2.23.2010

I Am Tiger Woods, I am Adam


I've lacked the time and interest to watch or read Tiger Woods' infamous public apology, or any of the flurry of commentary that has ensued. But I have visited sports and news sites enough to see the headlines, and can make some general assumptions based on how these things tend to play out, to guess about how it all went done: he said he was sorry, bit his lip a few times, talked about how he felt entitled and now knows he's hurt himself and his family; and sportswriters have picked up where he has left off, to volley back and forth between whether he seemed authentic or packaged, whether we should leave him alone or intensify the scrutiny, whether we should run him out of town or pat him on the back. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm sensing this is how it's all gone down.

If so, then here's my contribution to the conversation: Tiger is despicable. And so am I. And so are all of us.

Well, for the sake of this post, let me just limit my accusations to myself and to my fellow men. For we have all sinned and fallen short of the standard of purity and honesty that we know is best for us and for our reputations and for our families. And those of us for whom upholding this standard is given extra motivation because of our belief in a righteous God and in the authority of His commands are no better at actually living up to that standard. We all have felt entitled, we all have given in to our baser sides, we all have run through moral red lights and acted like we wouldn't get caught and risked permanent damage to our souls and our families in the pursuit of temporary and fleeting gain.

Perhaps our circumstances are different than Tiger's: few of us are as rich, famous, or good-looking as he, and the combination creates a somewhat unique confluence of forces that swirl around his day-to-day life. Perhaps our impulses are different than Tiger's: maybe, if put in his situation, we would fall harder in some areas and not be as tempted in others. But let Tiger's transgressions, his subsequent contrition, and our media and public response to it all not let us off the hook from the fact that we too have our weaknesses, we too commit our costly mistakes, and we too have to deal with repentance and healing and reconciliation.

I do not know as well the perspective of the women, so while I'm not giving them a free pass - I presume women have their own familiar traps, made more dangerous by biology and acculturation, just like men - my words today are exclusively for the men. How much of our lying, cheating, and lusting is hard-wired into us and how much is indoctrinated into us by society makes for an interesting discussion. But ultimately, "the devil made me do it," "everybody's doing it," "nobody got hurt," and "but it feels so right" fall short as justifications for our transgressions. If there is any good we can extract from a mega-star imploding his reputation and his family through his dalliances, it is to be on the alert that, while the spotlight isn't nearly as focused on us, we too need to be mindful of where we have strayed, and to seek restoration where we have harmed others along the way.

Years back, Nike ran an ad series called "I am Tiger Woods." Playing on Tiger's multi-racial background, the series was intended to equalize Tiger with Nike's customer base. I guess that if Mars Blackmon could try to convince us that Michael Jordan's athleticism was due to Nike's shoes, Nike could try this tack again, leading wanna-be golfers to believe they could play like Tiger if they could use the same equipment. We are all indeed Tiger Woods, when it comes to the ways we have acted immorally and brought ruin about ourselves and our loved ones in the process.

Or, to use a familiar Biblical analogy, we are all Adam. Even my kids' version of the temptation of Adam and Eve is deep enough to leave you with a pretty good sense of how that scene went down: the serpent tricked the couple into thinking God was withholding something good from them, God seemed temporarily out of the picture, and Adam and Eve decided they could do better on their own than within the broad confines of the paradise God had created for them. The Bible teaches us that we are all in fact morally descended from Adam. Me, you, and, yes, even Tiger Woods. So if you've been following the spectacle that is Tiger's journey from carefully crafted to outed to vilified, recognize the influences of original sin; and consider how you too have been influenced, how you too are Tiger Woods and Adam.

Post a Comment