Apr 13, 2010

Rough road ahead for Tiger

by Mitchell Malcheff

The praises have begun and the red carpet has again been rolled out for Tiger Woods. For the past five months, those praises were missing and that red carpet was replaced with a slippery slope littered with Woods’ indiscretions, to put it mildly. Now, Woods has returned to what at first was a chorus of questions now drowned out by thunderous applause every time a noticeably meeker Woods grips a club or stares down a putt. Those months he was missing in action were filled with speculation of where he was and when he would again walk among the masses.

Woods’ journey has been well chronicled. It has been a meteoric rise to fame that will only be complete when he finally topples Jack Nicklaus’ once untouchable record of 18 major championship victories. Though his path to the mountaintop seemed unsure after the revelations of the past few months, his performance at the Master’s tournament this past weekend has reassured the world that his storybook career will have the closing chapter it deserves.

There are still questions, and perhaps the biggest one has been posed by an unlikely oracle, Woods’ own father, Earl, who spookily speaks to an expressionless Tiger in a new Nike ad, asking if he has learned anything from his transgressions.

Perhaps he has, but what about the rest of us? When will we stop being shocked when those whom we crown as heroes reveal themselves to be human? Maybe this is what we need — a reassurance that our heroes’ crowns don’t fit perfectly. A reminder that if we tug hard enough, their robes will fall off to reveal the tattered jeans and worn T-shirt that hide the person underneath who is subject to the same jealousies, desires and selfishness that plague the rest of the world.

Soon, the world will move on and stories about Tiger will again be relegated to the sports page where he belongs. Before too long, though, history will repeat itself, as it always does. One day, we will pick up the paper or turn on the TV and again be assaulted by the sordid details of another fallen hero. All that will be different are the names and faces. The outrage will start anew until the hero picks up his crown, dusts himself off and slips his robe back on.

The secret is that despite our outrage this is what we want — a juicy story and a pariah to point at and say, “I’m better than that.” The question that Tiger can’t answer is if we really are.

Contact Mitchell Malcheff at
mjmalcheff@liberty.edu.


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