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On Friday, Tiger Woods, one of my favorite athletes/celebrities of al time issued an apology for his affair. In fact, I'd say Tiger is my favorite athlete of all time. I, rather hastily, posted that I was "not impressed" by his apology- probably a poor choice of words on my part. As I said in an earlier post, I think there are some valuable lessons for all of us to learn from Tiger's unfortunate situation- Why Tiger's Downfall Is A Good Thing Anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger. We're going to learn from someone's mistakes. It's better and less painful if we can learn from others' mistakes. In the case of Tiger Woods, while he's learning from his mistakes, we have an opportunity to do the same.
I want to make this very clear though. I am not "judging" Tiger. I am not angry with Tiger. I want to see Tiger "restored". I want to see Tiger back better and stronger than ever. I want to see Tiger happy. I've been watching Tiger since he was 13. I've been on the golf course with Tiger and seen him hit one of those monster drives. I am a fan.
I want to clarify my earlier remark about Tiger's apology not "impressing me". It's not that Tiger needed to say the right words to gain my forgiveness. Tiger's done nothing personally to me and there is nothing for me to forgive him for. Sure, I'm disappointed in him, but for him not for me. I don't think he yet truly appreciates how much his behavior has impacted his fans, his family, his wife, his kids and his legacy. I think Tiger is still compartmentalizing, still controlling, still wanting to have things in just his own way. While he took the blame for the affairs, he doesn't seem to want to see that that's what has led to the media circus that now engulfs his wife and his kids. In that sense, I don't think Tiger really gets how truly interdependent we all are.
When a man has an adulterous affair, it's not just his own business. When we are in a family everything we do has a real and direct impact on those in the family with us. When you have kids, an affair is not just cheating on your wife, it's cheating on your kids. When you are a public figure you can multiple this effect. Tiger, when he had his affairs, was not only putting his own reputation at risk, he was putting his wife's and his kids' emotional well being at risk. I understand why Tiger pleaded for the press to leave his wife and kids out of this brouhaha. But, unfortunately that is not the way it works. Even for us mere mortals, when we screw up it usually hurts someone else close to us. This is something we have to keep in mind as we make our decisions on a day-to-day basis. None of us can do it perfectly. Most of us don't even do it very well. But, part of the path of Buddhism is working to attain that kind of insight- understanding interdependence, karma, action/reaction and making wise decisions. Tiger must have been sleepwalking through his life not to realize the path he was on. Not only did he had an "affair", he was having multiple affairs in such a way that it's not surprising that he got caught, it's amazing he didn't get caught sooner. Obviously, something was missing from his life. It's hard for most of us to imagine that you could be Tiger Woods and need something else. But, clearly he did. Unfortunately, he could not see that grasping for that thing that was missing was perching him precariously over a very long fall- risking almost everything he already had.
Tiger Woods is now learning and teaching us all about interdependence. His actions have cost his family, his business partners, his sponsors (estimates are that some of his sponsor companies have lost billions of dollars in market capitalization over this) and his fans. Some tell us we shouldn't care about our "heroes" or celebrities or put our faith in them. And, they are right. We shouldn't. But, we do. We pay them millions of dollars a year in exchange for being able to live a little vicariously through them. Some parents use them as role models. When they accept that money, they make a social contract with us and when they fail so miserably, they break that contract and we all suffer.
I truly hope that Tiger and Elin can work through their difficulties. He's a fellow human being and I hate seeing any human being suffer. I hope that his kids will one day see how their parents worked through a very difficult time. I hope that Tiger comes back, owns every record there is to own in golf and leaves the kind of legacy he and his father hoped for. I hope that Tiger truly realizes that even though he's the most famous athlete in the world and could buy anything he wants, he still has to live by the rules we all have to live by. I think that his press conference on Friday was a good start on his road to recovery. As much as I miss seeing him on the golf course, I am glad that he is taking time to reflect and hopefully to grow and to learn. I can't wait to see him back though. The Masters wont' be the Masters if he isn't there.
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