Defend Truth


In defence of Tiger


Styli Charalambous is the CEO and co-founder of Daily Maverick, having joined the effort a few months before launch in 2009. Over the years, he has studied media models and news innovation efforts. He has also helped launch various projects and products within the Daily Maverick orbit.

People that live in glass houses tend to throw the biggest stones. Something the world’s favourite sportsman found out to his detriment following that now-infamous fire hydrant incident.

Since then, every TV evangelist and women’s lib movement around the planet has taken the Warholian opportunity to pass judgment on Tiger Woods. His sponsors too have acceded to the media and public “outrage” with the likes of Accenture, Gatorade, Gillette and AT&T all cutting ties with the world’s best golfer.

So now that the whole Tiger affair is almost a distant memory, perhaps it’s a good time to ask: was the backlash really justified? When rock stars’ sexual exploits hit the tabloids, the public and clergy hardly bat an eyelid. In fact, that level of promiscuity is expected and almost lauded by the paying public. It started with the likes of Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Jim Morrison, whose groupie hit rates climb well into the thousands. So why was Tiger so vilified?

The perfect man with the perfect life, from early days Tiger was earmarked by Papa Earl for greatness. Putting against Bob Hope on TV at the age of two, shooting 48 for nine holes by three and securing the biggest sponsorship deals in golfing history, Tiger seemed to have the perfect life. Even white people wanted to be like Tiger. Here was a sportsman who was a hero to the masses: attractive, talented, dedicated, a marketers’ dream. There was not a cereal brand out there that didn’t want Tiger Woods’ face on their cornflakes box and not a father out there that wasn’t egging his son on to become the next Tiger.

Some argue that the pressures of living a perfect life or the stress of maintaining this “walk on water” image may have led to Tiger’s demise, but there just might be a simpler explanation.

Reports have since surfaced of Papa Earl’s sexual indiscretions which have some people suggesting that Tiger’s infidelity was hereditary. Not so much hereditary, as genetic. You see, (and I am about to get shot now) monogamy is about as natural, and easy, for men as hitting a no. 2 iron.

Since primeval ages, our modus operandi has been to go forth and populate our communities. And we did, and we prospered and then we populated some more. With whomever and wherever we pleased. It’s what we were designed to do. That was until someone, somewhere decided that society and religion are great things and monogamy should be enforced, at any cost. Remember, religion and society also brought us decidedly unpalatable things like wars, religious or not, and the many flavours of financial and political crises.

So with the concept of “one man, one wife” entrenched, married men were constantly fighting this emotional tug-of-war between societal expectations and masculine nature. This brings us to Mrs Tiger Woods, Elin Nordgren. If golfing groupies throw themselves at the likes of John Daly and Colin Montgomery, who are, how shall we put it, not as easy on the eye, how could she expect the same wasn’t going to happen to hubby dearest? Here he was the richest sportsman on the planet, attractive and one of only three golfers to know what the inside of a gym looks like, living away from home 330 nights a year. Models, porn stars, (admittedly some trailer trash too), were throwing their white cotton panties at him. It was only a matter time before Tiger started playing someone else’s back nine.

I recently caught the end of a radio interview with our very own Steve Hofmeyr, who was asked about his notorious reputation for being a ladies’ man. He calmly answered that one day when he arrives in heaven or hell, he will receive the award for the man who said “No” the most amount of times. If I were a betting man, I would bet that most men would succumb to that kind of sexual pressure.

Only today, I read of the marital woes of superstar Christian cricketer Jonty Rhodes, once more caused by a sport star’s infidelity. One does not need to look very far to see just how difficult this monogamy thing is, let alone for men of power and stature that have a constant barrage of attractive women offering themselves to them.

The more one thinks about it, the more it seems the real victim here is Tiger. Denied a childhood and the privacy to fulfil a promiscuous young adulthood, he has been beaten with a four iron by his wife (no mention by women activists about that) and will now pay somewhere between $100 million and $500 million for it.

For their five-and-a-bit years of marriage, Elin is about to receive a sum greater than the combined career prize money of the world’s Top 10 golfers. As a golfing hack, that irks me, a lot.

Not one cent of Tiger’s fortune is attributable to his wife. In fact, his form dipped remarkably soon after nuptial vows were exchanged. It wasn’t her out there swinging clubs before dawn or missing out on wild college parties with mates to perfect his trade and passion. Nope, all she did was eat salads instead of McDonalds. Now she is a gazillionaire for her efforts.

Okay, let’s finish this outrageous story with some realistic advice: If you’re about to marry the next Super Bok, you might want to take a leaf out of the book of one Mrs Tom Jones. She soon realised that groupies and infidelity went hand in hand with the line of work her husband pursued. She not so much turned a blind eye as realised there was Tom Jones the entertainer, away from home so long and so often, and there was Tom Jones the husband and father. Fifty-one years later they are still married, and may have one of the very few honest celebrity marriages (now that Paul Newman has passed on).

In time, this outrage too will fade and Tiger will be back collecting trophies as quickly as sexual conquests. And the public will love him again, so too will sponsors. After all, doesn’t the world prefer a philandering Bill Clinton to a bumbling faithful George W Bush any day?


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