Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Cornered Tiger!

I like Jim Rome. I enjoy listening to his very opinionated monologues on his show “Rome is Burning.” I like him mostly because he’s completely impartial when it comes to whom or what he’s burning on. Recently he’s had quite a bit to say about Eldrich “Tiger” Woods’ ‘extra-curricular’ activities, and he has not been bashful about ‘ripping’ Tiger’s behavior. Clearly Jim’s not worried about burning bridges or amassing enemies, and if he was then he most certainly picked the wrong business to be in. It’s an often vicious and puerile world in which we live, and the very people that lay down their garments to celebrate your arrival into Jerusalem while waving palm fronds, are the same ones who will be shouting “crucify him” three days later. Now while I certainly decry Tiger’s alleged philandering, I’m not sure I agree with the logic that he owes the public a detailed explanation for his choices simply because he’s making money endorsing products that the public are using, and I’m even more amazed by the sudden and swift change in the public’s perception of him. According to the survey I read, Tigers “favorable ratings” were as high as 83% in 2007. Last week they dropped to 56% and today they’ve plummeted to 36%.

This shift in the public’s perception of Tiger Woods has evidently stymied the effectiveness of his ability to market products, and so a number of his sponsors are pulling his product endorsements, most notably Tag Heuer and Gatorade. Gatorade has discontinued production of their Tiger-Focus drink while Tag Heuer has discontinued their golf version wristwatch reportedly designed by Tiger Woods. Marketers have pulled all ads featuring Tiger from prime-time TV as well as from numerous cable networks, and the last commercial featuring him ran on November 29. Clearly his less than pellucid comments on his website have not endeared his fickle supporters to him, and even his ‘former’ pro-golfing-buddy, Jesper Parnevik, has not had too many kind words to say about Tiger, especially since he introduced Tiger to Elin (Tiger’s wife).

Interestingly though, there has been one loan but persistent voice that has spoken out in Tiger’s defense in a very public setting: the voice of pro-golfer, John Daly. John Daly has been nothing but gracious about Tiger’s misfortunes since the story broke in the press and since alleged partners have continued to crawl out from the woodwork of their shallow lives, for their proverbial fifteen-minutes of fame. John suggests that whatever Tiger may have done is between him and his wife, and goes on to express sadness at the negative comments and attitudes towards Tiger by some of his professional colleagues. It strikes me that John Daly has himself been ridiculed and vilified in a very public setting for his battle with alcoholism. Only someone who’s experienced the pain and the shame of public humiliation can express the kind of compassion and grace that John has and continues to express towards Tiger. John’s response to Tiger is proof that failure can be a good thing. When, through our own personal failures, we recognize that within every human lies the capacity for sin and bad choices, we are less likely to be so harshly judgmental about other people’s poor choices. This might actually make Tiger a better and more compassionate person.

Am I suggesting that Tiger’s behavior should be excused? Absolutely not! I am however suggesting that it’s not up to you or me to determine what the penalty for his choices should be. His wife, I’m sure, is quite capable of handling her personal business with the help of people that are in her life relationally, without the added stress of the public weighing in on what they think the penalty should be for Tiger's asinine behavior. Interestingly enough, Tiger’s endorsements are being pulled because he’s essentially been ‘two-faced’ by living a secret, adulterous life while acting as if he was a faithful family man. Each one of the corporations that have pulled his product or endorsement has categorically stated that the timing of their decision has nothing to do with Tiger’s current woes. Seriously?! I guess being corporately 'two-faced' is acceptable since no one has to take personal responsibility. I’m saddened by Tiger’s choices, but I’m rooting for him and his family to navigate through this painful season, because if they do so successfully, it will be further evidence of the grace of a loving God. What are your thoughts?


Sam Radford said...

Great thoughts Joseph, thanks for sharing.

Hope said...

Tiger "smack" as Jim would call it is whipping through the office and there aren't even any water coolers around. When the first woman came out of the woodwork, it seemed ... well easier to be compassionate, but are they done coming out? The people who are hurting most is a child and mother/wife right now. Why are we, as a people, never satisfied with the blessings we already have?

Anonymous said...

The world always forgets the words of the Master when they brought the woman caught in adultery to him for judgement and he said "Let him who has no sin among you cast the first stone." Is it any wonder that no one present that day was without sin. There is nothing new under the heavens. I am disappointed but not shocked (or even surprised) by what Tiger (and his many mistresses- no one seems to hold them responsible for anything!) did. I share your compassionate perspectives on this Pastor, but we live in a culture that feasts on other people's misfortune, and have little concept of what compassion and forgiveness are all about. Steve, NH.