Dan K. Thomasson: Tiger Woods wants us to "believe" in him again, a rather presumptuous request if for no other reason than it assumes we ever did. "Believing" in someone or something is usually reserved for a deity or one's relatives or a political philosophy or a religion but hardly for one whose celebrity is derived from striking a little white ball with a stick. Believing is far more important than forgiving.
Tiger Woods wants us to "believe" in him again, a rather presumptuous request if for no other reason than it assumes we ever did. "Believing" in someone or something is usually reserved for a deity or one's relatives or a political philosophy or a religion but hardly for one whose celebrity is derived from striking a little white ball with a stick. Believing is far more important than forgiving.
At the risk of hitting the ball and dragging Tiger as the old joke goes, let's analyze what "believing" in this case might amount to.
Should we believe that he is the greatest golfer in the history of the grand and ancient game and that it would be irrevocably damaged economically without him? There is little doubt that his over-the top-popularity is a financial boon hard to replace. But public adoration is fickle and he may never be the draw he was.
As for him being the greatest in history, that takes in a lot of territory including players who never had his advantages, equipment or refined courses. Sam Snead learned the sweetest swing in golf by hitting rocks with a hickory stick back in West Virginia. Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson struggled to eat as kids by carrying someone else's clubs and overcame the Depression, a world war hiatus and, in Hogan's case, a devastating car accident to persevere.
Well, should we believe he is the world's greatest athlete, as some often label him? Don't be silly. First off that presumes that golf requires great athletic skill in addition to practice early and often. As one whose family has had a relatively close association with the game since the 1920s it is easy to attest firsthand to the fallacy of that claim. My father played well and my brother plays exceedingly so. Neither could be called an athlete. On the other hand I was a three-letter athlete whose golf game is mediocre at best.
Perhaps we should believe that he is a legitimate model for millions of children and many adults or that he really cares about all those adoring throngs? His actions -- some adult fun until his wife caught him -- have taken care of this manufactured myth rather handily. It is a role in which he never has been very comfortable as his almost arrogant insistence on privacy and his aloofness on the course attest.
But that straight-arrow image has produced a wealth that exceeds every other professional game player in history. It is that fact that allows us to poke our noses into his private life and demand an explanation. He cheated on everyone. Otherwise who would care about his peccadilloes?
Should we believe that his endorsement of a product -- outside those directly associated with his profession -- makes it worth buying? The answer to that is obvious.
Should we believe that he is any different than every other celebrity who dashes for the rehab center in an effort to blame bad behavior on something outside his or her control? "It's the disease that made me do it. I'm sorry and I'm going back to the clinic." There seems to be a lot of doubt in medical circles about the effectiveness of treatment for those who are sexually obsessive, a malady from which most males suffer at some time in their lives and from which many never recover.
Few men have the prominence, money, and the adulation of the masses to make the most of this affliction. Woods conceded all these things, citing his own willingness to take advantage of the perks of celebrity. It is an old, old story. To be fair, his overbearing father demanded so much attention to golf he probably had little time to indulge his normal youthful pleasures and fantasies. Like the swimmer Michael Phelps his adolescence manifested itself much later than most.
Finally, should we believe that he is sincere in his all-too wooden, scripted pledge to be a faithful and loving family man more favorably disposed to his fans, of which there may be fewer? Make up your own mind. I'm choosing to believe in something important like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.