After watching the televised broadcast of Tiger Woods apology yesterday with my two oldest boys, the three of us decided that we would forgive Tiger Woods. “To more who is given, more is expected” came to mind to me as I watched Tiger Woods explain that he had done wrong knowingly because of feeling “above the law.” The entrapments of fortune and fame are ever-present and so, yet another “role model” seemed to fall the day we saw Tiger’s car hit that tree, but it occurred to me that perhaps Tiger Woods wasn’t a role model before, but that he could be now.
Tiger apologized first to his “friends” in the room in which he was speaking. In attendance were some of his family and many of his close friends. He explained how he hurt them. Then he apologized to his fans and business associates and explained how he let them down. Finally, he apologized to parents like me, who had used Tiger Woods as a role model-type to my four boys. I taught them the important lessons of how a person can reach the top his profession, against many odds (the color of Tiger’s skin prevented him from even being allowed to play in some of the tournaments that he later dominated) by discipline, practice, consistency, and focus. Tiger Woods certainly demonstrated all of those qualities up to now. Tiger’s rise to fame was also important to me because of his special relationship with his dad, Earl Woods. To a dad like me, I found it inspirational and thought it beautiful, the bond between a boy and his dad, from which a legend and a superstar grew.
I watched his news conference with a critical eye, not so much because I didn’t want to forgive Tiger, but because I did! All I wanted to see was sincerity …and I saw it. As he mentioned, he has a long journey ahead of him in many ways piecing back his life and earning back the trust, respect and friendship that he lost with his wife, mom, friends, business associates, fans and dads like me. Yet, I believe he has taken the first steps down that path and as we all know, the first steps are sometimes the most difficult steps to take.
When the scandal first broke, I was angry, not so much at Tiger, but at the look of sorrow and confusion on my boys faces. All they perceived was that Tiger Woods did something very wrong. It was like seeing boys who just saw Superman steal and beat up the store clerk – very disheartening. Great, just what we need, I thought, another fallen hero, another tainted reputation, another example of how sinful we all are. Most regular folks like us say to ourselves, “the guy had it all, how dumb could he be!” In the end, just another target for jokes on late night TV, but this time, they’d be joking about someone that I wanted my sons to be like! It made me sick!
Well now, after seeing his apology and discussing it with my boys, we decided together to forgive Tiger Woods. It is our faith to do so, but in the process I discovered something else. Perhaps Tiger Woods wasn’t the role model I thought he was before this incident, but perhaps he can be a role model now. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
Tiger hurt lots of people – perhaps his wife and mom and close friends will also emerge as role models for the rest of us, by their actions from here on in. While we all sin, we all don’t have to go on global TV and apologize to the world. Our children don’t have to be followed, tabloids don’t publish lies about us and comedians make jokes about us - that comes with his fame, as does his fortune, if he accepts one, he must accept the other.
I pray that Tiger and his family make it through this embarrassing ordeal. I pray more that Tiger will ultimately establish himself as a role model again – one who had fallen, but who asked for forgiveness, believed that he received it and has learned enough from his transgressions never to repeat them. That would make him a role model indeed, someone who I wouldn’t mind my sons wanting to be like.
What do you think?
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Dean Wesley Smith