Dear Tiger…

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...full text also found on The Huffington Post

Over the past several weeks we've all read hundreds of articles about how this Tiger has lost his stripes. Many speculate as to his egocentricity, infidelity, taste, athletic prowess, and, quite possibly, his stupidity. This morning Tiger said that "everyone... has good reason to be critical of me." Despite the above, and especially after this morning's apology, Tiger is in need of an encouraging word. Like sportswriter Joe Posnanski, I only wish I knew what it was.

Rene Hoyo, an avid Woods fan from Long Beach, CA argues that Woods-gate is more about us than it is about Mr. Woods, his family and his foibles. Rene asks, "why are we more excited by this story than we seem to be by discussions of the global economy, climate change, terrorism and health care? What does it all mean?" Mainly,Hoyo says, it means that we all might be suffering from psychologial egoism--being motivated by self-interest--and that our society needs drastic change of values. Given pessimism about such change we can evision two scenarios playing out in Woods's apology today.

Let's call Scenario 1 "Shallow Shame and Judgment": Tiger says, "For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology." This means that Tiger has not lived up to his "squeaky clean" and public image of perfect control. Tiger needs to admit what he's done and take the blame for it. Tiger needs to apologize. Tiger needs to lose his endorsements. Tiger needs to go to therapy. Tiger needs to amend his pre- and post-nups. Tiger needs to pay these women to be quiet. Tiger needs to take a break from golf, from women and from the public eye. Tiger needs to make a great comeback. To quote Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, "The only thing we love more than scandal is redemption. So Tiger, what you did was terrible. But the 90% is really all about what you do next."

Let's call Scenario 2 "Keeping it Real." Tiger says, "I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect." And, that "real apologies are "not in form of words." Those feelings should be shared by us alone." Then we ask ourselves whether it's really fair for audiences to demand anything from Tiger off of the golf course. For what, exactly, does he need to apologize to fans? How has he violated your trust or mine? His status as professional golfer doesn't make him a role model, does it?

Those of us who are fans of his athleticism should be able to separate the personal and professional, the private and public. But we seem unable to do so. Ayishah Williams, a mother from Long Beach, CA, tried to explain this today to her 6-year-old son who idolizes Woods. "He hits the golf ball perfectly," Williams's son says, "so why isn't he perfect in other aspects of his life?" Williams told her son that people can be different from our perceptions of them. Nat Saldivar, a sociology student in Los Angeles, CA, thinks "it's because we'd rather focus on Tiger's misery than our own. Perhaps Tiger could find the time and space to heal if we all took some time to clean out our own closets before diggng further into his."

There's also the theory that Tiger is struggling with an identity crisis. In today's apology he admitted that there's good reason "to question who I am and how I could've done these things." It's hard to forget his 1997 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he coined "Cablinasian"--an abbreviation that connects his multiracial Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian backgrounds--as a viable racial identity. This caused quite the press storm, especially in light of the upcoming "Check All That Apply" 2000 U. S. Census, and was therefore received divergently. Some, like Gary Kamiya of Salon.Com, claimed that Woods's self-identification pointed the way toward a post-racial future. Others wanted to boil Tiger's identity down simply to black.

We can see this treatment with regard to the present scandal as companies like Accenture and Gatorade have dropped Tiger like hotcakes. According to Dr. Ulli Ryder, Professor at Brown University's Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, "as rumors continue to fly that Tiger has impregnated at least one of his mistresses, we will also be witness to new examples of illicit interracial relations in the media. Despite Tiger's best efforts, the racial choice still seems to be black or unraced. Apparently, the multiracial chic of Vin Diesel, Jessica Alba and Dwayne Johnson isn't an option for those who behave badly."

What does this mean for Tiger's children? What does this mean for the status of those who've identified with Tiger and as mixed race? As someone who has struggled with multiracial identity over the years, and as someone of Tiger's generation, I can say undoubtedly that this kind of identity crisis...of being a racial unknown and therefore a social and political unknown...has profound effects on other aspects of life. In other words, it's not surprising that we're seeing trends in who Tiger finds physically attractive, the faith and values he holds, the products with which he affiliates and the recreational activities and hobbies in which he engages.

In the final analysis I think Tiger is not unlike any of us. Honestly, aren't we all thirsting for something larger than money, golf, sex, success or even global super-celebrity can offer? To wax poetic about it, I think Tiger is looking for the kind of thirst-quenching water that will satisfy him so he'll never thirst again. Indeed, the kind of water that will become a spring in him that wells up to something that will stand the test of time. Perhaps Tiger will find this water so he won't get thirsty and have to keep searching in empty wells to draw it out. Perhaps, by searching humbly within and by keeping it real, the rest of us can find our water too.

Dear Tiger, I hope you find your water. I hope you quench your thirst. I wish you the best of luck on your way.


Tiger is interesting now

hey marsh, did i ever send this to you?

i went to law school with this woman and find some of her stuff interesting. here is a link to her website and she might be a good contact/resource for you:


More Tiger News

I saw this online and thought I should share. I was also watching the news and 49% of respondents felt that it was the right time for Tiger to make a comeback.. Seems like we were pretty accurate about forgiveness and him having a comeback as quickly as he did.

~Rafaela S.

Woods as mixed race

You raise some good points here.

"I realised that is not how others saw it. Several conversations I overheard and some I had, saw mixed-race Woods and Cole as cheating "black" men. John Terry was just John Terry the charlatan. His race didn't count."

--Andrew L.

Another good perspective

I just found this website "Mixed & Happy." It offers some interesting insights that might be applied to Woods's identity and family. Worth checking out.


Still a Tiger

Marcia, great commentary. You took several words and points right out of my mouth.

While it is true that we do tend to relish in peoples mistakes and misfortunes, we do have a knack to root for someone when they are on the road to redemption. That is something that I personally look forward to whenever I hear of some celebrity in trouble.

Case in point, no one could have been more excited upon hearing of Britney Spears performing on the MTV Awards (I think) than me. I was truly excited and rooting for her before she actually took the stage. Needless to say, I was just a bit disappointed afterward, but I braced myself right after for another appearance from Ms. Spears, and I am not even a fan!

Tiger will get through this and maybe now the media and the world will realize that none of the celebrities are squeaky clean. Matter of fact, none of us are.

Thanks Marcia, see you soon.
Mark Norris

Great Online Debate

Here's great online debate on whether Tiger Woods really matters today.

Just Like A Human Being!

Tiger...the son I never had. FYI - I have never had children, so often I see a soul that I love and refer to them as such. Nobody needs to tell Tiger what he did is wrong - he knows it. The formal apology, even though not required is usually one of the first steps in counseling that a patient is told to do for those they have negatively affected in the process of their bad behaviors. Allow him the moment to feel the pain and digest the apology as well as the consequences of his actions. This is how people learn in life. I bet there are some people each one of us could apologize to no matter long ago we hurt them.

I believe Tiger did what so many others do, but don't always get caught. I also believe that Tiger never "sowed his oats" as most young men do before they marry - or at least they try to. He was too busy hitting golf balls. Does this justify his behavior - No! But what it does is give you another thought process as to why he utilized his testosterone and mixed it with selfish thoughts and desires. Like a kid in a candy shop is this really anything new?

Will he learn from his mistakes? Hopefully so, but time is the only messenger of that answer. If Tiger was to approach me today, I would want to hug him as well as spank him. Sorry, the mother just came through for a moment. Trust me, he is and will continue to deal with the karma he has caused to enter his life. Imagine being in his shoes for just a moment. Before anyone decides to "cast the first stone" take a long look at your life from the beginning of your memories until now. All we can do is give him and his family the privacy and respect they deserve.
--Ginger Jenkins

Tiger's apology

It's true - Tiger does not owe the public an apology. Who he apologizes to is his business. But really...I think we can all look at Tiger and many other public figures in the past who have fallen from the public's grace, and see their public apologies as an example. How many of us can say that we apologize to those we hurt when we hurt them? We hold people in the public eye to a standard higher than what we hold ourselves. When I say "we", I mean everyday, normal, ordianry people. Why do we put such high expectations on public figures and demand apologies when we can't deliver such grandiose apologies to those in our social sphere? Let's remove the speck from our eye before we tell the public figures to remove the specks from theirs.
To those of you who owe anyone an apology, now is the time to do so. Mend your bridges, but don't polnt the finger at Tiger and expect justice when you owe justice yourself.

Sarah Reynoso

Carrying our water

I enjoyed reading your blog about Woods. "How this Tiger has lost his stripes" really got my attention. That's a very interesting and attractive way of starting the communication. I can see that you are using all the concepts that you taught me in our communications class.

Nice closing too. I totally agree that sometimes we seek to get more even though what's been given to us is more than enough. Humans have all the knowledge and the ability to tell what is moral and what is not, but we tend to consciously commit or do it anyway because we know that we'll get a chance to apologize. Unlike animals, we unconsciously repeat the same routine everyday, but that's okay for many of us because we are not aware of it.

I guess we just have to carry our water everyday, and try to remember that we already have a springing water inside us--be thankful for what you have.

Renton Isaac

Dear Tiger...

The hoopla with Tiger Woods is both a complex and simple one. It all depends on what kind of person YOU are. Personally, I find it very simple indeed. The man is a great golfer and he just so happens to be a human being, with everything that goes with that status, the good, the bad, the ugly. Sure, we all have made him rich, because we enjoy his talent, we bet on his talent, and we, perhaps, see ourselves in some odd way as the winner who takes it all when he does. The notion however, that he is in the public eye and thus the public (which, unfortunately includes me) has the right to know everything about him. Well, let me be the one to disagree. Scott does NOT have the RIGHT to know everything about Tiger Woods. What Tiger does behind closed doors should be between him, his family, friends and his God (if he has one), case closed.
I don't care one bit about what Tiger did or didn't do. He is not my friend, he is not part of my family. He is a great golfer who is a human being. For some, this might be too simple, but you know what? I have more important things to worry about then what some golfer or "star" does on his or her off time. I care about my family and friends and for them I have to be there. Tiger I do not know. I don't want to know him. So, I don't care.
I wish him the best. It is not a good thing to be judged by a world that can't seem to understand that judging ought to start in one's own backyard.

Great post

Good piece. We have to talk Tiger....! That boy is wild, but I can't beleive how poeple are fixated.


Tiger's Prowl

Not a high-level analysis or anything, but I guess I’ll add my take on the matter…

I’m studying and working as a journalist right now—a sports journalist, for that matter—so to not bring up the media’s fault in this entire scandal would be unfair. The media is constantly searching for a story and, more "importantly," one that will sell. The flow of information is in some ways controlled by the media, but they do take cues from society’s pulse—what’s hot now, what people want to read, who’s in and who’s not—to determine what’s promoted. Tiger’s a hot topic. Gossip sells. Scandals really sell. I have to agree with you, that people would rather focus on his misery than his or her own. To see a public figure brought down to size, so to speak, allows them to feel superior for not being caught up in those transgressions. Sure, none of us are perfect, but it’s the notion that "at least my life isn’t as screwed up as his" when, in actuality, there are so many other facets of life that could be screwed up. This sort of news shows where some of society’s priorities are…and it shows that we need to reprioritize.

Parents also had a definite role in this. Young basketball players want to be like Mike. Young golfers want to be like Tiger. Tiger, who is perhaps the most recognizable athlete in the world, is a role model to these kids. I’m sure that parents are having a hard time explaining what Tiger has done to get him in the news so much and why it was wrong, so I’m sure that they are some of the people championing for an apology. Regardless of what Charles Barkley’s "I am not a role model" commercials says, athletes do serve as role models and should be aware of that. Parents should be responsible for kids, but more and more often, we see the media raising children instead. When something doesn’t go to plan, parents are finally forced to parent.

Like it or not, Tiger is a public figure and, unfortunately, this usually leads to much less privacy than what is afforded to private citizens. When someone chooses to use their talent in the public arena, whether it is as an actor, politician, or athlete, it can be assumed he or she will know that their life will be under the microscope, with every move scrutinized, fairly or unfairly.

It’s inevitable that people become invested in these public figures; they develop a parasocial relationship with them. (How about that? I did pay attention in class.) In other words, we—those with the relationship with the public figure—have some sort of "established" connection with that figure, one that feels real. When that person we have a relationship with goes against the grain, does something that violates the morals and values that we hold them to (not the values and morals the figure actually has), a person generally feels as though they have been betrayed or violated. The public outcry that ensues typically calls for justification—how could someone we "know" and love do this to us?—and, in response, there will usually be some sort of public apology to the fans (even though, honestly, they do not owe us anything), and some will end up being grilled by Larry King or on Oprah’s couch in an attempt to regain that credibility we had attributed to them.

Tiger doesn’t owe us anything. Tiger doesn’t owe anything to those who live vicariously through him. He owes it to himself to fix what needs to be fixed privately, to concentrate on his family and return when he sees fit. He needs to do what he needs to do. When he does return, will people who admonish him now tune in? Of course. Ratings will probably be higher for this highly-anticipated event. Will those who say they will not cheer for him cheer for him? Yeah. Regardless of what people say in public, there is always the desire to root for the “broken” person. A desire to see someone overcome an obstacle. A desire to watch a winner. A desire to feel a part of the glory. When Tiger returns—and when he wins—people will cheer (and so will media outlets). Just like always.

Steph Bee

We all need to keep it real

Thank you for sharing such an insightful take on this "scandal". Tiger owes none of us anything. We all have our issues, both large and small, and I agree that infidelity is a symptom of those that Tiger is struggling with. We need to take the logs out of our own eyes and quit using others as a distraction from ourselves.


Re: We all need to keep it real

I agree with the previous commenter. Tiger owes none of us anything. Now, I will diverge a bit and say I was enthralled by gossipy tidbits, but only as much it was something quite entertaining. But whether or not he needs to apologize to me or anyone outside of his family and/or the women he chased after, that's a definite NO.


“There is nothing new under the sun”, this historical statement was made by King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived. Tiger Woods is no better or worse than Solomon or anyone else. All he’s done has been done before and by many people. Another historical example is King David of Israel. David was an adulterer, murderer, warrior, over-indulgent father (Absalom, his son, turned on him and tried to take his kingdom away by force). Yet, among other things, he is said to be “A man after God’s own heart.” Isn't that interesting? Tiger owes none of us (the public) an apology.


Interesting Take on Tiger


Wow. That is a great letter on Tiger Woods. I am so glad what you wrote and did and how you integrated John 4. You may have really hit the nail. As the Samaritan woman was confused about her relationships, Jesus spoke to her identity of her being a woman and Samaritan women (multi-ethnic). I am so glad you wrote the letter and sent it to Tiger Woods. I want to mention your “Tiger Wood” letter in my wider newsletter which goes out to a larger audience and send then a hyperlink to your blog.

David Hino