A Hero’s Betrayal

Please forgive me for flogging a horse that’s in palliative care, but in case you hadn’t heard, this week an adulterous bastard is playing professional golf for the first time in a few months.

When he wrote about Tiger Woods’ comeback a couple of weeks ago on The Drum, Gerard Whateley received a number of critical comments, including some of the first few which were posted:

Bark :

What twaddle. He didn’t “betray” you – He never made you a promise to behave in a certain way.

If you hold him in esteem it should be because of his golf skills, and the efforts that he continues to make publically to support youth and sport.

His bedroom life, however tawdry, is no more business of yours than yours is of mine.

iansand :

It is a man whacking a ball with a stick, not a Shakespearean tragedy. Get a grip. Deep breathing may help.

DannyW :

My sentiments exactly iansand. For goodness sake all you tragic sports fans are feeling more betrayed than his mistresses. Get a grip!

stu :

Lets get real about this. Woods is a sportsman he hits a small white ball around trying to get it in a hole in the ground. He is nothing more, he is not a religious figure, he is not a law maker, he is not an elected official in a position of power. He hits balls around for a living and he does it very well. I personally don’t give a damn about who he has had in bed and how often. Let him do what he does best, that it chase little white balls around the paddock.

Ania :

Well said stu. People really need to learn to separate professional lives with personal. There are so many cheaters out there. Tiger is just unlucky that nosy reporters are willing to investigate his personal life. He is a great golfer and crappy husband, so what?

“So what” is the question, and “so everything” would be a more than reasonable response. The “betrayal” that Whateley felt, and that was so widely criticised by his readers, is eminently understandable.

Participants in individual sports are entirely different to the men and women who play for our favourite teams. Members of our favourite teams step into the jersey of our side, and thus become a part of a long history of both the team and of our personal allegiance – when they win, we say “we won”. However golfers, like other individual sportspeople, actively seek our support for them as individuals. They ask us not only to spend our money in order to witness their incredible skills, but also to invest emotion in the outcome of their individual contests. They ask us to hope that they will win.

At the last event that Woods played, the Australian Masters in Melbourne, the Pro Shop at Kingston Heath stocked four Nike polo-shirts which were replicas of the shirts that Woods would wear on each of the four days of the tournament. Despite being twice the cost of an average polo shirt, they sold out at an incredible speed.

It might just be me, but I reckon some of those people didn’t just purchase the shirts because they thought that Woods was a fine golfer.

In Australia, a country that rarely cares for golf, we see it every January when the Australian Open tennis tournament comes around. People around water coolers love Federer for his charisma and charm, Roddick for his sense of humour and Hewitt for his fighting spirit and passion for Australia. Others hate Federer for his arrogance, Roddick for his treatment of officials and journalists and Hewitt for both his on and off-court personas.

Stu was right, of course. Woods is not a religious figure, he is not a law maker, and he is not an elected official in a position of power. That’s exactly the point. He’s a sportsperson who has asked fans to support him, and they have in droves whether or not they were previously interested in golf. Those who bought his polo shirt because he wore it, who bought his memorabilia to hang in their den, who sought or found hope or solace or pride in his progression from successful amateur to “the best athlete of the past decade” have every right to care about how often he broke his vows.

And those whose children have his poster on their walls and took  days off school – as some did during the Australian Masters – to see their hero in action have every right to choose not to separate Woods’ professional life from his personal life.

If you don’t want your hero, or your child’s hero, to be a cheater, and you belatedly learn that he has been just that while you’ve feted him and spent hours desperately wanting him to succeed, there’s no doubt that you will feel more betrayed than Woods’ mistresses. At least they knew what they were signing up for.

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1 Response to A Hero’s Betrayal

  1. Liz says:

    Thought-provoking and well-put as per usual, Edward P!

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