We remain transfixed on an icon, hoping against hope the old glory will return. If you were around for the Tiger run or halfway paying attention to the world of golf in the last 20 years, you were witness to something extraordinary. As the fictional shark in the classic horror film Jaws was depicted the perfect eating machine, Tiger was likely the most efficient closer in sports history, more aptly, a “perfect” winning machine. For the sake of appearances that seemed to be the case, that’s the story the marketing gurus led us to believe. How better to sell us shoes? Tiger Woods won with a tenaciousness not seen often in the world. He was the legend of John Henry incarnate, swinging his hammer at an impossible rate. The promise of Muhammed Ali making good on declarations before entering a ring. He was Vito Corleone with an offer we simply could not refuse. His audience tuned into a pristine Sunday theater watching the red shirted gladiator eviscerate his opponents with a cold malevolence buffeted only by the tip of a Nike embroidered cap and a handshake. He, Tiger Woods, was the perfect iconic sports figure for the better part of a decade.
Those of us who were and still unabashed supporters of Tiger are left after the wreckage of his downfall to defend his greatness and sift about the shrapnel of his historic demise as an epic hero. There is an old adage….something to the effect of “don’t get too close to your heroes”. Your heroes are human flesh and bone with many of the same failings as the guy cutting you off in traffic. It’s often difficult to see them in the vivid magnification of a microscope. Prone, unprotected, decidedly pedestrian. The article The Secret History of Tiger Woods, by Wright Thompson is a very well written examination of who Tiger Woods may really be. How Superman for all his strength is really just Clark Kent, without the snug fitting pajamas. Our real guy doesn’t stand a chance with Lois Lane. He might not stand a chance with her personality filled sister. A guy searching like the rest of us, a little lost, his internal compass amiss. It’s a strangely jolting essay that conjures something in the empathetic realm stirring, at least for myself, a distant compassion for our protagonist. Tiger is a real dude, just not the one his endorsers are paying vast sums of money to promote their products. That guy is an impossibly mythic embodiment of what so many want to be the absolute….the truth as it were.
Looking at the people I follow, you know, the people who are the cool kids in class. The athletes, the entertainers, the difference makers in this world, we are so often let down by their mortal and often moral failings. After all, whom better to judge than the spectator? It just shouldn’t be, things should remain on script, heroes should never get grimy tinged with the soot of reality. In the case of Tiger, I can’t say I was surprised….I don’t know the man. When you know someone, not through the portal of spectacle, but through genuine fellowship, you have earned the “right” to be surprised. We the audience, the patrons of the world Coliseum haven’t earned that right. We haven’t the right to demand inclusion into Tigers world, yet our insatiable curiosity somehow continually prevails when it comes to this cat. We simply must know how the machine works. The all-powerful Oz must relieve us of his mystery and spill forth the secrets in his closet. Does he not have a debt to pay? It really should be “little glass houses for you and me”, not pink…John Mellencamp should rewrite his song, maybe we should make a demand? For all we really know, this article is another in the fabric of innuendo and supposition melded with some facts and some first person account. I dare not debate the veracity of this composition….it’s really fine work and I couldn’t stop my consumption. Guilty as charged, I loved the work. I am a patron after all.
I have but one hope after reading this piece. My hope is that Tiger comes back healthy. That he gets the opportunity to do what he does best and ultimately decides to leave on his terms when he sees fit. He owes us nothing, but selfishly, I want to be watching on a future Sunday rooting for Tiger the golfer. As for Tiger the man, I wish him and his family well. We know not the reality of his world. We can pretend to, but we don’t know. Honestly, do you know your next door neighbor as well as you think you do? “He was such a quiet guy, kept his yard up, always said hello…..I’m just appalled he was keeping body parts in the freezer”. So while articles like these are a form of perverse entertainment, remember, we still don’t know the whole Secret History of Tiger Woods. Only the people that are part of his inner circle are in the know….and I guarantee many of them might not know about the shallow grave in his backyard.
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