I've already gone on record as saying I'm not a fan of Tiger Woods (see Tiger is not nice), so a part of me, the evil part, is enjoying his public humiliation. I hate to say it, but it's true. It's a classic case of schadenfreude, the feeling of pleasure one can have at observing another's distress. It's not a noble feeling, but there it is....
His first reaction to his predicament was to issue a statement or two on his website complaining that the public should just leave him alone. Only when other women came out of the woodwork did he realize he was in deep trouble and offered up a vague admission that he had transgressed, and then went on to again complain that the press and everyone else should leave him alone. This was when I was feeling the warmest glow from my schadenfreude, a delicious, self-righteous feeling.
The second wave of public humiliation is to become the butt of punditry and TV comedians, which is the phase we are in now. I received this emailed picture late yesterday:
Goofily funny, and a reference to the fact that his Swedish wife Elin knows how to use a wedge.
But the truth is that about now the happiness that Tiger has finally received his comeuppance has faded, and the situation is more sad than anything else.
Tiger has been a golfing star since he was a kid, and as a result has been treated like a special human being from the start. This type of treatment has an inevitable result, which is seen in many other top athletes: they become spoiled rotten. Tiger has carved out a special zone for himself in the world, believing that he really is superhuman, and he's not. I think the result is pretty pathetic. And as I tried to express in my Swedish title for this blog, I think it's time for his wife to get the heck outta that relationship. I don't see him truly reforming: how can he, he's been hard-wired to believe in his own exceptionalism. Have the kids grow up in a normal environment.
Athletic exceptionalism doesn't happen in the squash world. We have our athletes who show tremendous talent at a young age too, but we don't sign them up to huge marketing contracts and employ special retainers to safeguard their every whim. And they don't grow up to be billionaires, as Tiger has become. Instead of all that money, however, they are grounded adults living in the here and now. No money but nicely grounded—that's good, right?