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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Post about the Tiger Interviews

I tried, but I just can't let this one go. I have to comment.

Tiger finally gave an interview. Two, actually -- one with ESPN, one with TGC. Each was about five minutes long. Since then, everybody, their brothers and sisters, and their dogs have been posting about them. (No cats have posted, that I've seen. I'm not anti-cat; it's just that cats don't give a rip about the whole Tiger thing. Open them a can of tuna, they're fine.) Nobody seems to agree on what to make of the interviews, which is fine, but something really bothers me about this.

The people who seem to be the angriest are the people who say Tiger doesn't owe them an explanation. They're pissed off that Tiger put a 5-minute limit on the interviews, and they're pissed off that he didn't really say anything new. If he was really sorry, he'd tell us every little detail of the whole sordid affair, dammit, and if he won't tell, it just proves he's still hiding the truth. And while we're at it, he's getting off too easy, dammit! He makes a few vague statements and expects that to be enough. Tiger Woods always gets special treatment. How can he say he didn't know he was acting that bad? He isn't really sorry. Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT!

I won't argue with any of you about that. Tiger does get special treatment, just like every celebrity (in the most general use of the word) on the planet. Fair or not, it's kind of a trade-off for not having anything resembling a normal life. Celebrities are always given special privileges, extra perks, and just general bootlicking that "regular" folks like you and me don't get. I'm not going to get in a debate over whether that's right or wrong... it simply is.

What I want to comment on is something I have noticed about humans in general. If Tiger falls into that category, I suppose it applies to him as well.

All of us have heard of "them." You know, that nameless "they" who are always espousing great truths that are always true about everybody: "Well, you know what they say..." Fortunately, on occasion, they actually know what they're talking about. One of the things I always heard was that "the easiest person to fool is yourself." The technical term is self-justification -- the idea that we can always find a reason why what we did was not only reasonable and explanable, but expected... and even ok. All of us have experienced it in some way or form; how many of us, when confronted by someone about something bad we did, said "I don't know why I did it; it didn't seem that important"? How many times have you looked back at something bad you did and said "I can't believe I did that"? (BTW, Tiger said that himself in the ESPN interview.)

You know, sometimes we even feel ashamed at what we did. Granted, shame seems to be a lost emotion these days; I'm not even sure most of us recognize it when we see it. But when we do feel shame, we avoid talking about the cause of it as much as possible. Of course, most of us don't screw up in front of 6 billion people. I don't even want to think about what that must feel like!

I'm not defending Tiger... I'm just beginning to wonder if he hasn't become a scapegoat for all the things we hate in ourselves. Short of being a rapist or a murderer, there's a good chance we can make ourselves feel better about our own failings if we can bash Tiger -- the "can't fail kid" who seemed so perfect but turned out to be so human. We would never be that bad, would we? And we can condescendingly remark that we would probably do the same in the same situation, just because we're so sure we can't end up in the same situation.

I know some will argue that Tiger knowingly created a perfect image that was a lie. But let me remind you that "images" are what modern media is all about. The nightly newscast that wants you to believe it broadcasts "unbiased reporting"? Every news organization has a bias; but they cultivate an equally false image, rather than saying upfront that they have their own agenda. Do you really believe you know all those other celebrities you see on TV and in movies? Just adding a camera to a situation changes it... unless the participants don't know it's there, and then you have legal problems! No matter how honest people try to be, media adds distortion because everybody acts differently when someone is watching; to believe otherwise is just self-delusion and not much different from what Tiger did to himself.

And speaking of the Self-Deluded One himself... I don't condone what he did in any way, shape, or form. But it sounds to me like he's making progress, and I hope it continues. I hope Elin finds it in her heart to forgive him, and they manage to build a healthy family life. I still maintain that we'll learn about the true character of Tiger Woods by seeing where he goes from here. I hope, somewhere along the way, people will realize that Tiger is actually a typical human being, capable of both incredible good and incredible evil... just like the rest of us.

And just for the record, I watched Jim Furyk win the Transitions Championship. I knew that, with two 5-minute interviews on two channels, I'd be able to watch Tiger's interviews 24 times an hour until the Masters. If Tiger doesn't owe you an apology, then why be so anxious to hear what he says next?

Just a thought...

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