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“I Am Not A Role Model”

I sat on the sidelines for months, avoiding the Tiger Woods scandal altogether. Three months after Woods’ SUV tattooed an innocent fire hydrant, I weigh in. (The quote in the title belongs to the great Round Mound of Rebound, not Tiger Woods.)

First all of, Tiger Woods’ indiscretions are none of my business. His occupation and income expose him and his private life to the media’s intrusion. While I understand this is part of fame, it doesn’t justify the lack of respect for another human’s privacy.

Originally, I applauded Tiger for not acknowledging the media as he dealt with his transgressions and took inventory of the fragmented pieces that were once his family. Bunkering down until his life was straight was the right move. Tiger owes the media for his prominence in athletics and for expanding his brand. In no way, shape, or form does he owe them access to his private life. For nearly three months (with the exception of a website post), Tiger remained dormant … until last Friday.

I wasn’t compelled to write after the Thanksgiving crash or Woods’ admission to extramarital affairs on his website. Tiger Woods isn’t my friend, neighbor, hero, or favorite sports figure. What he did was morally wrong, but again, none of my business. I took any and all means necessary to avoid the media’s coverage of the situation. It was Brett Favre’s retirement cycle all over again. For nearly a month, I hated my TV.

Nothing Tiger does influences my life in any way. I don’t want a Cadillac because Tiger drives one. I don’t wear Nike because Tiger is plastered with the swoosh on Sundays. I still don’t enjoy golf. I was at home last Friday and chose curling over Tiger’s apology. I really didn’t care. All I wanted was for Tiger to go away and come back when he was ready to golf.

Tiger Woods = golfer.

My desire to avoid this fiasco changed after I read the transcript from Tiger’s speech. I know, I said I didn’t care. I wasn’t lying either, but a specific quote from Tiger’s mea culpa posted on twitter dragged me in.

“Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology.”

This is exactly why I loathe 95% of professional athletes. It’s my opinion that any athlete that declares himself a role model, regardless of whether he actually is or not, isn’t a good role model. If you’re a positive role model, you don’t need to remind us. We’ll see it for ourselves. Role models don’t campaign to be role models. Role models don’t consider themselves roles models. Role models don’t apologize for failing to be role models.

What Tiger (or any self-proclaimed role model) should have said when he apologized for his embarrassing behavior was this:

I’m sorry for believing I was capable of being a role model. I’m sorry I played the “addicted to sex” card to excuse my behavior. The truth is there are 3.5 billion men on earth that suffer from the same addiction, and only David Duchovny and myself are dumb enough to use it as an excuse. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to admit to myself and all of you that I wasn’t a role model, and in doing so, allowed millions of people worldwide to believe I was something I clearly am not. I am a great golfer, the best on earth. I am also an irresponsible coward. I am sorry. Thank you for your time.

Would a professional athlete ever deliver that or a similar apology? No. Never. Charles Barkley would come close though, and THAT is why Charles’ infamous, “I am not a role model” declaration was the most humble, self-aware statement ever uttered by a professional athlete. Chuck knew he couldn’t be a role model. He didn’t pretend to be something or someone else. He came right out and let us know. This is me. Don’t do what I do. Find someone else. Sure, we would have liked Barkley to act differently, but at least he wasn’t lying to us. Charles was humble enough (maybe selfish) to understand he was no role model.

Humility is the key. Take politics for example. My wife believes that any man who actually wants to be President is twisted. Think about it, she’s right. Every four years we vote for an individual who stands up and essentially says, “I know exactly what’s wrong with this country, and I’m going to fix it. I know I can fix it. I’m smart enough to fix it, and the other guy is an idiot.” Rule number one in life: never believe in anyone who thinks they’re great.

The same rule applies to the role model situation. If I was in charge of an endorsement company or a national foundation and wanted to find a good role model for young people, there’s only one way I would conduct my search. First, I would approach athletes who “appeared” capable of being role models. Then, I would ask them if they thought they were worthy of being a role model for young people. Anyone who answered yes would immediately be removed from consideration. A humble understanding as to why you’re not a role model is the foundation for actually being one. Similar to the presidency, no one in their right mind would envy such a task.

Tiger Woods’ apology for failing as a role model is ironic because he, like so many athletes, never should have been one. Maybe Tiger didn’t ask to be one, maybe he did. It doesn’t matter now. If Tiger was a true role model, he would have told us long ago that he wasn’t worthy of such an honorable title. Charles Barkley did it. Mark McGwire didn’t. Who do we love more now? Charles Barkley.

Tiger Woods = golfer.

Nothing more.

2 Comments

  1. Bonnie

    David Duchovny would have kept all the private if the tabloids had not gotten hold of his problem and had said they would expose him. Do you honestly thing he would have brought this out in the open? Second, Duchovny’s problem was not the same a Tiger Woods. He did not cheat on his wife with other women the way Tiger did. Duchovny’s problem was a porn addiction.

  2. Ryan (Author)

    Thanks for your comments, Bonnie. I’m sure Tiger would have opted to keep his matter private as well. Both were forced to acknowledge their respective issues and both used the sex addict excuse, which I feel is a lousy excuse. You’re right that Duchovny did not cheat on his wife. This is why I made sure to use the word, “behavior” instead of “infidelity.” Perhaps I should have been more clear. Thanks again for your comments.

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