In Defence of Tiger Woods

An attempt of a spirited defence of Eldrick Tont Woods’ recent indiscretion.

There has been much urgent malicious in the media about and against Eldrick Tont Woods, ‘Tiger Woods’ sexual infidelities. None of it is justified. Let us review what he is actually being vilified for.

Firstly, the intensity of the schadenfreude is most likely a reaction to the Tiger Woods media machine that used to rule the media waves and has annoyingly squeaky clean image that he tries to portray. In a word, they are getting their back on him for being a hypocrite.

But what is a hypocrite? It is someone who gives an untrue impression of what they really are or believe. And who amongst us is not a hypocrite or has been one? Our social environment demands that hypocrisy of us. Our social relations insist upon it. Have you said something you didn’t really mean in a social setting (i.e. call me? yeah, let’s meet up? nice to meet you!)? Have you smiled when you didn’t want to? Have you shook hands when you didn’t want to? Have you acted blameless or innocent when you have done wrong? We have all done these things. We are all hypocrites at one point or another. We flatter ourselves by using the word manners. So if we want to accuse him of hypocrisy, let’s put the cuff on ourselves first.

And why are we hypocrites? Usually it is to avoid offence and upsetting people. We do it sometimes to encourage those we like to like us back. We do it sometimes to achieve a greater purpose. Hypocrisy is ugliest when it is only for one’s self interest and nobody else’s. Tiger has used this hypocritical image to energize and attract interest in golf amongst the youth and turned it into one of the biggest richest sports events on earth. He sets up the Tiger Woods Foundation to further his ambitions to create a benign and encouraging environment for children. His false image must be weighed up against all the good work he has done using that false image. Just as literature tells a ‘lie’ to tell a truth, humans commit smaller indiscretions to achieve what they feel are higher purposes.

This brings us to the question of why we cannot help but commit these indiscretions in the first place. But to ask such a question betrays a lack of understanding of human nature which is fallible, inconsistent and prone to failure. All religions remind us of our imperfection, our error prone nature, our distracted nature. All religions encourage us to struggle with our darker impulses and overcome them. Constantly. For some its sex. For others its power. For many its money. Most of humanity struggles with all these impulses. Tiger is no different. In fact, because of his immense privilege and talent and management team, it just may be that he has to struggle greater with controlling these impulses. Let us not forget that he is only 34 (just, his birthday was on 30 December 1975), which though is old in sporting terms these days, is still a young human being. The worse thing a human being could do with their youth is to live a perfect life without error, struggle or dilemmas. So it is good and in keeping with Tiger’s growth of his maturity. Hopefully he makes the right decision and ends up wiser. He will hopefully see that his biggest mistake in all this was not his sexual intensity or even his discretion but his insistence on perfection outside his life of golf and to believe in it. But these are the usual sins of youth committed during our reverie of immortality.

The other thing they are vilifying him for is that he was unfaithful to his wife. Part of this was a result of his media machine which played up what a great romance it was. The above arguments have similar application on this aspect. The other aspect is the betrayal in itself. I concede that it is generally wrong for either party to cheat on each other in a marriage, but we must be alive to the possibility that his sexual intensity notwithstanding, both parties may be to blame for the present predicament. And as he stands generally accused of being unfaithful to his wife, he is naturally deserving of any benefit of the doubt.

But let’s get to the crux of it: is adultery really newsworthy? On crude, intrusive level yes it is. On a civilized level, it is not. Why do I say this? Because Tiger Woods when you come down to it is a golfer. But not any golfer. He is hands down the greatest golfer ever on earth for all time. I, like others I’m sure, call him ‘the God of Golf’ but just ‘Golf’ for short. He truly is. Nicklaus’ record of 18 grand slams now looks like a literary device to merely mark off when exactly Tiger Woods crossed over to immortality (if he has not achieved it already) in the world’s great narrative. He tries to portray that he is a good human being, great father and husband, etc. but really all that is irrelevant to him as a golfer. It’s the distracting annoying unhealthy icing on the cake. Golf is the cake. Tiger doth baketh a cake. And lo’ and behold it was very good cake. So we ignore the icing.

And more importantly, adultery is as old as the notion of marriage, and a wholly private matter between two people.

So the whole media storm was simply about a hypocrite who cheated on his wife.

What an utter waste of time.

Now let’s also face facts. Forbes has estimated that by 2010, Tiger will be sports first billionaire. He is young. 34. The greatest golfer ever. He picks up millions like spare change. He is (or used to be) adored by millions. He is in his physical prime. He is good looking. For every good virgin woman who can adore him by a picture there are double the amount of women who would like to bang him simply because he is Tiger Woods. And these are very good looking women who are probably prepared to do just about whatever he wants, conversation even.

Oscar Wilde once said the best way to be rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Tiger should have gotten Wilde before getting married.


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Fahri Azzat practices the dark arts of the law. Although he enjoys writing and reading, he doesn't enjoy writing his own little biographies of himself. Like this one. He wished somebody else would do it for him. He has little taste in writing about himself in third person. He feels weird doing it. But the part he finds most tedious is having to pad up the lack of his accomplishments, or share some interesting facts about his rather uneventful life, as if there were some who found that oh-so-interesting; as if he were some famous person, like Michael Jackson. When he writes these biographies, the thought, 'Wei, Jangan Perasaan- ah!' lights up in his head. So he usually just lists what he got involved with, positions he held and blah, blah. But this time. Right here. Right this very moment. Uhuh. This one. This one right here. He's finally telling it like it is.

Posted on 31 December 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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11 Responses to In Defence of Tiger Woods

  1. I'm afraid I have not obtained something snarky to say. I realize several good males and women with 4 youngsters; it is not an exceptiona­lly significant loved ones members except perhaps in Hollywood, precisely marriages tend to not last and women possess a tendency to not will need to put their figures on the line for motherhood­. These two seem to be about as normal as it will get in Celebrityl­and; congratula­tions on their fourth child and upcoming 12 yr anniversar­y.

  2. Googs

    The sudden aversion to everything Tiger is only natural. It is just another living testament of how much we have become so inclined to punish public figures – celebrities, royalty, sporting greats, leaders, or otherwise.

    Let's face it. As much as we may all be hypocrites, in one way or another, we're masochists too. We can't help but find fault in others, pass harsh judgments, and indulge in seeing others – especially those who seems to have it all – fall. Not too long before Tiger Woods, there was Michael Jackson and before him..well, surely there were many more.

    Of course, it is unfortunate for Tiger Woods that:(i) until recently, he had been the poster boy for all the best things this world has to offer, and (ii) infidelity is never a subject that sits well with any society, come what day and age. But really, it is not about the hype surrounding a hypocrite who cheats on his wife being a sheer waste of time. It is, at least to me, about what sells. Tiger Woods' fall from grace is what we (well, i can at least say for the most of us) want to listen, read and talk about. The media (needless to say, ever-so-willingly) is only feeding us with the juicy bits. The corporate sponsors, meanwhile, are merely saving themselves before the raised public eyebrows gets the better of them (or worse, their business).

    Dont get me wrong, I am not one for a Benthamite reasoning here. But we live in a capitalist world after all, and now Tiger Woods has become its latest victim. And for that I pity him. It may not worth much to him at all, but I do. One can only imagine the pain that he must bear now. A pain so severe thar even all his riches (or what's left of it) can hardly ease – the pain of rejection. We have selfishly put him at so high a pedestal that we forget that he's as much of a human as we are,and now we're selfishly punishing him for being a human too.

    So now one dares to hope that one day Tiger Woods will rise again. When that day comes, it will certainly be the true measure of the man that he is.

  3. the original ultrama

    To a certain extent you are right Fahri.

    But when a public figure invades us the public, he or she loses the right to be private. Take Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes for example. They are public figures but they don't use the public and they don't feed off them. They don't invade the public. And so the public by and large leave them alone to enjoy their privacy. Contrast them to David Beckham for instance. He and his skinny weeny living skeleton of a wife invade the public. They feed off the public's desire for themselves. They sold rights to their baby's pictures etc. They make everything very public, just for the heck of it or for the money which comes from doing so. The public soon own them.

    Tiger is the almost the same. He feeds off the public. He might win a lot of prize money because of his talent but he gets even more and more from feeding his image to the public. The difference between his skills and talent and his image become blurred in the process. How many people tune in to watch the Masters because they wanted to watch good golf or because they wanted to watch Tiger playing golf? How many buy Nike golf attire because it is good or because Tiger wears it?

    At one point, Tiger became public property. And he shouldnot blame the public for clamouring for a piece of his butt.

    And probably for his wife's too. :)

  4. the original ultrama

    There is a point of time when "public figures" become the property of the public. That's what I think.

    That is because public figures feed off the public. They earn a living from the public. At certain point, (I wouldn't confess to know at which or what point), they become owned by the public.

    Tiger is but an example of that.

    As for hypocrisy, oh well…it is just a matter of the level of hypocrisy. Society and good manners demand that we become hypocrite sometime. I mean, would you tell your spouse that she is fat? Or tell your daughter who had just cooked her first fish curry to impress you, her dad, that her curry is close to dish washing water?

    As for the poster "leekh", well, I think somewhere within your cranium, there is a leekhage!

    • Hi everybody,

      Thanks for the comments. It is appreciated.

      To the comment that Tiger Woods has let down his sponsors, let me show you another perspective. Let us first remind ourselves of some important things. Firstly, though he may be the god of golf, he is still a human being in just about everything else. His emotions – love, hate, rivalry (haha), jealousy, desire, etc. His other interests – charity, youth development, etc. He has to do the same things as you and I. Take a dump. Wipe his own ass. Feed himself. Shave. Do not be fooled by his invincibility in one narrow area in life – hitting and stroking a small ball with a long stick accurately. It is all too easy to forget. Secondly, as a human being he is the best golf player in the world ever. That's it. He is not the most cleverest, nor jump the highest, nor swim the fastest, etc. or in tennis because there Federer is the god of tennis (but I still call him Federer).

      With these two things in mind, let us now consider how he came to be Tiger Woods. He loves the game, was disciplined enough to harness his abundant natural talent and went out there and achieved all those things. His success was built on his own hard work. Now when companies saw how successful he was/could still be they wanted to associate themselves with him. It's natural. Associating themselves with Tiger Woods would be great for their image because his amazing abilities allows him to be successful. In this day and age you have to pay for such a right. So they pay him money to associate themselves with him, but never so much as the benefit they would receive from their association with him. If it were not so, it would not make economic sense to associate with him. You see what I mean?

      But that payment does not give them the right to make Tiger Woods guarantee that he will not ever change as a human being, will go on winning for ever, and will not be human by screwing up other parts of his life himself. How can you ask a human being to guarantee himself or herself against the inevitability of change, of failure? To ask that of any human being is too cruel. We are comprised of a many different sometimes contradictory impulses. The man I am now may not be the man I want to be. The man I want to be may not be the man I cannot help but be. And let's be honest with ourselves MasK, do we really show the burning pulsating truth of ourselves to just about everybody, for Tiger millions of people? Do you think his sanity could take it? We, as you appropriately nick yourself, wear 'masks' depending on our environment. We take our masks off in front of our family, or perhaps put on a different one. There is one for your friends, one for your relatives that you don't like, another for strangers, another for business associates, etc. Would you, MasK, use the mask when you are with your lover with your enemies?

      In reply to your comment MasK, 'perhaps you have never met any obsess fan before… whereby they will definitely follow whatever their chosen role model is doing', the problem I believe lies in the person obsessed instead of the role model. They need psychiatric help to be able to evaluate, make decisions and take responsibility for themselves. Consider this scenario. X is a superstar. Y is some unknown obsessed fan of X that lives far, far away. X kills himself. Y does so because of him. X is responsible for someone's death he didn't even know simply because he is well known? The problems with Y goes much further back of which X was merely a symptom. Why was Y obsessed with X in the first place? It's escapism. Did Y have problems with school? family? friends?

      In reply to your comment ultraman, everybody earns a living off the public in some way. The roti seller, newspaper vendor, car washer makes his living off the public. The cendol seller, the lawyers, the doctors, etc. Does that give us the right to pry into the life of that super successful cendol and rojak seller in Damansara Utama? That's just business. Because someone like Tiger earns more because of our interest in him, we now blame him for the wealth we have given him so willingly in the first place where sponsorships and attention are concerned? Don't forget he is super rich also because he has won more tournaments than anybody except a handful of people in the game of golf. Tiger Woods is a golfer who has been given public figure status by virtue of our powerful interest in him. A public figure per se is someone who has been elected to Parliament or at the State Legislature, who hold public office, etc.

      In reply to Wang, I did not mean that the ends justifies the means. The point for me is subtler. What I meant was that these are the common type of hypocrisy that we all have practised at some time or other in the broader sense i.e. we sometimes appear to be more than what we really are because sometimes it is painful to live with the fact that though we are special and unique in one way, are also quite mediocre and needing of improvement in others. So yes, Tiger screwed up and he did so just like many other men in all over the world. I read somewhere a theory that his wife found his mobile and went through the smses when he left it at home to go out for a poker game. If that were true – for all his godhood in golf, how more common can you get than that? So let's give him a break. He is in enough trouble and probably pain already as it is. There's no need for all the rest of us to get all righteous on him.

      I completely agree with kruel74.

      I just want to see him back at his best because it is our privilege and honour to do so.

      We may never see another like him again for a very, very long time.

      And who would be the poorer for that?

  5. MasK

    leekh, I demand a public apology from you or my curse will be with you forever.

    to other Muslims who read leekh's statement and do not dare to say anything, go and read Quran 29:1-11

    .

  6. leekh

    Hypocrite? Think of this…how many wives had the prophet Mohamad pbuh? And how many "others". Aren't we pretenders all?

  7. MasK

    this is insane! insane!

    haha. kidding. yeah… u got points there, alrite.

    only that the difference between u and me and tiger is that he got paid at bloody high amount to be a hypocrite. at least u and me, when we becomes hypocrite ourselves, we didnt harm anyone except ourselves. but tiger on the other hand, he harmed everyone, inside (family) – out (fans, sponsors) etc.

    if he knows he is not a trophy guy in the first place, then he shouldn't accept the offer to be the role model to millions of his fans…

    if i am one of the sponsors for tiger, i will definitely sue him because i felt cheated with this news of his true self (even if i myself, have the same problem as him, but the thing is that i didnt hurt anyone except myself and i have nothing to lose, no?)

    it's definitely an expensive mistake he made and created for himself… which he thinks he can get away with it…

    ~what goes around comes around~

    "What an utter waste of time".

    i wonder… when you wrote this statement… have you really thought about the real impact as a whole? perhaps you have never met any obsess fan before… whereby they will definitely follow whatever their chosen role model is doing… including shaving hair like Britney…

    Happy New Year. Cheers!

  8. As another lawyer, I can see your point of view. As a man, I am willing to go the distance. As someone who won't get anything out of all this, I actually hope he gets past it and go do what he does best, putting it into holes…

  9. Wang Yik Ling

    He made a public vow in marriage, he made millions in sponsorship that not only desired his professional achievements but the combination of that and the image of the man that he is which he projected.(This is why Nike kept him but “The Best A Man Can Get” and “What Will You Do Next” decided to drop him.)
    So nothing about this private scandal is private, by his own doing.

    It also seems that the writer’s point in paragraph four could be distilled as, “the end justifies the means”. While I personally am a fan of that defense and philosophically it sounds succinctly profound, the usual the questions come to mind, “To what length?” and “At what price?”

    The path to hell is paved with good intentions.

  10. Good observation Fahri.

    But this world is cruel. Tiger wants to play, Tiger has to pay.

    Would the media do the same if he is just an ordinary man in the street?