In the Woods of the Sexes: What Tiger's mess says about men & women
Okay, I'll bite.
My personal pledge to avoid discussion of the Tiger Woods saga herein was altered this weekend when the sad tabloid yarn actually became a sports story. Admitting my own hypocrisy, that's not to say my log on the fire in respect to this mess will actually be an observation on sport itself. But on Saturday, when Woods revealed that he will be taking "an indefinite break from professional golf," the need to add to the national discourse became overriding.
For those yet to review Woods' most recent posting since this shit-storm began two-a-half weeks ago, here is what the golfer wrote on his website:
"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.
I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.
After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.
Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period."
The true financial fallout from Woods' absence amidst the zeitgeist of a PGA Tour that has battled for sponsors the last two years can only be aptly discerned with time. A weekend report from the Associated Press quoted British Open champ Stewart Cink as saying:
"Just the absence itself, we've been through that. I don't think it's any rocket science in saying him not being involved in golf for a while is going to hurt ratings. He's exciting. And him not being there makes it less exciting. No one can take the place of Tiger Woods out there. The rest of us are going to have to put on a better show."
The report went on to note that when Woods recently missed eight months of pro golf recovering from knee surgery, television "ratings typically plunged 50 percent."
In his hiatus, Woods joins superstar male athletes like Barry Sanders, Bjorn Borg, Rocky Marciano, Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax, Muhammad Ali, and Ken Dryden as men who extracted themselves from their respective sport at a time when health-factors were not an overriding concern in their performance. It's true that Koufax was experiencing arm troubles at the age of 30 after having tossed nearly 2,400 innings in his 12 seasons; however the guy left baseball after leading MLB with 27 wins in 1966. In regard to the great Ali, he missed about four years at the height of his powers in the late 60's because of political reasons, although he did return to boxing and reclaimed his heavyweight title in 1974's "Rumble in the Jungle."
And for that -- the fan suffers, as does the sport, although both carry on.
Of course the greatest suffering in this unseemly business of adultery has been incurred by Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children and to whom the golfer has been wed since 2004.
Which leads me to this thesis of this entry: in that if we are to indeed take something from the plight of the world's most visible athlete, perhaps it is a furthered understanding between the sexes. For all his greatness, his storied preparation, his impressive physique, his luminary work ethic -- Woods has, above all else, been famed for his mental fortitude. Evidence of such has been (or attempted to be) captured by countless article and books, among them Dr. Joe Parent's Zen Golf, Woods' own How I Play Golf, and John Andrisani's Think Like Tiger, the latter of which suggests in no small part that Woods' celebrated focus has been honed via hypnotism, meditation, and Buddhist teachings. From the beginnings of his life, Woods' mind has been crafted to become the steeliest part of his body, the strongest brain in the history of the world's most mental sport.
For some, there is a lesson in the mess, whether it is this offering or another. But for those that now never want to see Woods usurp Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors, perhaps Tiger is just another really talented animal who just couldn't keep his dick in his pants.