15th Apr 2019
It was a Sunday and the final day of The Masters. That familiar red was sprawled across the television screen. It was Tiger Woods. He was leading, two shots ahead of the field. And I was rooting for him.
The feminist voice in my head wanted to slap me but I couldn’t stop. I was enthralled. As were the majority of the Twitter universe where ‘Tiger Woods’ was a trending topic. Everyone and their grandmother wanted him to win. This was the atonement story the world had been waiting for. The Messiah for those whom society had once shunned.
It got me thinking: why was I, and so many others, willing to support a man who had committed a series of wrongdoings to a woman and his family? As I secretly cheered and hoped for his golfing renaissance, the guilt inside was bubbling. I shouldn’t be doing this. But alas, as he put his final shot on the 18th hole and returned to glory, I rejoiced.
This was the story of all stories. Not just a comeback, but the comeback that sends shivers up your spine and makes you believe in fairytales. Because Woods was done. Critics all over talked of his demise, his lack of form and the question asked was one of retirement and not one of revival.
The emotional and physical turmoil he has endured in the 11 years since his last Major win would take its toll on any man. Not Woods, however, because he knew what greatness felt like, what winning tasted like and what it feels like to lose it all.
In 2009, Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home. After the incident, reports of numerous infidelities began to swirl, were confirmed and a divorce followed. The perfect facade had fallen. Woods then booked himself into a rehab clinic for more than a month for sex addiction.
A debilitating back injury and unbearable pain threatened to end his golfing career. Four back surgeries followed including a spinal fusion. In 2017, a mugshot of Woods was shown across the world after the former number one had been arrested for driving under the influence. He was found passed out at the wheel of his car by police. At the time, toxicology reports found five different types of drugs in his system ranging from pain medication to sleeping tablets.
Flash forward to today and the fusion turned into a medical miracle and he has made a miraculous jump back to form. And the world is lapping it up.
What could be the reasoning for this support?
Redemption. We thrive on it. There is nothing better than the heart-warming story of the villain who became ‘good’. Woods was to golf what Usain Bolt is to athletics. Just like Bolt, the talent of Woods was otherworldly. In his prime, he hit a golf ball like no other. He was a good guy with a beautiful wife and family, who happened to possess an immense talent. For some time, he was golf. This made his fall from grace all the more distressing.
The man and his talent have become two separate entities. Two contrasting beings we struggle to differentiate between. Someone who is made-up, but in our minds has been distorted from fictional and aspirational to real. However, the reality is much different.
Through the media spotlight, accolades and admiration, many are placed on a pedestal. When they ultimately fall from this, and the God-like complex melts away, we are left with a human who is susceptible to mistakes, dubious decisions and sometimes bad, destructive actions. We may have grown up watching these people on TV and cinema screens or listened to their music.
A lesson in humanity
We watched and listened in awe, becoming fans, which is why the ensuing unravelling is difficult to process. This paves the way for the redemptive story and why many may defend, support and root for the individual. Maybe, just maybe, that second chance will be taken and much will be forgotten.
If it was a female celebrity in a situation similar to Woods’, would people be as willing to turn out in support? What would the woman be branded as? After the Taylor Swift and Kim/Kanye fiasco, many branded the singer as a snake. She was hounded and distrusted both on and offline. She has never truly regained the public adoration that she had pre-Snapchat video. Why should men be any different? Hundreds still follow Woods on a golf course to catch one tiny glimpse of a shot, but many will refuse to buy Taylor’s music.
But for now, Woods is a beacon of light for those who had given up. It’s a lesson in humanity. His story as a whole shows the no one is a God, no matter how talented or otherworldly the person may seem, and maybe that is the biggest lesson we should take from this.
We, humans, are made of faults and sometimes they can cause an earthquake. His story is a shining example in demonstrating that whenever life hits you with devastating blow after blow–get back up and keep trying. Your dreams are real, they are important. It’s never truly the end unless you let it.
And most importantly, don’t ever give up hope.
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