Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tiger's Troubles

Some people are outstanding in particular areas of their lives. Case in point, Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton. Tiger is an exceptional golfer; Clinton is an exceptional politician. That is what they offer us and that is all we have a right to expect. But Americans are naive. We want our heroes to be well-rounded in their perfection and free of human frailty. We like them perched up there high on their pedestals.

But, we are almost always doomed to disillusionment because, of course, it is the rare person who can live up to what we require of them to remain on that pedestal.

Most of us are fortunate if we excel in one endeavor, be it sports or art or invention. It doesn't follow that having reached that level of achievement, we are free of fault in every other part of our lives. Being the best at politics, golf, investing, singing, etc. doesn't protect us from exhibiting weakness regarding sex or gambling or substance abuse.

Come on, people, Tiger is a golfer for God's sake. He fascinates us by providing us a show that no one else can. He enthralls us with his incredible talent. Isn't that enough? No? Well, how about the massive amount of money he donates to charity through his foundation? Still not enough?

Oh, you say he has to also be true to his wife, loving toward his family, appreciative of his fans and, in addition, he has to go to church every Sunday. Well, you know what? I think you better find yourself another hero/heroine. Mother Teresa is the only one I can think of who might have met your criteria.

And Bill. We elected him to be our president. We hoped he'd be an excellent one and for the most part, I believe he was. He was known as a president who worked his heart out for us. Spent less time on vacation and at Camp David than any of the others. Put our budget in surplus. Lowest unemployment rate ever. Highest stock market ever. No piddley little wars, like Grenada, to stroke his ego. But, he faltered on the rocky shore of sex as we all know and was impeached as a result. No flawed leaders allowed in our White House! Like there are any other kind.

You can be a great football player and be violent; you can be a great baseball player and be a gambler; you can be a great actor and be an alcoholic; you can be a great politician and be addicted to sex. As far as I'm concerned, none of that is any of our business unless it affects the bargain you made with us and that's to satisfy us on the field, on the stage or in the Senate.

We don't own these people's lives because we watch them or listen to them or elect them. There is no such thing as a role model. We should teach our children to admire skill without expecting perfection and to assume that professional honor may not carry over into the personal. Greatness is something to be aspired to but for most of us, there will be some slips along the way. Those slips don't necessarily negate our accomplishments.

Tiger is still the world's best golfer. Can we continue to respect him for that?