Focus On The Family: Tiger Woods Takes Leave of Absence

Dunno if it’s legally astute to admit adultery (from a divorce/custody/alimony standpoint), but then again, how wise was it for Tiger to give babes on the road his cell phone #? At any rate, the PGA’s meal ticket is going to cool his heels and take care of home:

Or so he says. Though the priorities Tiger states he is concerned with do require time away from the spotlight, the language on his website evokes the very “love being in the fishbowl as long as the attention’s not negative” hubris that helped get him in this familial and commercial mess. Talk of “…safe haven…” and “…privacy for my family…”. Dude, you had dalliances with women who, for the most part, might earn Playboy centerfolds, tabloid interview ducats, and reality show gigs from their alleged association with you. You couldn’t have had privacy as a priority if you risked family, public image, and moolah for that- whether they were soulmates or one-night-stands. And most p.r. pros and spin doctors agree that whether this step is right or misguided, Camp El Tigre took too long to make it.

I have a difficult time believing the hiatus is motivated by a desire to heal marital wounds and soul search. Given what some of the allegations imply about Tiger’s carelessness and sense of impunity, and his choice of words since the story (and the Escalade window) broke, I suspect he is taking the time in hopes the story will loses it legs. In that spirit, he strikes me as a man more upset about being caught than being unfaithful.

I’m no sexual prude or moralist. When you remove the legal elements and reduce monogamy to a social construct and not a biblical one, commitment means and demands different things of different psyches. The genders are even raised differently as regards to societal feeling concerning promiscuous men (playboys) and women (homewreckers and worse terms). I’m not defending anyone, but it takes a heap of testosterone to whack a golf ball 320 yards with accuracy, put on the kind of muscle Woods added when he began weight training in earnest before age 30, and get as teed off as he appears when he spurts expletives after a distraction or misplaced shot. He is a man. A young man. Throw in a billion bucks, a busy travel schedule, and my hunch that the reason such an eligible bachelor married at all around age 28, is that he was very close to his father, and wanted to start a family, and you have a recipe for mixed emotions and conflicting desires. The problem in today’s society is not that prominent men have just begun cheating on their wives, it’s that men in high places, from disgraced Congressman Mark Foley, to former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, to candidate John Edwards, share a nature that has not caught up with the digital age. Surveillance cameras, text message logs, e-mail, cell phone cameras, gossip blogs, and paparazzi are like hazards on a golf course. There are more ways for one to find one’s self in Tiger’s (Nike) shoes than ever before. Discretion was always the better part of valor, now it’s not only tantamount, but the technology demands it.

If the Kennedy assassination had occurred under 2009 circumstances, we’d have video evidence as to whom the shooter or shooters were.

While Nike is standing by its $20 million man, Accenture, Tag watches, Gatorade, Gillette, and AT & T are taking second looks at the hole distance, the lie, and the direction in which the wind is blowing. If he so chooses, Tiger will get the All-American mulligan, the second chance accorded President Clinton, Kobe Bryant, and to some extent Michael Vick. Makes good copy, helps folks feel forgiving, and puts dollars back in PGA and sponsors’ pockets. The question is, will he learn much from all this? One also wonders how scandalous the story would be were the women who were coming forward Black women.

Brand Woods is (or was, until after Thanksgiving) family-oriented, comfortable expressing deep love for dad, focused, clean cut, and racially ambiguous. The latter may have been more self-definition that national or global perception (see “Zoeller, Fuzzy” and “threats, death”), but race is a social construct in any case. Terms such as colored, grifo, mestizo, creole, biracial, and Asian are applied by people in specific cultures, to specific others- who if geographically transplanted might otherwise be mistaken for, called, or self-proclaimed mulata, Panamanian, East Indian, Black, or Cape Verdean. If the cat says he’s cablinasian, that’s what his DNA and geneaology dictate to his conscience, and he’s claiming all of it. What some Americans see however, through the prism of history, and the anxiety that inspired the Harold Ford “Playboy” campaign ad, is a preppy Black dude whose tactlessness regarding his sex life, has made him the latest in a long line of athletes whose careers ran into scandal. “Magic” Johnson, O.J., Charles Barkley, Kobe, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Isaih Thomas, Steve McNair, and now the man whose father’s interview projections concerning his eventual global impact led columnists to label him “The Chosen One” (LeBron, are you listening?). Sure, porn star Holly Sampson, she of the supposed bachelor party romp in the hay, said in her vid on the Naughty America website, “…he’s  like the whitest Black boy you ever met…” Yet implicit in this observation by the 36-year old (is she young enough to be of a postracial, “I don’t see Obama as Black” mindset?) adult film actress, is a mountain of preconception. Her statement reveals that she thinks most Black boys are not as white as Tiger, or she wouldn’t make the distinction (i.e. Black are white men are different, beyond complexion). It also means she feels Tiger Woods is Black, regardless of what other ethnicities are represented in his gene pool. That is an assessment she shares with Fuzzy Zoeller, EBONY magazine, and in dusk at 40 mph, 95% of the taxi drivers in this country.

Of course, being married to a Swedish blonde has not cost Tiger Woods any endorsement dollars or media coverage, 2009 not being 1965, when public appearances by Swedish actress May Britt and husband Sammy Davis, Jr. were met with picket signs and nasty slurs, and no sponsor would have touched a high profile Negro athlete in such a marriage. Will Sarah Palin’s America (AKA “The Real America”) be as tolerant of a philandering, skirt chasing Woods? Will corporate America? Will the 24-hour news cycle? Unlike Jordan, Kobe and Vick, Tiger Woods is the only Black superstar in his chosen arena. He is also the draw in his sport, while the team sports the others played could survive their respective lapses and absences by sheer dint of numbers (although Jordan was clearly the most analogous to Tiger in terms of significance to his sport, and marketing clout). These salacious headlines, and delayed response couldn’t have come at a worse time. Golf sponsorships at major events had already taken an economic hit due to the post-2007 financial downturn (you know, the one Senator John McCain declared over in September 2008). Woods missed a lot of tour time rehabilitating his knee in 2008. From an athletic standpoint, he should have been sufficiently recovered from that setback to continue his assault on Jack Nicklaus’ lofty record of 18 victories in major tournaments (he’s won 14). He just recently cancelled playing in his own tourney, the Chevron World Challenge (cha-ching, not) And in late January 2010 he was scheduled to play in the tour event at Torrey Pines. Then there’s all that bank the sport, and t.v. execs count on from the Masters (held in April). You see, aside from sex, and race, the third 800-pound gorilla in Tiger’s den is money. By giving his phone number to women whose connection to him should have stayed in Vegas, he violated a cardinal rule of product spokespersons. Don’t share the digits. Leave no paper trail.

Tiger, though powerful, is not at hear much different than millions of American men. We don’t often discuss this in mixed company (mother, are you reading this- I know LeBron isn’t), but um, not many of us would turn down a great looking woman because we’re married or had a girlfriend- if we thought we could keep it a secret. No, most guys can’t fly to Argentina on the public dime a la Governor Mark Sanford, most middle-aged dudes don’t have young interns tripping over themselves to be close to us as did President Clinton, and the majority of us don’t travel as often as Kobe Bryant. Opportunity doesn’t justify action, but men can compartmentalize their lives more easily than most women, American men live in a culture that often glamorizes swinging men, and denigrates similar behavior by women, short term sexual gratification is more appealing to men (for whom sex may serve as a release or respite, and require neither romance, emotional attachment, a stress-free state of mind, or an amorous atmosphere) than women, and no one thinks they will be caught. When unfaithful men tell their wives or girlfriends, “The girl on that business trip didn’t mean anything to me…”, they mean it. Sex can be that removed from consequence, moral compass or sense of loyalty for those for whom it is. Women rightfully feel betrayed, and generally find that since they have committed to said man, he need not go outside the relationship to seek any needs- carnal, empathetic, or varietal. Tiger’s no exception- he proves the rule. We’re only discussing him because he’s famous. People who feel he wouldn’t have gone down this course if his father were alive, can’t read a calendar. Fellow PGA tour members who have rushed to judge him, may not be as popular with the hostess/model set. Others who have publicly chastised him, are either idealistic, clueless about the universe in which he travels, or have never been a guy (forget being a guy, some things I’ve heard my women friends say in expression of disappointment about Eliot Spitzer or John Edwards, only remind me they’ve never really heard the things men say about women, sexual “conquests”, and female physical attributes when there are no ladies present- if they had, the degree of surprise or letdown would be measured, if present at all). Tiger didn’t feel anyone would learn of his closet life, he can’t get pregnant, no one’s gonna call him the “s” word, and like a lot of us, he can separate aspects of his life into little compartments. Jackie Kennedy, in exasperation or realism, said all married men cheat on their wives. Do they really? No one knows all men, but of course they don’t. Are men wired differently than women, hormonally different, and capable of viewing sexual intercourse in a way most women would find problematic?

Can Tiger putt?



One thought on “Focus On The Family: Tiger Woods Takes Leave of Absence

  1. Pingback: News Flash to Vanity Fair: Tiger Woods Is A Black Dude « POP CULTURE

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