Tuesday, April 6, 2010
P is for Privacy
Did you know that Tiger Wood’s private yacht is called “Privacy”?
Gives you a pretty good idea of what he values, I think. And if Tiger values privacy so much, it seems safe to assume that these past five months have been nothing short of hell for him.
Three months ago I wrote that “sports culture has become a dichotomy of virtue and vice, a constant highlight reel juxtaposed with both the David who killed Goliath and the David who had an affair with Bath-sheba.” When I wrote that it didn’t occur to me that I was succinctly describing the story of Tiger Woods. But I was.
The other day I was discussing Tiger with my wife, and I was trying to think of somebody in history who has had to pay as severely as Tiger has for his sins. After I failed to think of anyone, my wife said, “What about David?”
Oddly enough, it fit. David came from relative obscurity to become royalty. Just like Tiger. He became too famous, too adored, and his sense of reality became skewed in whatever direction he wanted it to be. Just like Tiger. He ultimately decided that his “needs” were greater than others’ and took whatever he wanted, including Bath-sheba. Just like Tiger. But when his actions came to a front, he dropped mightily from his throne. Again, just like Tiger. (Granted, Tiger hasn’t played an implicit role in the murder of anyone, but then again, David only had one Bath-sheba)
Think about it: I had to go back 3000 years to find somebody who has suffered in a comparable way. Tiger Woods went from king of the sports world to the butt of every joke in a matter of days. A man who desires constant privacy had everything about his life (Everything!) put into a worldwide microscope in an especially derisive manner. (It’s too bad Tiger isn’t an eloquent writer, because I think his Psalms would be an all-time best seller. Right up there with—dare I say it?—The Bible.)
My point? The Masters are this week. David had the Valley of Elah, and Tiger had The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. Just as David decapitated Goliath at Elah, propelling himself to greatness, Tiger decapitated everyone at the Masters as a young man propelling himself to greatness. But here’s the thing, David never got a chance to return to Elah and prove himself once more. This week, Tiger gets to try to do something unprecedented.
I don’t want to say that Tiger can redeem himself this week. That’s simply not true. But in an entirely unique way, Tiger has the opportunity to live out a real life epic at the grandest stage of the sport that made him as big as Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Babe Ruth, and apparently David.
Tiger can’t receive full redemption on a golf course. I think we can all agree on that. But he can receive a type of redemption. And small victories lead to bigger ones. I’m not certain what a victory this week entails, but at least by showing up and giving it his all, he has achieved something. As somebody who cheered on Tiger before he won a single professional tournament, I have a vested interest in his career. And simply put, I hope he can be redeemed.
David’s story is one that haunts us all. The idea that one so high and favored of God could fall to the point where redemption cannot take its full effect on him is a scary thing. We all have those hopeless moments when we wonder if we’re good enough, and only thoughts of redemption pull us out of the periodic despair that inevitably comes with life. We probably don’t talk about it too much, but I believe our private thoughts reveal this vulnerability. And maybe that is why Tiger has held on so firmly to his privacy. Privately, he has been tormented to the degree that he lived in sin. And that degree is pretty high, in case you haven’t heard.
And as Tiger (like most “heroes”) has acted for us all, given us an avenue for our own daydreams, and shown us the tremendous potential of the human will, he has also shown how low we all can fall. Just like David. He has, without consent, represented all of us. And for this reason I hope he can be redeemed. I hope he can look in the face of the world that has made a mockery of his struggle and decapitate the idea that redemption doesn’t exist. His real redemption will ultimately come off the golf course, of course, but a part of that may just begin in the confines of Augusta this weekend.
It is still sports, I know. But what sports represent, not the actual sports themselves, has always been why we draw towards it, why we care. It’s mostly drama and entertainment, but there is a reality that sports provide that other theatre never can.
If Tiger comes out victorious this weekend (however you classify “victorious”), it would be something special. It would be two cups of good drama, and two cups of tantalizing entertainment. But it would also be one tablespoon of real hope for everyone. And maybe even a sprinkle of redemption.
Privately, I think you agree with me.
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Today’s Recommendation: While we’re discussing David, I have a musical suggestion. You’ve all heard the song “Hallelujah.” There are, after all, about 342 versions out there. If you’re going to listen to that song, listen to the best ever version performed by Jeff Buckley. Now, I know art is subjective, and it’s impossible to claim anything is the best. However, this is an exception to that rule. Sorry.