Saturday, December 12, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
Some years ago, in response to Oprah Winfrey’s inquiry about why he engaged in “sexual indiscretions” with a White House intern, former President Bill Clinton responded, “Because I could.”
The first time the Logistician shared this story with a colleague, it was met with a roar of laughter.
At first glance, it sounds like such a child-like response. And yet, any time someone prominent in society gets caught doing something that most didn’t expect of them, one has to consider the Clinton response.
A good friend of the Institute, in a personal reflection about the recent Tiger maelstrom, wrote:
“The Tiger thing is mind-blowing. Not because he turned out to be a dog, but because people are all shocked and appalled. It's amazing how often when reading about national scandals that I think of the French police chief, Captain Renault, in the movie Casablanca, when Bogart’s club, Rick’s Café Americain, is raided. He was well aware of what was going on and was actually profiting from it, and yet he says, ‘I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!’”
Someone once said that powder cocaine is God’s way of letting you know that you’re making too much money. And the availability of freestyle sexual escapades around virtually every corner comes in a close second. Virtually any professional athlete (and lots of them at the big name colleges) will tell you that Tiger-type sexual encounters and parties have been going on for about 100 years, if not longer.
(Ben Franklin may not have been an athlete in the current sense of the word, at least not on the field or the court, but all that salon activity in France did wonders for his creativity. And we also forgot about some of the Roman emperors, and other royalty throughout history.)
And yet there is something else a bit troubling about the Tiger melt-down. Our friend went on to write:
“I wonder if his adolescence was stunted because his father made him play golf all the time . . . so he never had a chance to fool around? And so he's just a teenager emotionally and in terms of maturity? I feel sorry for him. He's been ‘The Man’ all these years but maybe he's just a teenage boy inside?”
Without trying to be insensitive, maybe it was the first period in his life that he really got to “play.”
Our friend went on to mention child stars Michael Jackson and Judy Garland, whose extended adolescences / early adult lives were in the public domain, and noted that their problems during late adulthood did not appear quite as shocking, prompting such wide-spread “Oh my Gods….”
Having just totally dissected the entire life of Michael Jackson earlier this year, the adoring public should not have been so surprised that the golfing world’s version of Camelot came crashing down so quickly after a single strike by one of Sadaam’s SCUD mistresses.
And of course, everyone simply forgot about the Todd Marinovich story.
Tiger arguably should be complimented for not having imploded at an earlier point in his career. But as is the case with many things in life, simply putting a cap on the geyser, Old Faithful, will not permanently prevent it from ultimately blowing….
Which brings us around to our point… about the importance of balance and moderation during youth.
Both too much and not enough of anything can prove to be problematic down the road.
What has been most interesting about the Media’s coverage of this continuing event has been the paucity of focus on Tiger’s parents. Perhaps that’s because Tiger is a 33 year old adult.
And yet Joe Jackson was regularly pummeled following Michael’s death.
What’s a parent to do? How do parents achieve the optimal balance, and know that it has been reached? After all, there is no book on the subject.
In an interview some years ago, Michael related stories of wanting to go across the street and play on the swings in the park, to which his Father responded, “No, you have to practice.”
In thinking further about Tiger, one has to wonder whether any kid ever walked up to the back door of the Woods home, and asked whether Tiger could come out to play.
He ultimately got to play, in more ways than one.
Folks seem to be primarily upset because he breached his marital vows, secondarily because his philandering posed a health risk to his “beautiful bride,” and thirdly because the kids will have to endure whispered jokes for years.
And yet, as Dylan once said, “It goes deeper than that.”
Tiger recently announced that he will take an indefinite leave from golf, to start the healing process and do some mending of relationships, which translates into going into seclusion.
Perhaps what Tiger really needs to do is something which his parents did not allow his to do with enough frequency during his youth…. Come out to play with kids of regular folks.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too tough on the Tiger. After all, he’s really not one of the kids with whom we played.
Perhaps some share of our examination should be directed toward the parents, and not necessarily in a critical way, but perhaps more in terms of what can we learn from their experience with their beloved son.
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