Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tiger Woods Being Unfaithful -- That's Par for the Course
In light of the recent saga involving Tiger Woods, his beautiful wife Elin Nordegren, their two children, at least three mistresses, a fire hydrant and a tree, I'm wondering now, more than ever, why high profile, superstar male athletes and celebrities enter into the state of eternal celibacy known as marriage?
I mean, these guys are getting ass thrown at them left and right, horizontally and vertically nearly 24 hours a day. That frequency must be double for athletes, like Tiger, who excel at individual sports where you don't have teammates, coaches, and other staff members present to block your game.
Part of the reason for this conundrum, I believe, is the reality that is lucrative, multi-million dollar endorsement contracts. Nike, Buick, and Gatorade aren't just throwing money at Eldrick because of his unmatched skill and precision on the golf course (although that composes the vast majority of their rationale), they're tapping Tiger to peddle their products because of the persona that he displays off of the links -- the family man with an exceptionally beautiful wife, two beautiful children, a dog, a (slightly damaged) Cadillac, and big backyard in the suburbs. Tiger also boasts a Stanford degree and raises more money for charity than any other athlete/celebrity short of Lance Armstrong and Bradgelina (that's Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie if you've been in a cave with Osama Bin Laden for the past decade).
All of these attributes make Tiger the type of guy that Tag Heuer wants to dial up to get you to buy a watch. Yeah, they could get Rocco Mediate but is Rocco the type of straw that stirs your drink? Do you even know who Rocco Mediate is? Exactly.
The point I'm attempting to make is that the type of celebrity that will likely make Tiger Woods the next billion dollar athlete is the same fame that is now eroding his once bulletproof public image. It's a double-edged sword for those who choose to go down that path...
...and then there's Derek Jeter. The 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year is a life-long bachelor (although he has been linked to several famous fems). He continues to excel on the field, winning a Silver Slugger and leading his New York Yankees to the 2009 World Series Championship who also boasts lucrative contracts from the likes of Michael Jordan's Jumpman brand and Gillette just to name a few. Jeter has managed to maintain a pristine image partly because he doesn't rock a platinum abstinence ring...I mean wedding band on his left ring finger and partly because he's not trying to hide any of his escapades. The media will usually grant you some semblance of privacy if you're dating respectable young women and not...I don't know...cocktail waitresses in VIP gentleman's clubs or former reality show "stars".
Derek Jeter has shown that being a single, star athlete and a marketable role model need not be exclusive ventures.
Now, I'm a person that is firmly rooted in the opinion (possibly a minority opinion) that the institution of marriage is an antiquated social (mostly religious) rite that no longer has reputable credence in modern culture. There is an abundance of psychological and physiological research showing what men and women have known since the dawn of time -- that a boner in the trousers will displace years of commitment and vows in a man's neo-cortex. (Interesting enough, there is increasing research showing that women are beginning to have sex for many of the same reasons that men do).
Couple this with the generally sociopathic personality that most athletes (and celebrities in general) display -- that "I can do anything, anywhere, with anyone that I choose and not be punished for it because I'm me" attitude that has been developed over decades of having everyone kiss your ass and tell you how great you are and how grateful everyone should be that you exist and you have a recipe for impending disaster.
In the end I don't feel bad for Tiger, or his wife, or his slightly damaged Cadillac. Tiger knew what he was getting into when he won his first major, inked his first endorsement deal, and said "I do". He knew that society, with its myopic memory and selective morality, would build him up taller than the Tower of Babel and them explode him in a controlled demolition at the first signs of human weakness -- weaknesses that they themselves may have displayed in the past, all be it with less fanfare and certainly fewer Us Weekly "reporters" and paparazzi around.
Elin knew what she was getting into when she took those nuptials after signing a pre-nuptial agreement. Come on, she couldn't have been under the delusional assumption that her vagina had the magical powers to keep arguably the world's most famous athlete tied to her bedpost, and her bedpost alone. Did she not talk to Tiger's mother and hear the stories about all of the young women that would call her house looking for an admit one (or two, or three) to Eldrick's themepark, The Tiger's Den?
And let's nip the claim by Tiger and his handlers that the golfer is entitled to some semblance of privacy as a human being. If this incident involved Eldrick Woods, the accountant with a membership at his local country club, then some measure of privacy would be granted by virtue of his relative anonymity. Unfortunately, this is Tiger Woods, world class golfer whose very image and monogram have become marketable items, appearing on everything from hats, to golf balls, to the labels of Gatorade sports drinks. Companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars to use your likeness on their products and consumers dole out 10 times as much to feel some tacit connection to their favorite athlete and icon. Like it or not, you're no longer a private citizens entitled to the privelege of relative reclusion. Your likeness belongs to the public domain and no matter how much you whine and cry foul, you can't have it both ways.
I feel bad for those two young children who, when they are old enough to read and discern, will find out that there beloved father was a philandering man-whore and that their beloved mother, when it's all said and done, was a gold-digging, 3-iron wielding 4-B (big-breasted blonde bimbo and an exceptionally beautiful one at that).
I feel bad for my late, great uncle Fred Jones, who grew up in the segregated south and worked as a caddy for $.50 for 18 holes. He introduced me to the game of golf. Some of my fondest memories are of the two of us sitting around the television on Saturdays and Sundays, watching his and my favorite golfer Tiger Woods stare down his foes as he stalked towards yet another major championship. I'll never forget the tears that streamed from his hardened face as Tiger sank that historic put on 18 to win the 1997 Masters. Thank God he didn't have to endure this charade.
I feel bad for a society with an over 50% divorce rate and, surely, a higher infidelity rate (remember, cheating is not just actions but thoughts and intentions as well) because, in between episodes of Tool Academy and Chemistry.com commercials, we're not intelligent enough to internalize the well documented fact that humans are designed to spread their DNA across as varied a gene pool as possible. In addition to being the greatest country in the history of modern civilization, we're also the most irrational.
Most importantly, I feel bad for Derek Jeter, a guy who has played the game of baseball and of life the right way, because, as long as he lives and as hard as he tries, he will never, ever get as much press and publicity in his lifetime as his good friend Eldrick "Tiger" Woods has gotten in the past week.
The so-called experts contend that there is no such thing as bad press and they may be right. The best thing that Tiger can do, short of facing the cameras in an interview with Oprah -- Elin and kids in tow, is win his next tournament at the end of January.
Humans are fickle creatures. We love front-runners and winners more than anything else. However, when all of the lights grow dim and the cameras and microphones are tucked away, Tiger will still have to live with his conscience...and at least 3 mistresses...and more women than ever vying to be the next one to receive a creepy voicemail at 2 in the morning...and the persistent questions about his character...and, oh yeah, a scorned wife in the master bedroom down the hall (because you know he's sleeping in the guest bedroom indefinitely).
A woman scorned? Now that's attention that neither I nor Derek Jeter would hope for at any time.