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Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

“Tiger, tiger, burning bright. In the forests of the night...” thus begins William Blake’s classic verse. It got me to thinking about our own Tiger and the public funeral pyre prepared for him. He was the brightest star in the galaxy. Young, handsome, talented—truly the Great Black Hope to so many. Tiger Woods personified what was best about the game of golf. He became legendary. We all know who he is, whether we follow golf or not.

Tiger’s talent and acumen served him well. He received praise and fame, along with huge amounts of money. He became a product, and a very successful and popular product at that. When he played, the people came to see him in droves. And Tiger seldom disappointed his fans on the golf course.

Did we love him? Did we envy him? Perhaps both. Tiger had what looked like a perfect life. He married a blond goddess and had two beautiful children. He was wealthy beyond measure and talented! So talented. Tiger had maintained a very low personal profile in the eyes of the media. He was not spotted out looking for attention and his private activities were kept private. Did that annoy us?

It seems that because of keeping such a private persona, we really knew nothing about this man or his life. Was he happy in his marriage? Did he feel pressured over competition? Was his mansion a happy place? Was his wife in love with him, or he with her?

It came to pass that on the night before Thanksgiving, Tiger’s perfect life and career began to unravel in front of our eyes. What seemed to be a minor fender bender turned into a raging forest fire. The media was whipped into a frenzy because Tiger did not address them immediately following the first smoldering twigs of rumor. And then the real rumors started. Tiger’s wife had attacked him with a golf club. Tiger had been drunk and drugged when the accident happened. Tiger had numerous adulterous affairs with women.

It no longer mattered what the truth was or was not. This story got wings! Tiger was chastised by his peers in print. Tiger was decried from the pulpits. Tiger was called a hypocrite, a liar, a cheat, and worse—a huge disappointment. Did we feel that he had betrayed us personally? Did we feel that he owed us fidelity? What atonement for his sins do we feel would be satisfactory?

He has admitted that he sinned. He has said that he’s sorry. He has stopped playing the game of golf and removed himself from the stage. What more must he do? I’ve read many media types who say, “If he would just come clean.” I’m not sure what that means. Does he owe the public to explain the why and how and who of his transgressions? If he gave us the details, would we be more likely to forgive him? Is our forgiveness required? Or is this a private matter to be worked out by a troubled man and injured his family?

I, for one, believe it is.