The Tiger’s Tale!
Eldrick “Tiger” Woods has become the top golf professional in the world and has described his private life as “boring”; the events of the past week have been anything but…
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
The effect that sports figures have on the psyche of society is amazing and it is only when, time and time again, a sports celebrity acts in a manner that makes the public look up and say why did he/she do thus and so, does reality kick in: celebrities are human beings just like their fans. Of course, what usually separate the celebrity from the fans is fame and fortune(s). Tiger Woods was the highest paid athlete in the world in 2008 and the first athlete to parlay his skill at the billion dollar mark; all that and he is also a Black man, despite what he thinks and/or says.
The fact that a Black athlete has a domestic squabble should not be a big deal. Why? It happens everyday. A book of the names of “bad boys,” and a few bad girls too, on the celebrity circuit–sports and other forms of entertainment–can be written without much research or effort. It has become routine. So again why has the Tiger Woods incident causing such a ruckus, especially in the media? From the moment Woods was introduced to the world as a cute and cuddly golf prodigy by his late African American father, Earl Woods, his path to greatness was a perfectly manufactured blueprint.
Two of the many angles in this fiasco include the legal angle and the social angle; and to get an understanding of the legal angle, the Sentinel reached out to Attorney Robert H. McNeill, Jr., one of the managing partners of Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt, and one of the top attorneys in the state. Relative to Woods’ responsibility, McNeill said, “He has a liability to pay for the damage he caused; the only thing that’s not private is to the extent that he damaged someone else’s property, and the fire hydrant that belong to the municipality. So he has an obligation to pay for those damages.”
One of the reasons that rumors have been flying over the airwaves, radios, television and the internet is because Woods has chosen not to talk publicly about the matter, even to the police; his silence is deafening. About that McNeill continued, “He has no (legal) obligation to give an explanation, but some are saying he owes an explanation to his neighbors to his fans and the greater public because this is something that is mysterious and they want to know why.”
Because of his accomplishments in golfing, Woods has inspired, and has encouraged by inference, a legion of Blacks to take up the sport of golf, to support products that he endorses and for kids to have hope that they one day can reach such a monumental pedestal. He possesses an elite status at country clubs where for years Blacks have been banned, but the larger question is how many times did he extend his powerful hand to bring someone of color into his environment? It is a question worth asking, but just like the automobile accident that has caused whirlwind stirring rumors of his private life; we may never get an answer.
As a sociologist, Professor Harry Edwards has studied the Black athlete for years, their various levels of acceptance and their efforts to blend in. He has lectured and written extensively on the trials and tribulations of the Black athlete, and was a mentor to some of the country’s, and indeed the world’s greatest athletes. He stated, “Sports recapitulates and reflects society.” He has traced the arc of race, sports, and society through the struggles of the civil rights movement, the deterioration of black communities, and crises of crime and violence, highlighting the need for renewed activism, from the bottom up. And though there is no criminal involvement here, the spotlight is shining on Woods more than when he won the Masters Tournament. Edwards continued, “We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open as the chances of becoming a Jerry Rice or a Magic Johnson are so slim as to be negligible.”
The facts surrounding Woods’ accident at his plush secluded exclusive Florida mansion this week is that he jumped into his Cadillac just before 2:25a.m., backed into a fire hydrant and then punched into a tree before being rescued by his wife and neighbors. What led to Woods desiring to leave his wife Elin Nordegren at that hour is the billion-dollar question. Did a tabloid magazine that revealed that he had a mistress led to an outburst that provoked him to leave? Woods has said in statements released this week that this is a private manner and that he is not perfect.
The alleged mistress of Woods, Rachel Uchitel denied having an affair with him, but another woman has since surfaced alleging that she did have an affair with the famous golfer. And if history could be a guide more such allegations and “allegators” will be popping up in the future. Woods has cancelled his California golf engagement this week.