Archive for June, 2011

The Condemnation of Tiger Woods: Technologies Impact

I recently came across a Fox News Sports blog which was pontificating as to whether Tiger Woods can make a come back. The article in and of itself was not what struck me, what struck me was the number of people who want Tiger to disappear from the world of golf altogether. The venom of some of their blogs read so personal. As if they were the wife, scorned and betrayed by his numerous infidelities and drug addiction. As if his golf legacy didn’t exist.

There was a suggestion that his difficulty in recovering from his knee and Achilles injuries was the result of retribution from God. People clearly felt betrayed. They thought this clean cut all American guy deceived them. They felt they knew him and rooted for him at a time when he appeared to lied to them about who he was and what he stood for.

I thought back to a time when the Internet, media coverage, numerous cable stations, magazine shows, and print and radio coverage was nothing in comparison to now.

As an inner city kid in New York my free time was spent courtside watching one or all of my brothers play in a pick-up basketball game. Football was on television or played it in the street. On other days it was stickball, but Golf “What’s that?”

At age 11 I visited my grandfather and step grandmother in Palm Springs, California. This would be the first time I would step onto a golf course. I would see where Bob Hope played and held his tournaments, and learn of Jack Nicklaus’ domination in the game of golf. By high school my best friend and her father went regularly to Rancho Park Golf Course, where her father would teach and practice the game with her.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I heard of a young “black” man named Tiger Woods, who until my early 40’s would dominate the game of golf.
Issues of long standing racism in the golf world came to the forefront of headlines news. A golf course would refuse a “black” man to play but Tiger Woods was not just any “black” man, he had quickly become the most dominating player in golf. White men wanted to play with him, he was an anomaly, his greatness as an athlete overrode his race thus those clubs that would refuse him came under scrutiny with both the public and media crying out, “let Tiger play.” Tiger is and was not just a golfer, he was a trailblazer regarding the issues of old money and old traditions colliding with the new realities of the day. Rules would have to change. Golf was historically reserved for the whites with exclusive country club memberships and golf courses.

Flashback to 1991 when Magic Johnson, a famous basketball player, had slept with numerous women. He didn’t stop during his commitment to his long time girlfriend, Cookie. He didn’t stop during his engagement nor did he stop into the early stages of their marriage until he was diagnosed with HIV.

By the time his HIV status was announced he had already exposed his wife and their unborn baby to the virus. He had also exposed a large number of women with whom he had slept with across the country. Miraculously, neither his wife nor child contracted the virus.

However, he retired for brief time and then returned after a controversial debate on the issue of potentially subjecting other players to the HIV virus. Inevitably, the discussion fell to the way side as his athletic prowess and personality continued to be in demand, and the Lakers remained a winning franchise.

Magic has a statue of himself outside the Staples Center. Officially retired for some years he continues be a highly respected businessman and highly paid national commentator in the field of basketball.

Fast forward, to 2008 when Tiger Woods life unravels. The world’s mouth agape watching woman after woman, escort after escort come forward waiving their flag, “I slept with Tiger Woods” “I ate hamburgers and watched movies with Tiger Woods” and “I had Ambien sex with Tiger Woods.” Did you say, “Tiger Woods had an countless number of escapades while married?” Yes.

Why the difference in the American people’s attitude toward Tiger Woods vs. Magic Johnson? Technologies mixed with righteousness are bad bedfellows. There are people everywhere who are not athletes, politicians, celebrities who are doing the same thing only they don’t live in the public eye.

Tiger played the role we the American people set him up to play. Had he behaved any differently than he did, the golf world would have not accepted him. Imagine for a moment in the early years if he came out and said, “I love white women.” “I’m having too much fun partying to settle down.” Imagine if he would have shown what he was thinking when dealing with people who made it clear they did not want him there. A basketball player is expected to be a player and I’m not talking about the game but the first great “black” golfer. Absolutely not.

Do I agree with how he allegedly conducted his personal life? No. He became a symbol for blacks, browns and whites alike that a “black” man could not only thrive in an all white sport, but more importantly he could beat the white man at his own game, golf.

People debate in blogs and articles if he has what it takes to overcome his injuries to beat Jack Nicklaus’s record. In the big picture of his career his personal life is far less consequential than his knee and Achilles and so we may never know. Tiger Woods represents more than a determined, disciplined and competitive athlete. He is the personification of the American Dream. That if you work hard enough there is hope for you too.

The Magic Johnson debacle happened at a time when the media did not have the resources to seek out every woman he had slept with, not even those he might have infected with the HIV virus. Instead, he was publically exonerated due to the media’s coverage which exhibited empathy and sadness of his HIV status. With today’s media coverage and the Internet Magic’s life and career would have been annihilated. Imagine women coming forward announcing they are spending the year getting tested until they are sure he did not give the virus to them. Imagine women who have slept with Magic Johnson seeking out Gloria Allred . Imagine the number of litigious women who would be encouraged to come forward.

Tiger will be villanized for sometime to come. Facebook, blogs, Twitter, coms, YouTube, multiple sports shows on cable, Cyrus and traditional media will insure that. Cell phones with cameras didn’t exist in 1985 where getting caught having sex with multiple women meant a reporter needed to be right there to get a picture of proof. Women didn’t come forward as a badge of honor for participating in the demise of another woman’s marriage by saying, “Yes”. Escorts were seen and not heard and those that were fans revered you as “the man” they wanted to be. Unfortunately, the end result with the public’s support is no longer to tell the story instead the “reality show” generation’s need to know it all is not only invasive like a missile seeking to destroy not only the person’s private life but exposes the lives and wounds of their loved ones.

Social media, dating sites, infidelity sites and chat rooms allow for every man to feel like a king, no longer living vicariously through their idols.
It’s easy to embarrass or shame someone. It’s much more difficult to support recovery and the seeking of redemption. We did it for Magic we can do it for Tiger and also for Tiger’s children whose lives will be deeply affected by our need to know more and the hate filled words etched permanently on the Internet.

Make it an Excuse Free Life!

Posted by Dr. Leslie Seppinni on June 13, 2011|Category: Career, Celebrity, Crisis, Excuse Free Living, Family & Parenting, Family & Relationships, Health, Infidelity, Life Coaching, Love & Relationships, Mental Health, Politics, Self Esteem, Self Help, Stress No Comments »