This incredibly entertaining Tiger Woods story has gotten me thinking about our societal norms. So Tiger Woods has a car accident, which of course is immediately nationwide news since he is a premier golfer and therein a celebrity. After this, all the strange details of the crash are made public due to his celebrity status. Soon after, questions arise that lead to an amusingly excessive number of public accusations about adultery from various women across the country. Suddenly Tiger Woods, who is known of course for his golfing, is getting a massive amount of attention in the news and other media for a car accident and alleged affairs.
Now of course we get interested when a very rich, very talented, very popular person does anything of note. To be fair, in our curious society many people often find themselves also interested in many actions taken by people like Woods that aren’t objectively noteworthy. These people are important to us for one reason or another. Perhaps because we like golf, or we support American athletes, or we envy people Nike sponsors. Whatever the case we get ourselves interested in their lives and, being human, we start to take their lives a little personally.
Now, after some time has passed since the initial news of Wood’s possible indiscretions, I hear people talking about how upsetting what he has done is and how embarrassed he should be. I see people call for him to publicly admit and apologize for his mistakes. There are a few things to make clear at this point. For one, these are largely people who have never met Tiger Woods, have never even seen him in person, and in general probably never will. Secondly, whatever it may seem like I am trying to articulate, I don’t support adultery at any level and don’t know of anyone that would say they do.
With those things cleared up, of course Tiger should be embarrassed, not only did his car crash get rapid, national attention, he may have had one or more extramarital affairs that have also become issues of the public. He should be embarrassed about his car crash because things like that are upsetting to relate to people as close to us and who care about us as much as our parents and friends. Woods shared his vehicular issues with a nation filled mainly with people he never has and never will meet. As for the affairs, he should be embarrassed whether or not they happened, because most people are going to judge him as though they did no matter what they hear.
But while we have every right to be interested in Tiger as he is a major celebrity, an outstanding athlete, an arguably mediocre driver, we don’t have good reason to expect him to be anything besides ordinary outside of the golf course. Now of course you have the right to judge him on anything just like he would have the right to do with you, should he become concerned with your life.
Also, in our current society star athletes have little to no ability to keep their lives private, whether they should be able to or not. My question though, is why you would look at a golfer or any other athlete to be outstanding at relationships, driving, cooking or any other domain outside of sports. Tiger Woods is important to us because he is a golfer, not because he is married, because he owns a car or because of any other aspect of his life. What sense does it make to expect more from him than anybody else in his general existence? He is just a guy with a gift for golf. Now if he did anything to damage his marriage that is important, to his wife, to his family, to his friends. But for his fans, what should be important is his score. People who don’t share a marriage, blood or close friendships with athletes should not act as though the athletes are personally hurting them when they do things like cheating on their wives.
Of course it wasn’t morally right for Tiger to cheat on his wife if he in fact did and he should own up for it to her if that was the case, but not to us. He shouldn’t have to disclose such private and solemn things to people who care about him because of his prowess at getting the putt to drop and the drive to be fair.
Our interest in matters beyond this is unsanctioned and unhealthy. Our expectations for exceptional marital behavior are uncalled for, as Tiger was not the first nor certainly will he not be the last athlete to be accused of a moral fault. Athletes are not the figures that should be scrutinized to show us what our values should be, that’s the politician’s game. Somewhere along the way we’ve become confused and decided that if a person was famous they should have to live to a higher standard. But professional athletes specialize in sports and it’s reasonable to expect a lot from them there.
Outside of sports though, chances are and time shows that they face all the problems of the mortals you actually do know personally and should be concerned about. We don’t have to stop being interested in the lives of people like Tiger Woods, and we likely won’t, but we should temper ourselves and set reasonable goals for these stars so that we can look for perfection in their sports where they have the slightest of chances at attaining it. As popular and interesting as games like golf are, they are nothing compared to the game that life represents. Things like marriage are daunting challenges even when you share them with supermodels, as Woods has graciously shown us. Everyone will benefit if allowed to take care of personal matters in private while we give due attention to the careers that made them famous in the first place. Anything else would be illogical, right?