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Taming the tiger

By Rotimi Fasan

THE name Eldrick Tont Woods does not ring a bell as Tiger Woods, yet both names refer to the same person, the man famously known around the world as Tiger Woods.

The ‘Tiger’ in Woods’ name, as the world now knows, is a  nickname given him by a friend of his father’s. But the prominent thing about Tiger Woods is not just his name but his awesome skills as a golfer.

A golf prodigy by all standards, Tiger Woods is certainly the greatest golfer in recent memory, one of the greatest if not the greatest of all time, going by his record wins and achievements on the golfing course. He was recently voted Athlete of the Decade and amassed more wealth from sports than any other person in 2008.

Currently ranked World No.1, his emergence on the world stage as the youngest and first non-white person to win the Masters, at just twenty four, over a decade ago would assure him a place in sporting history if nothing else. But the same Tiger Woods would on 11th of December dramatically and prematurely retire from the game that
had brought him universal fame in what he would call a break.

His departure was informed by nothing on the golfing course but marital issues that are best left where they belong: in private. Woods is definitely a great player not just on the golfing field but also in the bedroom. His undoing was exposure of his many infidelities to his wife over a long period.

Specifically, Woods was shown to have consorted with all sorts of mostly white women of easy virtues, porn film stars, wannabe socialites and club types- characters little better than call girls which is what several of them are really.

But forcing Woods out in this manner doesn’t seem to have satisfied the American press that has continued to hound him and fed their orchestrated frenzy by raking up as much dirt as they could possibly find, all apparently aimed at making a monster out of the hitherto gentle picture that Woods had carefully cultivated and exuded over the last twelve years.

Some are even going to the preposterous level of snooping for evidence of wife battery even when Woods’ wife has never complained of any such thing. Up until this latest exposure, Tiger Woods had conducted himself remarkably well as a golfer.

He was not, never has been, one of the so-called spoilt brats of the sports world known for their fiery temper and outbursts both on and off the field of play. He made no political statements (he is a registered Independent- neither a supporter of the Republicans nor Democrats) and kept severely to his only area of competence- golfing.

This image of him as a gentleman, a responsible family man, father to his children and husband of Elin was no doubt enhanced by the fact that his domestic life was largely scandal-free. Until the present fiasco which some are trying to make the last time he would ever stray from their self-defined path of rectitude.

There is everything wrong with the reaction Woods’ multiple relations and infidelities have generated from the American press, public and particularly the commercial interests and companies that are reviewing or have reviewed their endorsement deals with him because of his off-course, perhaps more appropriately, bedroom activities.

In the first instance, Woods’ fame rests on his golfing skills and he has so far not offended against the game in any way. He is not famous for being the husband of Elin, the father of  Sam Alexis and Charlie Axel nor did he become the greatest money-making golfer who has increased public interest in golfing and exponentially drawn the largest TV audience for golf because of his role as a family man.

He is solely a golfer. Concerning his sexual indiscretions, the only person he is accountable to is his wife and the woman has so far conducted herself with dignity despite what others would like to see.

As a prominent person, it is reasonable to expect certain standards of him. But failure to live up to these standards is no reason to want to destroy him and take away his means of livelihood as we are witnessing. He has not been accused of raping the bimbos that are suddenly being made to look like good girls. He has been financially responsible for his family.

Woods, no matter what moral standard anybody may erect for him, is solely a sporting symbol not a moral authority. He is neither Plato nor Aristotle and is not known to have expounded any body of moral philosophy. He is not the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Ayatollah, nor any one of the many religious leaders around.

He is just a virile thirty-four year old man who dropped out of university (Stanford) after just two years to pursue golf which has now been taken from him. What is the rationale to set for him moral standards he didn’t set for himself?

What’s happening presently looks to me like the periodic bestiality that the American business establishment or some racist section of it visits on Black celebrities they want to destroy in order to promote new stars they could milk for whatever period of time it pleases them.

Where such celebrities didn’t fall on their own sword, crippled by some personal flaw, the system simply took them out- summarily or gradually.

Name them, from Mohammed Ali who lost form after a three-year ban to Michael Tyson who came back from jail  more like Dracula than a pugilist, to entertainers too numerous to mention. The weapon of offence is usually sex-related.

Michael Jackson might have died in June 2009 but his death began the moment he had the child sex molestation charge slammed on him in 1993. Not even political leaders are spared: from the uncompromising Malcolm X to the peace-loving Martin Luther King Jnr.

whose squeaky clean reputation was all but smeared with sex-related accusations and hounding by Edgar J Hoover’s FBI. The same FBI is already snooping around Woods for suspected drug use or abuse. Their trick is to link him with Anthony Galea, his Canadian doctor already under investigation in Canada.

Don’t be surprised if Tiger Woods suddenly finds himself on the way to jail on allegation of substance abuse. Surely, there’s more to this than we’re being told. Have a great 2010!

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