I admit it. I joined in on all the jokes about Tiger Woods’ “transgressions.” I think I needed to laugh to overcome the absurdity of a hero who has fallen so far, so fast. He was not just a sports superstar, he was an icon. Now he is just human.
I stopped laughing at the jokes when I saw a picture of him with his kids, knowing that they will read all this “press” 10 years from now and know every sordid detail about their dad’s weaknesses. Yeah… I joined the media feeding frenzy and now I feel bad about it.
There’s plenty of amateur analysis going on in the aftermath. Was Tiger like a child star with an overbearing parent? As soon as his dad passed away, did he go a little wild and revert to being a child? Do money and power corrupt absolutely? Was his marriage just a publicity stunt, carefully crafted to increase his endorsement earning potential?
The Tiger on the Accenture billboards and Wheaties boxes is indeed a powerful brand. The Tiger behind closed doors in his own home is someone we really don’t know. Here was an apparently happy and beautiful couple with serious marital problems. Obviously, money can’t buy you love… or common sense… or peace.
With the speed that media is captured, manufactured and distributed these days, the line between business and personal personas will be blurry. The line between reality and fantasy will be blurry. And the line between admiring a hero’s image and tearing down the person is a thin one, and I for one am sorry I crossed it.
As you look up to celebrities, politicians and sports heroes, remember that you are looking at what has been carefully selected for you. Believe me, I have done enough PR work in my day to know that you can put a positive spin on anything. You do this mostly by omitting unfavorable details and shifting the audience’s view toward something good.
We should teach our kids about this reality check – that what you see on TV or Youtube is carefully edited and does not include all the facts. Everyone struggles with happiness, everyone makes mistakes, and true heroism comes from helping others, not helping ourselves.
This is the comeback I wish for Tiger… not a triumphant return to the Masters, but triumphant growth as a human being.