Michael Taylor believes that in order for Tiger Woods to achieve redemption, he must first see himself as an ordinary man.
Now that Tiger Woods has regained his #1 in the world golf ranking, the question becomes “Can he ever redeem himself in the public’s eye?” To answer that question I will begin by making a simple distinction. First of all, there is Tiger Woods the golfer and then there is Tiger Woods the man. It’s important that I make this distinction before I actually answer the question.
Let’s begin with Tiger Woods the golfer.
In order for Tiger to redeem himself as a golfer it’s straightforward. All he has to do is go out and win more golf tournaments and surpass Jack Nicklaus’ major championships record and I can assure you he will be redeemed in the eyes of the sports world. Our society has a very short memory when it comes to athletes and their indiscretions as long as the athlete can inspire and excite us with their unique gifts and talents. If and when Tiger is able to come back and dominate the sport, he will continue to be admired and worshiped as an icon in the sports world. Therefore he would be “redeemed” in the eyes of the public.
Not that society will condone his actions, it’s just that our culture thrives on celebrity’s lives and few people in our culture are as “celebrated” and recognizable as Tiger is. Therefore the media needs Tiger to feed the media machine. Rest assured that the media needs Tiger a lot more than he needs them. In addition to the media, I can assure you that corporations also need Tiger and are also ready to move past this setback so that they can continue to profit from his celebrity. No one wants Tiger to be redeemed more than corporate sponsors. He is a billion dollar corporation in himself and there is an infinite amount of people who’s livelihood depends on him. These people are doing everything in their power right now to insure that Tiger gets back on the golf course and does what he does best, WIN!
Now let’s talk about Tiger Woods, the man, which is much more complicated.
Unfortunately in our celebrity-dominated culture we make icons out of celebrities and then create the perception that they are somehow different from ordinary people. The truth is, all people are ordinary, it is the things that they do which make them extraordinary. The fact that Tiger is a billion dollar athlete that is an expert at hitting a small round ball into a very small hole (sounds ordinary and simple doesn’t it?) better than anyone else still does not change the fact that he is an ordinary person.
I believe this is Tiger’s greatest challenge. He must come to the understanding that he is an ordinary man with extraordinary talent. When he comes to this realization he will then be ready to truly redeem himself. Once he accepts this simple fact he then sets the stage for his transformation.
In order for him to be transformed he must be willing to become self-introspective and get to the root causes of his self-destructive behavior. The experts tell us that all addictive behaviors have at their core an unresolved emotional conflict so he must be willing to uncover his emotional conflict if he truly wants to be transformed.
This transformational process will be the most difficult endeavor he has ever embarked upon. It will be difficult because like most men, he will not be able to depend on physical prowess or intellectual acuity. He will have to look into the deepest recesses of his heart where the unresolved emotional conflict resides and that is the place where men generally refuse to look. It’s been said that the longest journey any man will take is from his head to his heart and I believe this adage holds true for most men.
If he chooses to engage in this process he will learn that extramarital affairs are never about the physical act of sex. They are attempts to fill an unfilled emotional need. Until that need is filled and the emotional conflict is resolved no amount of sex will ever satisfy him. This is the beginning of his redemption.
It’s difficult for most people to comprehend the reality of sexual addiction. In our sex-crazed culture it sounds like a cop out and justification for a man’s indiscretions to say that a man (or woman) is addicted to sex. The fact remains that sex addiction is real and is no different than drug addiction, food addiction or work addiction. It might seem that it isn’t a real addiction because we relate sex with physical pleasure but I can assure you that the emotional and spiritual toll it takes on a mans well being can be devastating.
So to truly redeem himself Tiger must engage in his emotional healing and transformation. He must learn to heal his heart and take responsibility for his actions. He must be willing to seek forgiveness from those he has hurt and most importantly he must learn to forgive himself. He must concede that he is an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent but that talent should not define him. He must come to the realization that true success does not come from his ability to simply play golf, it comes from his ability to be an authentic man, to be a great father to be a loving husband and to excel at a game that he loves to play. He is a man first and a golfer second. This simple distinction is the key to his redemption.
Last but not least, he must surround himself with men who will support him in being the best man he can possibly be. Men who see him as a man and not just a great athlete. Men who model integrity, fidelity and self-responsibility. Men who will hold him accountable for his actions and will not allow him to fall back into old patterns of negative behavior. Men who truly understand the process of transformation and can guide him along his journey. Men who will love him unconditionally without judgment for the man that he truly is. Building this support system is key and will make the process much easier and insure his success.
So in answer to the question I posed, yes, Tiger Woods can redeem himself. But he must redeem the man before he redeems the golfer and in the end he will become a much better man as a result.
photo Lynne Sladky, AP