The Tiger Woods’ women count is up to 20. That’s the number of women who haven’t gone to bed with the world’s busiest golfer. Until now, I have managed to stay away from this subject. But in many ways, the reaction to Tiger’s fall from grace says more about us as a society than Woods’ personal problems.
First, Tiger Woods should be viewed for what he is—a great athlete. And the unending skank-of-the day disclosures cannot alter that reality. In fact, the Associated Press just crowned him Athlete of the Decade.
If we’ve learned anything over the years, it should have been that athletes and entertainers in particular make poor role models. If you’re looking for good role models, turn to the men who take the time to mentor young boys, the women who head Girl Scout troops and the men and women who try to live by what they teach in Sunday School. If you were looking for Tiger Woods to be your role model, you were looking in the wrong place.
The disclosure that Woods had cheated on his wife a time or two, or three, or four, or whatever number, led some people to feel personally betrayed. Mind you, these people have never met Tiger Woods. They have never spoken with him on the telephone and they didn’t receive any of the numerous text messages he had been evidently sending out.
Is Tiger a hypocrite? Unquestionably. But that’s something he’ll have to explain to his God, not to people he doesn’t know exist.
Talking heads on cable TV and talk radio are treating Woods’ transgressions—his word, not mine—as though professional athletes in the past haven’t violated their marriage vows. Do the names Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant ring a bell?
But let’s not just pick on professional athletes. Let me refresh your recollection about some other high-profiled violations:
•Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign as governor of New York last year after it was disclosed that he patronized a prostitution service while serving as the state’s attorney general and as governor. His most publicized tryst occurred at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13, 2008 with a 22-year-old from New York. According to federal authorities, he paid the prostitute $4,300 in cash, which included a $1,100 deposit for future service.
•The wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Standford moved out of the governor’s mansion and filed for divorce this month after learning that her husband had a rendezvous with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he described as his Argentinean lover and soulmate.
•President Bill Clinton barely escaped being kicked out of office after it was disclosed that he had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year-old White House intern. After months of denying the liaison, Clinton finally acknowledged the relationship to a grand jury Aug. 17, 1998.
•Pressured by DNA test results, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was forced to admit this year that he fathered a child with Rielle Hunter, his mistress and a former campaign worker. His wife was bravely fighting cancer at the time.
•Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr., a married father of five, had a daughter outside his marriage a decade ago with Karin L. Stanford, director of the Washington bureau of Jackson’s RainbowPUSH Coalition.
•Larry Craig, a Republican senator from Idaho, was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
The names of at least 50 others could be added to the list if space permitted. But I am sure that by now you get the point.
Woods’ critics, directly and indirectly, point to the race of his mistresses.
Under the headline, “Tiger saga widens his distance from Blacks,” Jesse Washington, a reporter for the Associated Press, quotes Denene Millner, author of several books on Black relationships: “We’ve discussed this for years among Black women. Why is it when they get to this level…they tend to go directly for the nearest blonde?”
Woods, the son of an African-American father and Thai mother, has never prided himself on being Black. He coined the term “Cablinasian,” to reflect what he calls his Caucasian, Black, Indian and Asian heritage. No one should be surprised that most of his mistresses look like Elin Nordegren, his Swedish wife. And nor should anyone consider it an honor if he had cheated on his wife with Black women, or with any other women for that matter.
Tiger Woods’ wounds were self-inflicted and it didn’t help any that his initial statement had more holes in it than a golf course. But there is simply too much interest in what did or did not happen in his home. People should get a life instead of being obsessed with Tiger’s.
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. He can be reached at http://www.georgecurry.com.)