Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger commits adultery, moves to Sweden.

I watch golf on TV sometimes. It's certainly not any more boring than baseball. I watch it because I appreciate the madness-inducing difficulty of hitting a little ball with a lopsided club into a small hole a few hundred yards away, and I appreciate that difficulty because I am awful at golf. Golf is completely immune to any natural sports aptitude I have. I've tried playing for years. I've never been good at it. It's a whole other game from anything else. Personally I blame genes or sorcery.

I make fun of my brother sometimes cause he watches golf usually only if Tiger is playing. Recently he watched like ten hours of the Tour Championship just to watch Tiger lose at the very end to Phickelson. He was all upset about it, as though his ten hours of watching golf were suddenly a waste because Tiger lost. While one could (and did) argue that watching ten hours of golf was a waste regardless, I think it's odd that people follow an entire sport for one guy. It seems to me that in a way it devalues the sport itself. I also get fussy when people follow an entire team for one guy (coughLakers fans), so while I've always had a bit of a man crush on Peyton Manning as well as some respect for the organization (and its previous coach), I didn't feel I could legitimately favor the Colts until Austin Collie (former BYU receiver) joined Indianapolis this year as a rookie. I get a little annoyed when hundreds of Mexicans invade Rio Tinto stadium every time Chicago plays RSL just so they can scream out their love for no-neck Cuauhtémoc. They wouldn't be there if he weren't there, and the whole notion of it cheapens his team, because the moment he retires (which he will soon, because he's older than France), Chicago loses a bunch of fans. I think there should be loyalty toward the team, not just an individual. (Then again, if you can draw people in with an individual--David Beckham, for example--with enough continued exposure some of them might just become actual fans).

And by that logic, I've somewhat vindicated my brother and a billion Tiger fans who follow golf only when he's on TV, since golf is an individual game.

Anyhow, it took the revelation that Tiger had a harem to turn my mostly sports-averse mother into a Tiger follower. The other day she said to me, "Do you think he has a sex addiction?" (Sex addiction is the new thing male celebrities say they have to excuse an appalling lack of self-control). No, mom, it's not a sex addiction. It's just about access. It is my opinion that men are wired to want sex from any available source. That doesn't mean they have to linger on every little fantasy, let alone act on one. Many don't. Many do. But the truth is that when a man sees or interacts with an attractive woman, some part of him desires her. At that point the overarching question is, morality aside, one of self-control. If he's married, the question often takes the form of loyalty and respect toward his wife and his marriage as well as access. If he's not married, the question is largely one of just access. For the happily, loyally married man, the thought may not even register consciously. He has no reason to consider such infidelity. For a different type of married man, one like Tiger, there is apparently nothing to hold him back morally, and he seems to have little, if any, respect or loyalty for his marriage or his wife--so at that point it's just a question of access, and Tiger has no restrictions there. He's rich, he's famous, and he has a gaggle of people waiting to do anything for him. Tiger's not addicted, he's just utterly uninhibited.

It's not all that simple, obviously, but I think it's a big part of why he did what he did.

It's a shame, too. You'd think a beautiful wife, two kids and more money than he could possibly spend would be enough, but it often seems the opposite is true. The more someone's potential to buy their way into gratification increases, the more their desire--and sense of entitlement--to be gratified increases. As Joe Thiesmann said about his own infidelity, "God wants Joe Theismann to be happy."

And now golf ratings will be in the toilet. And Tiger will be the punchline to every sports-related sex joke for the next ten years. Wonder if it was worth it.

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