The perfect golf swing, as I understand it, involves having your upper body act almost independently of your lower body. Tiger Woods was so expert at this, he was actually able to use his upper body to take back his club while his lower body was banging every woman for miles around. Normally, I would feel this was none of my concern but a radio station in Kentucky asked to interview me about it for some reason and, in a distracted moment, I said yes.
Because of this (and it really was a mistake made in one of my many moments of absent-mindedness), I actually watched Tiger Woods’ apology on TV. I have to say, it was well crafted. They should hold on to the script and use it for the next guy who gets caught at this stuff. They probably will.
After watching it, and before going on the air, I had to ask myself: what do I have to say about this – an event I normally would not care a whit about? Well, (thought I) this is one of those many instances when the media want us to think they’re discussing sexual morality when what’s really being discussed is money.
Tiger Woods’ apology was an attempt to restore him to his position at the heart of an enormously profitable enterprise. Tiger accounts for something like 100 percent of all people who care anything about golf whatsoever. Which is not to mention all those endorsements. When Woods places his image on an ad for a product or service, he adds value to the advertisement by essentially saying: “If you use this product or service, you can be like me.” That works if you’re an admired champion – it might even work if you’re a prolific lover – but it’s not so snazzy if you’re a humiliated schmuck of a husband and father leaving slimy desperate messages on your paramour’s answering machine. So that pooch is screwed until his image is restored. His apology and his “in-patient” treatment are nothing more or less than a secular ritual meant to get that bit of business accomplished.
Because, of course, Tiger does not have an “addiction” or a “disease,” that can be “treated” in therapy. He’s just a male human with unlimited access to willing women and without the self-restraint required to handle that situation well. If we wanted to talk seriously about the morality of that, we’d have to talk about a whole raft of other matters. For instance, as a role model, Woods is influencing people to engage in behaviors that will have disastrous consequences for them, like illegitimacy and disease. He might be able to buy his way out of those consequences. Those he influences cannot.
But if Tiger owes us an apology for that so does every movie or sports star who has or fathers a child out of wedlock. So does every media outlet that glamorizes that behavior. So does every feminist who tells girls that promiscuity empowers them. So does every journalist who hides the personal and societal costs of fatherless children for ideological reasons. And so on. If this apology had to do with sexual morality instead of money, the very people playing the role of the high priests would be playing the role of penitents instead.
Well, but then, perhaps we all would.