“No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.” – Thomas Carlyle
Our society seems to have Tiger by the tale. He admits bad behavior and is keeping out of sight. I do not know his reasons but most people in his place would do much the same.
I have good news for him. If he will take good advice he can have his good name and honor back, and maybe even enhance his standing, though it will not be easy. Stand by for that advice.
Tiger Woods is three entities: husband and father, professional golfer and the American icon. My comments are only about Tiger Woods the American icon. His conduct as a father and husband are not of my concern, nor are we discussing professional golf.
He groomed himself to be an American icon by working very hard at becoming a highly successful golfer and then carefully controlling what was known about himself. His golf-course fame migrated to living rooms all over the world. The Tiger Woods story is so very compelling because of his status as an icon.
A lesson in dedication and hard work
Tiger Woods should be talked about because both the good and bad about Tiger Woods is the “Out of school curriculum” for today’s youth. His rise to the top of the golf world is a lesson in dedication and hard work. No one gave Tiger anything and there was not a script for him to follow.
The “Out of school curriculum” about Tiger Woods, before his fall from grace, was that no matter where you start in life anything is possible if you work hard and smart. The day he was born the newspapers did not herald the event as world changing. It was pretty neat for his mother and father, but it was beyond expectation that he would ever be at the top of the golf world.
Under the guidance and inspiration of his father Tiger caught the public’s eye by becoming a golfer as a toddler and being on a national show. Then he met every challenge as he matured and became the Tiger Woods we cheered for as a professional.
Through it all he inspired the world’s youth to work a little harder, work a little longer and work a little smarter. These lessons transferred to other endeavors, so that youth who were otherwise unlikely to succeed were inspired by Tiger’s example and were able to rise above expectations.
A sword that cuts both ways
Tiger has done much over the years to help young people envision a different life and different outcome for themselves and break the bonds that held them. A line from the 1981 movie Under the Rainbow went: “No dream too big, no dreamer too small.” Exactly!
Our admiration of Tiger Woods, though, is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. Our society has an opinion about those we hold on high. When we put people on pedestals for all to see we expect them to be worthy of that scrutiny at all times.
What is important about the recent press conference of Tiger Woods is that he acknowledged that words are fine but actions are needed. Despite the effect it has upon his goals for golf, he has bigger fish to fry.
He needs to go to Africa not as a celebrity but as a worker and spend the next two years obscurely making things better in a country 99 percent of the world does not even know exists. Take no cameras nor press people and leave no trail. Spend two years undiscovered by the press serving humanity as penitence.
The Peace Corps can find a place where no one knows him and he can really be of service. Thus, he can get his honor and good name back. Importantly, it will take something more than golf to do so.
Now I use Africa as an example but it could be the Middle East or South America. He must be without media, and if the media finds him he must exit that location and find another place where his name and smile are not known.
Focus on humanity
Some people might think there is no such place on this planet, but I am confident that there are many places where he could just be Woody, a kind, friendly person who showed up one day to help and does so, not with money but with his hands. The Tiger Woods who comes back from that world after two years will be a different man.
His focus on humanity rather than his own needs would be a lesson for today’s youth. In fact, with his example of selflessness more of our youth might volunteer to make this a better world.
Hopefully, he can keep a journal that is full of what he sees and the richness of the volunteering. It should have a minimum of I and a maximum of making a difference in this world helping people. It cannot be something that the public relations folks think will lift his approval rating among 25 to 55 year old women who buy cosmetics.
Hint: Whether he was changed by the experience will quickly be obvious to those reading the journal.
To get his honor and dignity back, Tiger Woods must earn it. When he comes back he may pick up in golf, but he will be seen first as a good person and then as a golfer.
Swickard is a weekly columnist for this site. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.