By Elizabeth Tenety
It’s beginning to look a lot like scandal.
After a week of swirling rumors and allegations following a bizarre 2 a.m. car crash in front of his home, golf legend Tiger Woods today admitted to “transgressions,” “letting his family down” and not being true to his values.
Woods stopped short of admitting to an affair, but the evidence against him appears to include a desperate voicemail to his mistress in an attempt to shield the affair from his wife and, according to US Magazine, “more than 300 racy text messages” which his “other woman” provided to the tabloid.
In today’s press release, the married man and father of two young children used religious language to indicate that he wants to deal with his foibles privately: “Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.”
But with so much of his life lived publicly — from becoming the youngest golfer to win The Masters at age 21, to working high-profile endorsements including one with Nike reportedly worth $105 million, and promoting his Tiger Woods Foundation for underprivileged youth — Woods should have known better.
It was Woods’ other-worldly talent, picture-perfect smile and apparent family values that made him an international icon.
With today’s admission, the once untouchable Woods is now the latest in a long line of athletes, celebrities, politicians and religious leaders whose private misbehavior has had major public consequences.
It does seem that public life leads some people to become desensitized to the consequences of their behavior. See Divine Impulses’ interview with former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey for his insight on being spiritually anesthetized by politics.
Yet another possibility is that when we see figures like Woods fall, we’re really seeing a reflection of our own human struggles.
According to an in-depth study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, nearly a quarter of married men and one in six married women admitted to committing adultery. So in one crude way, Woods is more like the rest of us than we may have previously thought.
Either way, Woods’ admission of ‘sin’ (to use his word) is a disappointment to his fans and likely a financial liability to his sponsors.
When will those in the spotlight learn that we’re counting on them? Can our national heroes publicly sin and remain worthy of adoration?