Family First Is Best for Woods
IN HAPPIER TIMES: Tiger Woods’ decision to put his career on hold to fix his marriage to Elin Nordegren has been criticized but putting his marriage first is the right thing to do.
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor
The first thing I thought when I heard that Tiger Woods was putting his career on hold to repair his marriage – good for him.
His trail of mistresses may stretch longer than one of his drives and instead of sticking around to see the fallout, he’s already begun answering to the only person who deserves one – his wife Elin.
Too often we see athletes and politicians force their wives to stand by them as they apologize for infidelity. But rarely do we see the athlete publicly drop their career to repair the damage they’ve done.
It’d be easy for Woods to stay on the golf course. Face the music and get through the first wave of heckling until he wins a major championship. For the most focused individual in sports right now, that’d be the greatest challenge of his career.
But that’s the point. It’s always about his career. Always about his brand. Always about his carefully cultivated image. For once, it’s not about that.
He could stick around and try to play through it but he did the unthinkable – he put something else in front of his goal of being the greatest golfer ever.
Infidelity is a transgression against your spouse, not your sponsors. By putting his career on hiatus and traveling to his wife’s native country, he’s showing her how sorry he is – not just by depositing $5 million into her account.
For his critics, that’s called being a real man and a husband. Going to marriage counseling isn’t enough – he need to do something besides buy her back, something tangible to show his sincerity.
The greatest thing any man can do is put his family before himself and considering how bad he screwed up, this is drastic enough to show he’s serious about repairing his damage.
Some might say he’s being a punk, running from his problems. It’s possible but could it be that he’s also handling it by removing all distractions in America to make it all about him and her?
He could fight through it, come back and play the 2010 golf season with a focused fury that would intimidate anyone who had the misfortune of being paired with him in the final two rounds.
But while winning makes things good in the eyes of the fans, the media, the sponsors and his peers – he still has a wrecked marriage to come back to. And there’s the rub with Woods.
We’ve dealt with the public image of Tiger for years now. He’s become the successor to Michael Jordan as the non-threatening corporate pitchman off the field and driven winner on it.
Now it’s time to see him as who he is: a man who has a family to heal, an image to repair and a reputation forever tarnished. And instead of catering to what the public wants or his sponsors, for the first time he’s answering to those who matter.
That’s how you handle infidelity – if you’re going to stay together, put in the work to make it better.
Bill Clinton took a brief vacation to Martha’s Vineyard after his infidelity became public in 1998. Kobe Bryant had the entire summer of 2003 to work on his marriage as he faced rape charges in Colorado. In this macho culture of sports where being tough is celebrated and any hint of weaknesses is exploited, we forget sometimes when showing “weakness” is actually beneficial to a relationship.
Since Woods burst on the scene as a golf prodigy at 3 years old, he’s been groomed to be the greatest ever in his sport. His late father, Earl, spoke highly of him changing the world and being among the most significant athletes in history.
But remove the expectations now. The greatest athlete in the world is now the biggest tabloid news story of the year and his reputation has been tarnished forever. He’s no longer an immortal but just a man who fell prey to temptation.
Now it’s not about being the greatest ever. It’s about watching him rise again after one of the greatest falls we’ve ever seen. And it’s better that he starts it privately before continuing it publicly.