Holland, MI

Like everyone else, Tiger ends up on his knees

The Tiger Woods saga has moved past its crisis point, and perhaps even past the point of voyeuristic intrigue and scoffing judgment, to a point allowing some more even-handed reflection. Most observers, admirers and detractors of Tiger alike, viscerally recoil both at the known facts of the matter and the more prurient details provided by the imagination. When someone on so high a perch as Tiger Woods falls, the public Schadenfreude is even more pronounced. To observe that adultery and fornication go on every day is not to condone Tiger’s activities, but rather to note exactly the inordinate attention this particular instance has received.

For a person such as myself, long an ardent admirer of Tiger’s, the sordid details unnerve, even if they don’t shock. Most of my friends called to ask me “how I was doing” (as if I were the aggrieved party), but the news didn’t come as a shock to me, and this not only because I never thought the guy was a saint (in truth, I can’t be said to know him at all). Indeed, his on-course behavior had become an increasing source of consternation to me: he wasn’t dominating the way he once did, and with age his temper was becoming more volatile, not less. In the wake of the revelations attending his November car crash, it’s not hard to see why.

My fascination with Tiger began in 1996 when he won his third straight US Amateur championship, and then announced to the world that he was going to dominate the PGA Tour. Anyone who has followed sports has seen their share of phenoms and “can’t-miss” prospects come and go. Rare is the person who not only meets expectations, but surpasses them. In Tiger’s case the expectations couldn’t have been higher, and he exceeded them in breathtaking fashion, perhaps reaching the zenith at the 2000 US Open when he dusted the field by 15 strokes.

Now, a cynic, even regular posters on this page, might argue that this is all inconsequential, that sports spectating is the activity of the bored and addled. I believe, however, that there is something ennobling about sports spectating (of course, I’m a political theorist, and the root of the word “theory” is, after all, to spectate at games),¹ even if it involves persons with whom we have no immediate contact.

Not knowing Tiger, I can still make some reasonable speculations about his behavior. Those of us who are not in the public spotlight, who do not operate under the tremendous pressure and scrutiny he faces on a daily basis, can hardly imagine the difficulties of the life he faces. Indeed, no one but Tiger (or, perhaps, Michael Jordan) could know. Jaime Diaz, the well-respected reporter for Golf Digest and the person who has covered Tiger’s career better than anyone, tells this story:

“But as much as he sought the glory, he resented the obligations that came with it, even if they made him incredibly rich. I remember Earl telling me that once he had tried to commiserate with his overwrought son by saying, “I understand how you feel.”But, Earl recalled, “Tiger turned on me and said, ‘No, you don’t. You have no idea how I feel.’ And I realized that I had underestimated.” As Tiger’s life in his 30s became more tangled, he turned more inward. His inner circle got smaller and tighter, and those who overstepped or didn’t fit in were jettisoned. The best advice for those who are around Woods remains, “Don’t get too close.” Those who were the closest saw the pressures and the toll. Out of sympathy, and the fact that he is their employer, they didn’t call Woods on imperfect behavior like swearing, banging clubs and blowing by autograph lines. Within his camp, Tiger in a bad mood would be characterized in golf jargon: ‘Unplayable.’”

I’ve maintained for some time there are two Woods: Tiger and Eldrick. The latter is the shy, nerdish boy, the son of Tida and Earl (who had the burden of trying to keep his parents together), father of two and husband of one. Tiger is the superstar, the image, the conglomerate, the public figure; the one who balances the mega-billion dollar demands of the PGA Tour, his foundation, his sponsors, his parent’s expectations, and a fawning public. The one who can’t go out in public without being harassed. An obvious question in all this has been: “How can someone as disciplined and focused as Tiger do something this stupid?” I suspect that at some level, it’s because Eldrick wanted to destroy Tiger, that he wanted to claim a normal life for himself. His public mea culpas have seemed to me to be consistent with this belief, for he has portrayed himself as someone he no longer recognizes (as happens to all of us when we face our sins).

Then too, Tiger’s development as a moral being provided further challenges. I’ve often compared him to Mozart: born with prodigious talent cultivated by an overbearing father who had dedicated his life to his son’s success. And the success came soon: Tiger on Mike Douglas at the age of three, Mozart touring Europe and sitting on Maria Theresia’s lap at the age of four. Neither of these geniuses had normal childhoods, and they carried the scars of that with them into their adult lives, scars which damaged their ability to have normal relationships.

Few of us can imagine the difficulty of maintaining a virtuous life under the circumstances Tiger had to face. Just as everything in his life is larger, so also are his temptations. To put it crassly, I don’t have attractive women throwing themselves at me wherever I go, and thank God for that. Wealth, success, fame, good looks, charisma – all these are two-edged. Nor can he easily tell the difference between a true friend and a sycophant, which leaves him without the kind of reprimanding love all of us need and receive regularly. He has no one to trust. He is isolated, forced to face these sufferings and temptations alone. Just as his game is beyond anyone else’s, so are the other parameters of his life. His life is outsized.

Aristotle recognized the difficulty of living virtuously under those circumstances. Having only a moderate amount of the goods of this life is what “most readily obeys reason.”

“…whereas whatever is exceedingly beautiful, strong, well born, or wealthy, or conversely whatever is exceedingly poor, weak, or lacking in honor, has a hard time obeying reason.”

Attractive persons tend not to be virtuous because others are constantly excusing their behavior, while unattractive persons are embittered. Rich people buy their way out of trouble, and poor people are driven by resentment. Those who are well-born think everything they get is a result of their own merit, whereas those in lowly estate think they are powerless. The needle’s eye is indeed small for those who live in either excess or deficiency. I believe both are equally deserving of our sympathy, and I think Tiger realized, maybe not consciously, that all his fame, wealth, and power were a curse, and in some ways he wanted out.

As Sophocles taught us, great gifts are usually accompanied by great suffering and great loneliness.² Having the gifts bestowed on oneself can be a tremendous curse, and the recipients may often try to escape the burden the gifts impose (sloth being only one option). They isolate us from our fellow men, who both fear and envy those gifts until they need them. And need them we do, perhaps not like Philoctetes’ bow, but in the beauty of Beethoven’s music, or Goethe’s prose, or Van Gogh’s paintings, or Eliot’s poetry. We’ll take these flawed individuals with all their psychoses and all their warts because, well, we can’t live without their art.

Even if we were to concede that Tiger “is a great golfer, but a bad man,” should that detract from our meditative enjoyment of the artistry of his game? I would contend that Tiger’s golf game is an instantiation of beauty analogous to a Mozart quintet. If we think of art not purely as aesthetic enjoyment but as a social practice that involves performance and engagement, then surely Tiger has achieved Olympian heights. His artistry ennobles all who see and respect it.

Those of us attendant to the details of golf recognize instantly the difference between a “beautiful” swing (such as Tiger’s, Sam Snead’s, or Ben Hogan’s) and an “ugly” one (such as Arnold Palmer’s, Chi-Chi Rodriguez’s, or Jim Furyk’s). The former has balance, symmetry, and effortless power. Movement is initiated so that space is occupied in exactly the right way in exactly the right moment (much as time is in music, which is why tempo is so important in both). It is graceful, smooth, rhythmic, all in service of fulfilling the body’s potential, even if that potential serves the absurd drama of putting a two-inch ball into a four-inch hole a third of a mile away in five hits. Each golfer has within himself a perfect swing, and golf is a relentless quest to try to achieve that perfection. In that sense, we are trying to get out of our own way, to allow the swing to become us.

Athletics involve a loss of self-awareness, an uncoupling of our movements from our thought processes. At its apogee, it is a state of pure receptivity in the context of uncertainty, both to how one’s developed gifts will perform under pressure, and to whatever might happen next in the event of the contest. In the nexus between exertion and restraint, athletics provide a full and perfect expression of life itself. It is precisely because of its inconsequence that it becomes so important.3 Indeed, we refer to sport in both meanings of “recreation” in that it reinstantiates the sacredness, the joyful playfulness, of creation itself. It restores, and brings about unity.

Perhaps we are dismissive of sport because of a residual hatred, often found in forms of Christianity, of the body itself.  But the movement of the body in athletic form is both Apollonian and Dionysian, it is controlled abandon, directed power, and no one in my lifetime has done this better than Tiger Woods. Moreover, he has not done this in private (on a driving range), but in the agon where the athlete is removed from the everyday world and transfigured into something heroic. He has demonstrated sacrifice, courage, steadfastness, and composure in the face of loss and its attendant humiliation. He has done his best when the best was hardest to do, and fully honored the gift he had been given.

We think, then, of virtue in two of its senses: as the pursuit of excellence within a practice, and as performed in the public arena. In this, Woods has been exemplary. After setting all sorts of records at the 1997 Masters, Tiger retooled his swing. After winning four majors in a row in the early 2000’s, he retooled his swing again. In both cases he wasn’t motivated by the desire to conquer, nor by money (goods external to the practice), but by finding within himself the golf swing that would come closest to perfection. He supplicated himself by attempting to develop fully his gift within the space created by the practice. While he hasn’t been as dominating, those who know him best (including his own testimony) all say his swing can do so much more than it did before. He has more shots. He is fuller, more complete.

It undoubtedly seems strange to turn a story on Tiger Woods into a meditation on beauty and virtue. His private life shows none of these things, and even his golf has become unraveled, as shown by him for the first time coughing up a lead in the final round of a major. We live in a world that detests greatness among human beings, one so given to egalitarian excess that we can’t allow our heroes to shine as brightly as they might. Like Philoctetes’ shipmates, we condemn them to a life of solitude on the island of Lemnos, leaving them only their gifts and their pain – until we are told we need them.

None of us have any justification to doubt the sincerity of Tiger’s mea culpa or the process by which he tries to reclaim his life. Like Augustine, like all of us, he has become a stranger to himself and is now trying to recover everything he has lost, including his spiritual core. I hope for his sake this laborious and difficult process is rewarded. I hope for his children’s sake their parents manage to reconcile. I hope for his wife’s sake she can regain the dignity that was taken from her by her husband’s philandering. I hope for our sake he finds a deeper unity both as person and as artist, and can treat us to something surpassing in beauty and achievement. I hope for his redemption, as well as my own. As I have in the past, I’ll be rooting for him.
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¹ A ϑεωρος is a spectator at games, while the verb ϑεωρια means the act of spectating, as well as referring to the designation given to officials delegated to visit the sacred festivals of other polities, learning their customs and traditions. Plato connects theory to play explicitly by arguing (Laws 649-650) that sports are a “cheap and comparatively harmless test” of someone’s character, and spectating sport reveals their character without “serious consequence or costly damage” – ironically, in this case, as a better alternative to discovering the disposition of someone who “is a slave to the pleasures of sex” than marrying him off to your daughter. With play, “we have a fair test of man by man, and that for cheapness, security and speed it is superior to all other tests.” In short, theory is a desirable alternative to the hard lessons of experience.

² As when, for example, Philoctetes tells Neoptolemus that his only faithful companions have been the bow given to him by Apollo, and the pain in his festering foot which never leaves him.

³ This is the sense of the irreducibility, and utter seriousness, of play as discussed by John Huizinga in his groundbreaking Homo Ludens. Or, as put by Geerardus Van Der Leeuw in my favorite book on art Sacred and Profane Beauty: The Holy in Art,  “The great difficulty, indeed the tragedy of our modern life, lies in the fact that we differentiate between the things that concern us and the things which do not concern us.”

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Jeffrey,
    You done good. I very much like your loving analysis of the sport and of Eldrick’s place in it. I don’t even really disagree, except to say that I have read recently a very similar set of excuses for Elizabeth Taylor. And I would add that two words make much of what you say, well, difficult to swallow: Jack Nicklaus. One of the real problems with the Tiger story is that from the beginning both he and his father considered themselves above the game. In effect, they introduced golf to the Great Project of Social Engineering. Golf was once the Republican Party at Play. Maybe that wasn’t all good, but it was real (remember when Scott Simpson was the only Democrat on Tour?), and when Tiger decided to wipe that out he took on more than swing perfection. That he was morally incapable of several kinds of perfection at once is not surprising, nor is it something that should condemn him to perdition. But I’m not, maybe sad to say, rooting for him. I think he’s the one with something to prove.

  2. Interesting reflections, Jeffery–not what I would have expected at FPR, but insightful and provocative all the same.

    Regarding Woods himself, I’m uninterested in weighing in. Regarding Woods as a golfer–well, to be sure, his swing is an awesome display of power and grace. But golf has always been, and always will be, all about the short game. His short game is very good, certainly better than 90% of his competition, and infinitely better than mine ever will be, but it doesn’t have the graceful command of his drives and fairway shots. He is, still, a golfer who dominates because of his power, not because of his control.

  3. Jeez Jeff, get over it! Tiger’s a dirt ball….hello! I wonder if he brought home any std’s for the old lady?
    Maybe he represents the great leveling of the game of golf. If so, I guess that egalitarian experiment comes up a cropper.
    It’s a question of “class,” and the dude doesn’t have any. And, hey that “apology” was pathetic. I prefer him sinning with panache than grovelling like a beat cur!
    Anyway, I can’t worry about Tiger. My poor Steelers gotta get Big Ben out of his latest penis problem and win one more Super Bowl. Then the Rooney’s can trade his sorry arse to Oakland.

  4. You suggest that Eldrick was looking to sabotage Tiger. I don’t disagree, but I think it’s simpler than that.

    Thanks to his crackpot father, Tiger didn’t have a choice as a kid. His father (father’s are God to children) decreed he was to be the greatest golfer ever and the saviour of mankind. I’d say that’s a heavy hand Eldrick got dealt. (The Jaime Diaz quote is revealing.) The subterranean rage resulting from his lack of freedom and powerlessness (how ironic) led him to rebel and assert his manhood, individuality and power through the conquest of women.

    The question remains whether he will be able to find the freedom to quit golf and discover his true destiny. Perhaps like Andre Agassi, he will CHOOSE golf, and thus take back his freedom. But methinks he is too far owned by the public to escape now.

    This may sound wacked, but few of us have the latent potential to understand the sacrifice of Christ– the submission of a will to a father’s desires–quite like Tiger. That meeting is his only hope for salvation and freedom. Maybe no human has carried the kind of public burden and fatherly expectations that Tiger bears. I hope that meeting happens, and Tiger discovers his true Father and destiny. Mostly for Eldrick. It is his only way out.

    And for us, it would more enjoyable and rewarding to see Tiger find the freedom George Foreman found in humility, joy and Jesus. It’s a much better ending than the sad decline of the arrogant human god that made Muhammad Ali’s descent so pitiable and pathetic.

  5. Saying that Andre Agassi chose tennis is a little much; by his own account, he continued to hate the game until his very last match. But you’re right that he did, eventually (primarily, it seems, through his surprisingly dedicated marriage to Steffi Graf), make peace with the talent which God gave him and his father forced him to hone, and so that was definitely something.

    Also, don’t blame Ali’s decline primarily on his arrogance; the early onset of his Parkinson’s Disease clearly also played a role.

  6. Hi Russell,

    I don’t think Agassi chose tennis anymore than Tiger chose golf… initially. I was referring to when he recommitted himself to the game. He specifically talked about his return being a conscious choice, and that made all the difference.

    As for Ali, I was mostly referring to the latter fights of his career (especially the last Spinks fight) when he looked like an aged doughy punching bag who didn’t seem to know what to move onto after boxing.

    I can be controversial, but I am not willing to point out any poetic connection with his arrogance and the humbling disease he now suffers from. That kind of judgement, as so many like to say on this site, is way beyond my pay grade.

  7. One thing that can be said in Tiger’s favor (and it is not that he was like Mozart): He does respect the game, and has taken much of his approach to excellence directly from the Nicklaus playbook. I disagree with RAF above. Tiger’s game is of course based on power, as was the young Nicklaus’s. Jack always said that he would rather play from the rough with a nine iron than from the fairway with a six. Tiger is often wild and not very graceful off the tee, but he gets the ball to where he can get it close enough to the pin to make a put. And putting is his game, as he has said countless times. Tiger has paid homage to Jack at Jack’s tournament several times. He seems to recognize at least that he is standing on the shoulders of a real giant.
    Anyway, going back to Jeffrey’s ruminations on beauty and virtue, I think a better comparison to Tiger is Frank Sinatra. Anyone who ever saw Old Blue Eyes in concert knows that, even if he were drunk on stage, he still respected the music he performed and cared deeply for its beauty and wanted to make it beautiful with his voice. He was also, most of the time, a scumbag. And he never apologized.

  8. A quick reply, as I don’t like to interject too much on my own posts. John is right: Tiger’s game off the tee is ordinary at best (now – it used to be more sublime). With a wedge in his hand, he is magical; with a putter, transcendent. In imagination, creativity, and skill, only Mickelson’s short game is comparable to Tiger’s. As a pressure-putter, the latter is without peer.

    Eutychus: I purposely begged off writing about Tiger’s relationship with his dad, but I think you’ve hit the mark. Earl did his son some favors, but more disservice. Eldrick had no normal childhood, that’s for sure, and his father placed absurd expectations on him, which probably became even more burdensome and difficult to deal with upon his father’s death.

    The Nicklaus comparison: yes, Tiger has emulated Jack as a student of the craft, and in his respect for the game. Tiger is (or, at least, was) much better liked by his peers than Jack ever was. The latter was quite unpopular, largely as a result of his broad arrogance and lack of humor. I have no way of knowing if Jack ever cheated on his wife. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but I’d suggest caution is asserting authoritatively Nicklaus as a moral antinome to Tiger. Then too, Nicklaus only had to endure a fraction of the public and media scrutiny that Tiger does. That this could have a pernicious effect on behavior seems a proposition worth entertaining. Sinatra is a good comparison. For me, the gold standard for debating the merits of art versus character is Wagner.

  9. John is right: Tiger’s game off the tee is ordinary at best (now – it used to be more sublime). With a wedge in his hand, he is magical; with a putter, transcendent. In imagination, creativity, and skill, only Mickelson’s short game is comparable to Tiger’s. As a pressure-putter, the latter is without peer.

    Hmm. That’s not how I see it, but scanning around the internet to collect some stats, they seem to back you up: completely aside from whatever claims made by Woods himself (and his fans and detractors), he does appear to have racked some nigh-unchallengeable successes on the greens. It’s possible that my impressions of his approach to the game were permanently shaped by his huge splash he made in 1996-97, when his power on the fairways–the distances he was hitting the ball, and the accuracy!–were genuinely astonishing.

  10. Until Jack shows up otherwise, he is the gold standard of golf. And he was only mildly disliked, and only for a short while, when he was doing away with Arnie’s army in the early and mid 60s. There has never been a greater gentleman to the press and his fans. The grace and competitiveness he showed in winning the Masters at the age of 46, coming from 6 strokes down, in 1986 (which I watched with an old man, my next door neighbor, who was a second father to me), was one of the moments that makes the sport truly unique. If Tiger ever approaches that artistry, passion, and grace; well, I doubt it. And please, let us knock off the “Oh what a sad childhood he had” talk. Half the truly great men and women I know had terrible childhoods, many of them a lot worse than Tiger’s.

  11. “Eldrick wanted to destroy Tiger, that he wanted to claim a normal life for himself.”

    This is quite helpful. One of the main reasons pastors commit adultery is desperation – they hate their life, and consciously or unconsciously see infidelity as a way out. Magnify that several orders of magnitude, and…

  12. John,

    Enough with the love-in for Nicklaus. Jeffrey is right. Jack was never well liked. I, too, as a kid watched the 86 Masters and fell in love with Jack. But as the years went by I couldn’t help notice the traits that Jeffrey points out: a lack of humour and arrogance. When I watched him in subsequent years at the Masters he seemed like an old grouch who lacked precisely what you attribute to him–grace–grace to accept the reality of his humanity and declining skills. I’ll take Arnie’s beaming face any day of the week over Jack’s surly scowl.

    And as for Tiger, you and Cheeks ought to put your stones down already.

  13. Goodness, Jordan, I seem to stick in your craw. Well, that’s all right. I’m 70 today, and determined to be happy and thankful for three score years and ten! Stones for Tiger? Not, I think, an apt metaphor.

  14. I referred, as you can see, to Jack’s standing among his peers in distinction to Tiger’s (who has, on the course, surpassed Jack’s artistry and passion, if not his grace). Jack never was particularly well-liked by his peers, who nicknamed him “Carnac” because he was a know-it-all. But my point is not to try to elevate Tiger by denigrating Nicklaus. One point of the article is to put us on guard against thinking too highly of any public figure in the absence of genuine knowledge of them. I think we can have the highest regard for their achievements without projecting on to them all sorts of other noble character traits. I wrote the article in part because I have been guilty of that with Tiger.

    I mentioned that we have no reason to question the sincerity of Tiger’s apology; indeed, he has seemed to me to be obviously suffering, and also facing the difficulty of going through a 12-step program. Those of us who have had loved ones go through this might have a higher degree of sympathy for Tiger’s plight.

    At the same time, as a friend of mine pointed out to me, we have no reason to assume the sincerity of the apology either. This friend further wondered why I felt the need to write an apologia at all, particularly since the last paragraph indicates too little critical distance. Those are fair comments, and brings further into relief the complexity of trying to appreciate someone’s art while at the same time trying to understand, and maybe even appreciate, who they are as persons. To what degree can we separate the two? I’m not sure of the answer. I’m also a (God help me) Wagnerian, a man whose behavior made Tiger’s look almost saintly in comparison. But I love his operas.

    Benevolence, a general well-wishing for our fellow human beings, was a secondary virtue for Aquinas, but a virtue nonetheless. I can’t see how wanting for Tiger to be able to turn his life around and find some peace and genuine happiness can be a bad thing. Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.

  15. Jordon, you gotta get up real early to get ahead of the Hillsdale Terror. Dr. Willson, I notice, prefers to call aces, well, aces. Frankly, I appreciate that and as a fellow interlocutor here you should be just a little more appreciative….

    Jordon, I made the great mistake of just now going to your blog, and while you have not asked me to stick my nose into your tent I am concerned that you are in a state Voegelin and the Classical Greeks referred to as “alienation.”
    BTW, your writing has a “Russian” element, reminiscent of Tolstoi, et al, though on the cusp of Sartean existentialism.
    It is not my desire to turn away from a fellow human if I can be of assistance; nor, i believe, is it Dr. Willson’s attitude. Indeed, Willson may be the best among us. So, if you need someone to talk to, to yell at, to engage in the dialectic my email’s: robertcheeks@core.com.
    For some really weird reason, in reading your writing, I am reminded of a Dylan line:
    “..down the street the dogs are barkin’ and the day’s a’grownin’ short…
    As the night comes t’ fallin’ the dogs will lose their bark…”

    Surely as a Christian you’re aware of the eschatological meaning embedded in the Gospel even in an age of deculturation.

  16. I’m sure it wasn’t your intention, but I’m flattered.

    I will say, Cheeks, that when prodded you show your gentler side rather than go for the kill. Maybe, like the Apostle Paul, you are less inflammatory in person than you are, sometimes, in words?

    Like Willson I, too, like to call aces, aces, but the response etiquette advises me against it. As for your offer of assistance, you are too kind. I am not sure I remember asking for any, nor do I believe I am in need of any, so I will politely decline. But if you have an email address for your “pony-tailed, former dope smokin’ hippie, Democrat brother”, that would be someone I would be interested in having a conversation with. It would probably be quite revealing. Nevertheless, if there is something you wish to say to me I can be found at: jordsmith@gmail.com.

    And as a Christian, yes I am aware of the eschatological meaning embedded in the Gospel (even in an age of deculturation). This is a vague (and therefore clever and profound) reference to what? The stone throwing comment?

    As for the Dylan line… Perhaps your point is apt. I don’t know. Maybe it is a prophetic line for Dylan himself? For us all? But I am certain of one thing: When the night comes t’fallin’ the top “Dog” will find his bite.

  17. So much phylisophical and psycological crap concerning a golpher who happened to cheat on his wife. The magnitude of essays and reporting on this subject makes me shake my head.

  18. Shake away, Newman. I suppose you think that ___________ (fill in the blank) is more worthy of our concern than anybody cheating–on anything. Oh well, for goodness sake don’t be, you know, judgmental. Not allowed.

  19. First of all: Bob, I like you twice as much knowing that you are a Steelers fan. My Roethlisberger jersey is on an indefinite leave of absence (though I’m not a big jersey-wearing kind of guy to begin with).

    I watched the Tiger apology and then I read some of the commentary. The amount of second-guessing was awe-inspiring. Gag-inspiring. I was surprised that so many people are experts on giving apologies after unprecedented public humiliation brought on by a pretty epic amount of sinning.

    Genuine apology or not, the man is in a hell of his own creation, and I sympathize. So much of our own (my own) misery is self-inflicted. We are too often a pretty miserable bunch, humans, and I don’t want to be part of any condemnation that could be leveled against myself should my own (assuredly less debauched, less prolific) failings become public consumption. Of course I believe in the Imago Dei and the dignity of man due to the love of God. I believe (contrary to some of the above) that his actions are inexcusable–and therefore, as C.S. Lewis would say, forgivable.

  20. Absolutely Tiger is the one who has to prove himself as a man. I have rooted for him for years, and will no longer do so; it takes more than golf skill to impress me as a human being!

  21. Jeff:

    A thoughtful and well written piece about arguably the most fixated athlete of all time. I once could appreciate Tiger’s enormous talent no more. The events at this weekend’s Masters Tournament–and Phil Mickelson’s stirring win–helped me understand why. When the foul-mouthed Woods was interviewed after his final round he exposed himself to be a petulant bore. Meanwhile the honest, plain speaking, ever affable Mickelson had a victory that was truly heroic. Woods’ loss occured in the wake of a pernicious lifestyle commited against his wife. Mickelson’s win couldn’t be halted by a pernicous disease afflicting his wife. When Phil hugged his cancer stricken spouse after walking off the 18th green Sunday evening, and that single tear rolled down from the corner of his left eye, it was a moment that couldn’t have been better choreographed by a Hollywood director.

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