good person.
Extraordinary athletic prowess wont prevent someone from being an all-around great human being, of course, but its certainly no guarantee that they are such an individual, either.
Too many times, we sports fans have placed certain players on a pedestal, only to painfully realize later that behavior in their private lives does not do justice to their performance on the field, court or course.
Tiger Woods is the latest example of this. Though there is no question about his status as the worlds top golfer, recent disclosures about Woods show that he leaves much to be desired as a human being.
Even before this weeks reports about Woods extramarital affairs with at least two women, there was an arrogance about him that was unsettling. Seeing Woods grimace and curse while lambasting a photographer for daring to shoot a picture as he attempted a putt was perhaps understandable, but something other golfers tend to take in stride.
But with Woods, it has always been like, Hey, you moron, dont you know who I am? How dare you interfere with my greatness by clicking a camera! Never mind the fact that stray noises emanating around the green were simply a reflection of Woods vast popularity and the crowds naturally following him from hole to hole.
Then came events of the past week, which surfaced when the golfer crashed his vehicle into a fire hydrant and tree outside his home on the morning after Thanksgiving. Again, Woods arrogance surfaced when he seemed shocked that anyone would dare question such an incident in the wee hours of the morning, despite one that left him in the street bleeding as the possible victim of (now understandable) domestic violence.
His refusal to talk to the Florida Highway Patrol about the accident on multiple occasions also was disturbing. (How many of us regular folks would dare refuse to discuss such a matter with law enforcement, even though that is strangely not a requirement in Florida?)
Then, as news coverage expanded from there, Woods demanded his space away from public scrutiny, as he failed to realize that fame and fortune often comes with the price of limited privacy especially when such a sensational incident unfolds.
But as is so often the case when some notable person tries to clamp a lid on a situation, it only blew up in his face as others emerged from the woodwork to tell the story he wanted to keep hidden. In Woods case, this has involved women going public about alleged relationships they had with the married golfer, to a beautiful woman, with two children.
One of the many questions surrounding the Tiger Woods story is why a rich athlete wouldnt be satisfied with his fine family and status in the sports and advertising worlds, and seemed so willing risk it all with tawdry affairs.
With the scandal growing with each passing day and dominating more of the public consciousness, Woods finally admitted through his Web site this past week that he has been guilty of transgressions which have greatly harmed his family.
One can suspect that Woods elected to come forward with his admission only after his behavior had been made public by others, representing a lame attempt at damage control.
Yet what if he had held a news conference immediately after the traffic accident, and admitted his wrongdoing that inevitably would be disclosed by SOMEONE?
Assuming his wife still wants to be with him at all, this would have given Woods a chance to be a man, come clean about his affairs and pledge to seek counseling or other remedies to keep such incidents from reoccurring.
The American public has a tremendous capacity for being forgiving and understanding for allowing athletes and other key figures a second chance when theyve made mistakes. But people tend to despise a sneaky liar who refuses to admit his human failings. Just as he might blow a major tournament with a double-bogey on the final hole, Tiger appears to have blown a chance at redemption at least to some fans.
Now, Tiger Woods can only sit back and hear the stories that he should have disclosed up-front, as he becomes the latest public figure to learn the hard way that the cover-up can be worse than the crime.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1924.