Charita Goshay: Tiger is mortal after all; why are we surprised?

Charita Goshay

For someone who pursues perfection for a living and as an avocation, Tiger Woods has made quite the mess.

Long before Thanksgiving, Woods’ carefully crafted image and undeniable mastery of his game inspired both pique and awe, so it’s no wonder there’s been an outbreak of schadenfreude at the news that he just shanked his life.

Though Woods is the singular reason that people who don’t even play golf watch it, he’s been long resented by some whites for his supreme confidence, obscene wealth and Swedish wife, and by some blacks, who carry a mixture of pride in and bewilderment about someone who seems so desirous to appease corporate America that he would triangulate his own identity. Cablanasian?

Of course, Woods’ faux pas triggers the inevitable blog-headed accusation that it’s simply a case of yet another overprivileged, oversexed black, er, Cablanasian athlete. That’s understandable because as we all well know, white jocks don’t cheat on their wives. Look it up.

Disappointment

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would be happy that a family with two small children is teetering on the brink of implosion, yet we nonetheless will feast on every scrap, every detail of their troubles, at least until the next star falls.

Celebrities also must understand that their fame does not give them the right to put their family at risk or, to put it bluntly, act a fool.

We now know that while Woods’ fan-boy golf media may not have abetted his behavior, they enabled it.

We also know that a guy who appeared to play it safe his whole life has done no such thing, and that he’s still such a square, he can’t even cheat properly:

“Hello, it’s TIGER ...”

Just as we wish to believe the worst about those we dislike, we also want to deny what we uncover about those we do admire.

Count me among those who are deeply disappointed by Woods’ behavior, especially for publicly humiliating his wife, whom he relentlessly pursued for a year before she would give him the time of day. The fact she has since given him two healthy children should be reason enough for his respect.

Women don’t want perfection; decency will do.

Beneath the mask

Woods’ fall from grace has engendered genuine shock, but the hard truth is, we don’t know any of these people.

We see them on television, or read well-crafted interviews, and look at their retouched photos, and we think we know the sum of their parts.

It’s a mystery why we feel this way about people we’ve never met, when we don’t really even know the people working in the cubicle next to us or, in some cases, the one sleeping next to us.

But perhaps we don’t want to know. Every person who has ever committed a crime or some heinous act has a loved one who never saw it coming.

In fact we all live out our lives behind custom-made masks, even as we wonder, “What would people think of me if they really knew me?”

We therefore shouldn’t be surprised that Woods has proved to be merely mortal after all, but we are because we still naively equate public success with private perfection, even character.

In sports, it’s said that you don’t learn anything from success. What may be the most spectacular failure of Woods’ so-called perfect life could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.

Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.