Men, Women and the Tiger Woods Behavior Debate


That two weeks later, we're still talking about Tiger Woods at Turnberry isn't surprising. Just about everyone... from the oddsmaker to the the average fan... was predicting a win. Some even used the word landslide.

What few would have guessed in early July, was that so much of this extended, Open Championship postmortem would revolve around what some are calling "Tiger's on-course antics" or "Tiger Tantrums." Or simply Tiger's unacceptable behavior.

I was one of many who wrote about the debate last week, and the response I got... via email and comments... was surprisingly divergent. So much so, that I feel compelled to write a few final words on the topic...however self-indulgent that may be.

What I found most fascinating was the whole "role model" issue, and the fact that many felt Tiger Woods owed it to ...well...everyone, I be a role model.

My opinion as articulated in my post, was quite contrary to that... to the extent that some suggested I shouldn't "criticize parents for expecting stars/athletes/musicians/etc to be role models", particularly as I don't have children of my own.

That's fair enough I suppose, however, I'm not actually criticizing them, I'm just voicing my opinion (like the Rick Reilly piece that inspired it, mine was an opinion-post). And IMHO, we don't have the right to expect entertainers to be role models just because they're in the public eye. Because after all, everyone has different standards and values. Whose standards and values should these stars project? Yours or your neighbor's? What about the values of fans in Brazil or Dubai or Japan? No, I feel these stars should, and in most cases will, project their own personal values.

And again it comes back to parents. They're the ones who need to embody and encourage the values they want their children to embrace. And they need to actively invest in living and teaching these values... 24/7... if they wish to instill them. Because the fact is, maybe Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong or Oprah Winfrey or... whoever, doesn't share your values.

Living your values and being your children's role model, requires extreme dedication and constant engagement. It requires putting yourself on a back burner most of the time. That's one of the reasons I made a conscious choice not to have kids myself. I knew I'd have trouble with that...with the kind of dedication it would take. And I didn't feel I was up to the task of consistently being the kind of roll model I'd want my kids to have. So yes... If I did have kids of my own I would probably be wanting entertainers to be roll share a bit of the responsibility with me, maybe pick up a bit of slack. But I knew I couldn't/shouldn't expect that, and I made the decision I did. It wasn't an easy decision - I love kids - but I'm convinced it was the right one.

One thing I found surprising was that most of the women who weighed in on this issue - via email or comments in response to my blog... or writing on other blogs or websites - have not been highly critical of Tiger Woods. Many of them are proud Moms, yet don't seem to be looking to Mr. Woods to be a role model. Most of the complaints (and the most strident of them) were from Men and it's Men by and large, who seem to be demanding that Tiger clean up his act and be a role model. This made me wonder.

My husband, who's been known to oversimplify even the most complex issue, suggested, "All men are jealous of Tiger Woods, even if they really like him. These guys are just relishing the opportunity to call him out on something." In some cases perhaps, but what seems clear to me is that in general, men are more likely than women to feel that their children will be swayed by the behavior of an athlete or entertainer...and in many cases less confident in the influence they themselves have over their children.

Several years ago, Tiger's own Dad, the incomparable Earl Woods, had this to say in a Golf Digest interview: "Yes, Tiger is known to swear on the course. You can't have it both ways. You can't have the fire, intensity, competitiveness and aggressiveness if you don't blow off steam. Profanity is the language of youth. I don't say it's right, I just say that's the way it is."

I'm quite sure the Senior Mr. Woods was totally confident in the influence he had over his son. And well he should have been. IMHO.

Photo: © Doug Benc, Getty Images