In relation to the news cycle, I am as old as a dinosaur and as slow as a snail, but now that I am back to writing, I cannot resist the urge to comment upon Tiger Woods' domestic problems. My initial reaction to all of this was pretty typical for me: "this is nobody's business" and "why must I once again be subjected to 'news' of a celebrity's personal foibles?"
The episode sits squarely at the top of the three-headed monster of race, sex, and class, however, and as such, it demands a bit of attention. Thankfully, coverage that I have seen has been devoid of overtly racial themes. That said, I have been made aware that person(s) known to me, big fans of Mr. Woods prior to the scandal, have made comments about black men, apparently fishing for permission to cast the conversation about Tiger into a racial one. Repugnant, to be sure. But how isolated was that attempt? Probably not as rare as one would hope.
Part of the reason I had to comment upon this story is that I cannot avoid it. Yesterday afternoon in the grocery store checkout line, I was visually assaulted by the tabloids - Us Magazine proclaimed: Mistress: Tiger Woods Told Me He "Wasn't Happy at Home With Wife"; while In Touch screamed: Tiger Tells His Mistress: I WILL LEAVE MY WIFE FOR YOU. The People magazine cover was the worst: Tiger's Wife: Inside Elin's Nightmare. All of these headlines demonstrate a prurient interest in Tiger's exploits, to be sure, but they also reveal gender politics of what I thought was a bygone era. Here in these salacious quotes is writ large: infidelity on the part of a man justifies domestic violence on the part of a woman. Is this the 21st century?
Let's go to Dubai. Why Dubai? It turns out that the richest athlete in history, like every other rich man that walked the earth before him, could not accumulate that kind of wealth without some kind of devilry. The one golf course in the world that bears Tiger Woods's name sits in that desert city; an unnatural oasis that uses four million gallons of water per day, to say nothing of the rest of the city, its appalling labor practices or its centrality to the international sex slave trade.
Nation writer Dave Zirin calls Tiger to task for this and for his corporate deals with Chevron as well. Zirin put it best when he said, "Woods has every right to keep his personal problems personal. But when he makes deals that benefit dictatorships and unaccountable corporations, all in the name of his billion-dollar brand, he deserves no privacy."
Last night my mind wandered to Tiger and his all of this recent media attention as I watched The People Speak. Muhammad Ali, one of the most famous athletes of his time, went to prison and was stripped of his title rather than fight in Vietnam, a war to which he objected. Contrast that to Woods, who would rather collect another few million than come out against barbaric labor practices, child sex slavery, or toxic polluters.
While he's taking time off, presumably to repair the damage he did to his family, Mr. Woods might consider rethinking all of his priorities and reflecting upon what truly makes a life well-lived.