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Friday, December 18, 2009
Lessons we can all learn from Tiger Woods

FOR A LONG TIME lots of people have wanted to learn from Tiger Woods.  Many were golfers who wanted to improve their game.  Sadly, most people can't improve their golf strokes by watching someone like Tiger drive, chip and putt, anymore than they could learn to dunk by watching Michael Jordan jump.  But while you may not learn how to continuously bounce a golf ball off a nine iron by watching a Nike golf ad, if you pay attention to the right things you might learn something about life by making note of Tiger's life.

Here are a few of the lessons we can learn from Tiger Woods:

All men are stupid, crass and driven by lower instincts.  (In case my feminist friends think, based on this statement, that I have gone over to their side, sorry.  I am using man in its antiquated, sexist form.  So, this covers you females too.)  Even people who seem to be perfect, maybe especially people who seem to be perfect, well, they're not.  Men, all of humanity, male and female alike, are fallen creatures, depraved and capable of remarkable cupidity and substantial stupidity.  I try to note when watching a wonderful and gifted life implode, that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Money doesn't satisfying the deepest longings of man.  (And, apparently, collecting major sports titles doesn't either.)  Due to his "transgressions," Tiger may never make his second billion.  But, you know what, if his first billion dollars didn't bring him personal satisfaction, I am betting the next ones wouldn't have either.  I suggest that you and I and Tiger look for real meaning elsewhere.

Power corrupts.  (And a consistent 300-plus-yard drive is, apparently, a good source of power as well as evidence of it.)  Given power over others, most humans cannot resist exploiting them for their own selfish purposes -- even when they think they are not.

What is done in secret will be exposed.  (If it does not happen in this life, I promise it will happen in the next.)  Deleting text messages, erasing emails, hiring lawyers to make payoffs are all well and good, but, in the long haul, the truth will out.

Love has multiple meanings.  (In this respect, Greek is a far superior language to English.)  Let's not confuse erotic love (eros) with brotherly love (phileo) or either of those with unconditional love (agape).  Unconditional love is the foundation of a lasting marriage.  Uncontrolled erotic love is a good basis for wrecking one.

One final lesson we can learn from Tiger Woods: man was not made to be worshipped.  (Like Michael Jackson, Tiger began being adored by the public when he was just a child.)  Tiger may not have asked for worship but he co urted popular adulation -- and he got it.  Tiger, perhaps the world’s best-known athlete, had a Q score, a ranksing of entertainers by how likable and recognizable they are, which was among the highest of all entertainment figures.  In other words, the world knew and loved Tiger Woods.

Such adulation is very corrosive (confer Michael Jackson) -- but it does not have to be.  For decades Billy Graham has been among the most admired people in America, being named in the top 10 in Gallup's annual "most admired men" list more than 50 times.  He was once even named the "Greatest Living American."

Despite this public exaltation, there is no evidence Graham ever fell to sexual temptation.  I don't think it was because he was personally stronger -- but perhaps he was humbler.  Graham recognized his own weakness and depended on God to help him in spite of himself.

It is also reported that he never met with a woman behind closed doors.  He was not only aware of his own frailty, he was wise.  In this he protected himself from temptation but also from false accusation -- something Tiger might wish for now as well.


Gary D. Gaddy used to admire Tiger Woods, now he just feels sorry for him.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 18, 2009.

Copyright  2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:59 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 3:03 PM EST
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