Home > Golf > Should we have sympathy for Tiger Woods?

Should we have sympathy for Tiger Woods?

In the Tiger Woods video games one of the player-controlled golfer’s exclamations is “where is the break!?” The man whose name the game bears must be thinking exactly the same. It has been a tough eight or nine months for the world’s number one golfer. When news broke of a car accident near his Florida home last November, few could have imagined the story that was about to unfold. I won’t go in to the ins and outs of it as I am sure you all know them by now, but it basically involves Woods satisfying what was later revealed as a sex addiction with a string of beauties.

His inability to say no has seemingly cost him his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren, with reports this week suggesting that a $200 million divorce settlement is close to being finalised. More importantly, it has probably cost him everyday access to his two young children. Having spoken of the effects his own father’s infidelity had on his family life, Tiger is acutely aware of the lasting damage he has done and it is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

Now I will make it clear at this point that I in no way condone Woods’s actions. He, and only he, is to blame for sleeping with a number of other women. No one made him. No one makes you marry these days and you can live that playboy lifestyle if you so choose, but not if you get married. Woods broke the most important moral code there is and that is unforgiveable. I also have to stress that I feel for his wife. If being cheated on makes you feel inadequate, imagine how it must feel when the whole world knows about it. However, has he deserved the treatment to which he has been subjected?

Tiger Woods is still dealing with the fallout from a string of affairs. (This image is the property of the Daily Mail)

Let’s be honest, Woods has done what millions of people, men and women, do every year so this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, especially in the US. Now this does not make it alright, but these people get to deal with the mess they have caused in their own time and in privacy. The 14 time major winner does not have that luxury. Every move he makes, both on and off the golf course, is scrutinised by fans, fellow players, so-called body language experts and, well, everyone really. ‘Normal’ people who cheat, often still enjoy the support of friends and family and whilst I do not know Tiger’s personal situation, he must surely feel like the whole world has turned against him. When David Beckham reportedly cheated on Victoria, the press inexplicably blamed her, so why is Tiger Woods being treated differently?

Is it because he held his hands up and admitted he has a problem? Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step in addressing it and so Tiger deserves some credit for this. Admitting to the world that you have a sex addiction cannot be easy. Most of us would have difficulty telling our parents. Many of those lambasting the golfer do not know what goes on in his private life and who is to say that they would never do it? If they were faced with the temptation Woods was, would they be able to say no? It is wrong to judge somebody’s life from the outside looking in. We are all guilty of this, but some of what has been written about Woods is out of order. In some social circles (barbaric ones) he would be lauded as a ‘legend’ and ‘hero’ and I dare say that there is an element of envy in the Woods hate campaign.

The problem is that Woods (with the aid of his masterful PR team) perhaps made a rod for his own back when he chose to promote himself as wholesome role model with strong family values and made millions of dollars off the back of this image. His behaviour therefore, is seen as unforgiveable and riddled with hypocrisy. Indeed Woods cashed in to an unbelievable extent on his fame, talent and good looks, reportedly becoming sport’s first billionaire and maybe it is this that people resent. Maybe they feel they have been taken for a ride. The fame and the greenbacks do not however, make it any easier for him to deal with a personal crisis. Whatever the case, Woods knows he has made a monumental error of judgement, one that has cost him his wife, children and millions of dollars, not to mention his reputation and whilst people are right to point out that infidelity is not acceptable and that he deserves no sympathy following his actions, the time has come to let him deal with the mess he has made in privacy and in his own time. He deserves at least that and if he does not, then his wife and children do.

So, does Woods deserve sympathy? No. Are the problems of his own doing? Yes. Should he be allowed to grieve in private? Yes.

The saddest part of the whole saga is that we seem to have forgotten what made Tiger Woods famous; golf. He is one of, if not the, greatest golfer to ever swing a club and whether or not people like to admit it, golf needs Tiger Woods more than Tiger Woods needs golf. The golf world is currently impoverished with Woods clearly a shadow of his former self. The sooner he is allowed to focus on his game, the better for all of us, for there is arguably no finer sight in sport than an on song Tiger prowling the course on day four. Let’s hope we get to see it again soon.

Categories: Golf
  1. Chris
    July 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    So, does Woods deserve sympathy? No. Are the problems of his own doing? Yes. Should he be allowed to grieve in private? NO!

    He wants to be a role model, get paid millions for being a public figure, then he has to deal with bad press along with good press. It’s his own doing.

    An example of a sportsman who doesnt want public attention is Paul Scholes. If he was ever to be hounded by the press over his personal life, then I would deplore it.
    But if someone like Beckham, or Woods, who choose to live and make money off a highly visible public profile, then they deserve what they get.

    • July 6, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      I’ve been thinking about this and I think this is why he has been hammered the way he has. More to point, as it says in the article, I think it is more to do with the way he portrayed himself as a family man of strong moral fibre. People feel they have been duped and they will never react well to that.

      Scholes is an excellent example of the antithesis. He is everything modern sports stars are not.

  2. Superiorraw
    July 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Interesting stance mate, unfortunately it’s not Tiger Woods’s choice anymore. As you said he made his own choices, and knowing that there have been high profile marriage break ups in the past he must of known the main stream media (MSM) would go after him.

    They will of course find all the wrong observers to judge him, as you said there’s a certain element of the green eyed monster with some of them. In an ideal world yes, Tiger Woods would be given a day or so to get crud slung at him from all directions in the tabloids, then as quick as the mud arrived he would be left to get on with it. Sadly this doesn’t happen. Now ever more than before the MSM will be hounding him for every mistake he makes, the PR guys and himself have modelled him on this perfect man and perfect sports player, but he’s now got failings and the MSM will continue to throw crud at him all the more.

    I could write a list of people that have had this happen to them, if a celebrity has a personal problem for example a Nervous Breakdown.. should they be ridiculed? what about a weight problem should that be made a laughing joke in the press, no they are people just as much as us, but we live in a world where it’s become acceptable for MSM to hound the celebrities. It’s distinctly unfair, but what do we do about it? If Tiger’s fans or the world want to help, the best way forward would be to stop buying the papers, stop subscribing to the news channels or even watching them. The reduction in viewing figures and reduction in subscriptions to magazines and sales in newspapers will gradually have them rethink their publication strategy. As the news about Tiger will become less sensational. At the end of the day they still rely on the majority to read their crud. Maybe the majority of the world is just as culpable as the press that print it for ‘wanting to know’

    For the record I’d like to see Tiger back to his best, and i mean that on the golf course nowhere else.

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