• Richard Mandell

Tiger Woods: Private Life – Public Image

Athletes should not be role models, but unfortunately by default our society has made them out to be because of our obsession with fame. Tiger Woods should not be a role model. He also should not be having affairs. He is not exempt from adultery just because he is Tiger Woods. That said we should not be consumed by this guy’s daily life. Maybe if we didn’t consider an athlete’s life as role model material, then we wouldn’t be so consumed with their daily lives.


From my radio shows to the Washington Times, people are fascinated at others’ vulnerability and ability to fail. The allegations of Tiger Woods’ infidelity may hit home harder than most because Tiger’s performance in the field of sport over the past thirteen years has been as close to perfection as one can have, particularly for golf. His recent personal challenges have shown that he is not as invincible as his image portrays, rather he is a little more human than we thought, flaws, warts, and all.


The ‘humanization’ of Tiger Woods as a result of his personal issues is the focal point of the story for me more so than the sensationalist approach everyone else in the media is taking. I am not feeling sorry for the guy, not in the least, because adultery is an act that should not be accepted under any circumstances no matter who the violator may be. Unfortunately for the world’s society, adultery has quickly become a way of life across the board and is on the verge of universal acceptance. This has come about in part because of our tendency to make role models of the rich and famous and as they falter, their acts become more and more accepted by their “worshippers”.


When it comes to Tiger Woods’ infidelity in the public realm, the question is, “who should really care?” Are athletes people should look up to? Are they supposed to be role models or just professional athletes? To me, the role of a professional athlete should be to play sports and nothing else. It is society that deifies athletes and forces them to be role models. Endorsement deals require these people to live a certain life in many eyes, but maybe we shouldn’t be relying on people to sell products. How about just relying on products to sell products? We should never put the athlete in the position of personal role model. It isn’t their job.


If you look upon Tiger as a role model, then maybe you do care about the pickle the guy has created. But that is where we have all derailed. Tiger Woods and any other athlete really shouldn’t be primary role models. They should only be role models on the field. How can these guys really be role models when they live lives that none of us can ever imagine living on a day to day basis? When they finally do something that people can relate to it is usually something negative and that is when we can relate. A true role model should be a realistic model that somewhat reflects the life that you live or the life that you can realistically emulate. The quicker we get away from hero worship, the better off our society will be.


My son Thomas’s favorite baseball player as a four year old was Manny Ramirez. When he got suspended for steroid use over the summer, I charged myself with the task of converting him over to David Wright. Ironically that same week I got to meet Charles Barkley, who so famously declared that he is nobody’s role model. He was very personable, friendly, and funny. Barkley is a person I admire due to his affable personality and his rebounding skills, but not his golfing skills and certainly how he conducts his personal life. By the way, he didn’t throw me through a window. Is he a role model for me? Not in the least.


Later that week, Thomas was set to be on my radio show (Tee Time on Talk Radio 990-WEEB) to talk about the First Tee Golf Program. As I was prepping him for the radio show, I asked him about his most favorite thing about the First Tee. His response: “Daddy!” At another time, when asked what he liked most about tee-ball practice, he said “Daddy pitches to me!” The point is that I am the role model, not Barkley (who agrees with me) or Ramirez (who hasn’t got a clue about role models if he has even thought about it) and not even David Wright (who may or may not be a fine role model).


So at the end of the day, who really should care about Tiger Woods’ personal life? Is it really worth all the media effort, all the spent hours pontificating, discussing, reporting, and writing? Think of all the energy that has already been spent and all the energy that will continue to be spent on this subject just so the rest of us can be happy with our own circumstances. The whole thing smacks of a tear-down of an athlete because we as a society are too afraid to embrace our own lives, our own faults, and our own challenges, on our own.


Tiger Woods’ personal life is none of our business. We as a society are not automatically allowed access to his life beyond what he provides to the public. I see Tiger Woods’ golfing talent as something to emulate and model, but nothing else. To me he will be the greatest golfer in the history books and that is all he should be. I have better role models for my personal life.

1/4