Saturday, January 16, 2010

More About Heroes

A friend has forwarded this piece from an unknown auhtor published recently in the Montreal Gazette.

First of all, let me say quite clearly that I am NOT a
fan of Tiger Woods. Never have been, never will be.
I recognize that he can hit a golf ball quite well, for what
that's worth. Lance Armstrong can ride a bike. Barry Bonds can
hit a baseball. LeBron James can dunk a basketball. That doesn't
make any of them heroes. Matter of fact, they're all about as
far from being heroes as you can get.

Tiger Woods is a man whose life is built around greed and a
ruthless, monomaniacal obsession with winning. No wonder he's
obsessed with acquiring mistresses. The man has always had
everything he ever wanted. Who is going to tell him no? When I
read about Woods, all I see is stories about when he's going to
return to the PGA Tour, how he's going to rehab his image (as
though it's all about image and nothing else) why he's likely to
come back better than ever. No one mentions that this was one
twisted, greedy human being from the get-go. Tiger Woods is what
happens when you turn your child into a machine.

Pity his father, Earl Woods, is no longer around to see the
destruction he has wrought. The infant who was on television
putting against Bob Hope when he was 2 years old, the 3-year-old
who shot 48 for nine holes, the teenager who stepped into a
multi-million-dollar Nike contract before he won his first pro
tournament, has finally broken out of the carefully constructed
shell. Predictably.

What Tiger Woods, his father, his handlers and his sponsors
failed to understand was the simplest of all truths: we are
human. We are not robots. The human Woods kept trying to break
through the robot. We caught glimpses and they weren't pleasant:
The petulant child hurling his clubs and swearing when a shot
goes awry. The swearing. The dirty, leering jokes. The arrogant
brat who does his famous drive-by every time he passes the
autograph hounds waiting after round, refusing to do a Phil
Mickelson and spend 15 minutes signing autographs for the
adoring gallery.

The greedy walking corporation who made it eminently clear from
the beginning that he didn't care about the Asian sweatshop
workers who were turning him into the wealthiest athlete on the
planet. The American of mixed racial heritage who couldn't care
less about politics at home, where people of colour have
suffered and bled for 300 years.

The most outrageous thing I have heard said of Woods came from
his father. Earl Woods predicted that Tiger would turn out to be
one of the great men on the planet, like Gandhi or Nelson
Mandela. Woods is a great golfer, whatever that is worth. He is
not a great man, by any stretch of the imagination. Woods
doesn't begin to measure up to the athletes who were also great
humans: Jackie Robinson, Jim Thorpe, Bill Russell, Babe
Didrickson, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Rocket Richard. They had
to fight real hatred and prejudice. They suffered real hurt.

Woods is a shill, nothing more or less. He works for anyone who
will pay him. He'll peddle watches, golf balls, automobiles,
consulting companies. And Woods will not trouble himself for one
instant if he learns that a good part of his fortune is because
of the labours of Asian workers making a few dollars a day.
That's not his problem, as long as he can afford to cruise off
into the sunset on a $20-million yacht named Privacy - a middle
finger flipped at all the suckers who pay the bills.
The nearest parallel we have to Woods is Michael Jordan. Jordan
was the first athlete to go global as a brand rather than as an
iconic sports hero. He was the first anti-Muhammad Ali, the
athlete who didn't give a damn about anything but himself.
Jordan refused to take a stand against people like the racist
South Carolina senator Jesse Helms because racists buy Nikes,
too. Now Woods has picked up where Jordan left off - and therein
lies a cautionary tale. What was left of Jordan after his career
was over was seen in his disgraceful speech when he was inducted
into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jordan is now a bitter, angry,
vengeful, vindictive man who used his Hall of Fame speech to
slander all of his rivals and most of his one-time friends and

Someone wrote to me yesterday to say that "we" have torn down
the icon that is Tiger Woods. Nothing could be more wrong. "We"
might have built Tiger Woods into the monster of ego and greed
he has become, but "we" had nothing to do with tearing him down.
Woods did that himself, with his insatiable greed, his roving,
relentless sexual appetite, his cynical use of his beautiful
family as props to distract attention from what he was really

In two or three years (if not sooner) most of this will be
forgotten. Woods will be divorced, he'll have as many mistresses
as he wants, he'll go back to winning majors, raking in millions
and endorsing half the products on the planet. Why will he get
away with it? Because sports fans want someone to worship, and
the bottom line is that they don't care if the man inside is
worse than Tony Soprano.

If you want to help your children find heroes in the world of
sport, stick to figures like Tony Dungy, Marc Trestman, Anthony
Calvillo, Ben Cahoon, Jean BĂ©liveau, Otis Grant, Clara Hughes.
Remind your children that when Hughes won her gold medal in
Turin in 2006, she immediately donated $10,000 to Right to Play,
the charity that attempts to help African children through
sport. If Tiger Woods was to donate a comparable portion of his
personal fortune, it would come to $200 million or more. But he
won't do it. That is one reason he's not a hero. Never has been,
never will be.

Because for openers, if you're not a hero to your own family,
you're nothing.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this guy has taken Tiger bashing to a new level. I am no Tiger fan and couldnt care less about him but its interesting to see how much loathing and disgust this author feels towards Woods.
It sounds like hes is upset because black sports figures dont behave well. He still uses Tony Dungee as a person to admire. It seems to me that this author is stuck in some kind of bizzare twisted world where by we must compare all of life to pro sports figures. Doctors, scientists, religious leaders, relief workers,fire fighters, police, hell even some politicians all worthwhile people. The sooner everyone gets past these over paid jocks the better.
These peole are NOT heroes they are entertainers.

Anonymous said...

"Tiger Woods is what happens when you turn your child into a machine."

There you have it in a nut shell. Psychologically sick...and sad for Wood's own children. When the adults go off the rails, it is the children who suffer.


Gary L. said...

"it is the children who suffer".