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Monaco: Why I can’t root for Tiger (April 15)

Mike Monaco | Monday, April 15, 2013

We all make mistakes. Mistakes are truly fixtures of life, as common as breathing. So I get it – nobody is perfect, and so I believe in second chances.

But there’s something holding me back with Tiger Woods. There’s something holding me back when people root for him on Sunday at the Masters. Sure, there’s the argument that he’s good for golf and that people can like Tiger the Golfer and not Tiger the Person, but I still can’t do it.

I just can’t root for Tiger after he admitted to infidelity and destroyed his family. Maybe I have a double standard when it comes to the lives of athletes off the field, court or course. I’ll willingly give Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton second chances. And third and fourth and fifth chances. He has an addiction, and he’s actively working to fight it.

You can argue that when someone engages in countless affairs like Tiger did, that person has an addiction as well. He probably does/did, and it might even be out of his control. But Tiger directly messed with the sanctity of the family, while Hamilton directly messed with his own body. When you’re addicted to a drug, the main person you’re harming is yourself.

When you’re married and addicted to other women, the main person you’re directly harming is your wife.

I understand Tiger is good for the game of golf – there’s really no getting around that. Ratings and attendance are higher when Tiger is in action and, more importantly, in contention.

So I understand the fans and media members who hoped Tiger would not be disqualified after the second round of the Masters this weekend for taking an illegal drop.

But I don’t really care about how good he is for the game. Ratings don’t matter to me like they do to the suits at CBS and ESPN.

I was perfectly content as I followed other Masters storylines throughout the weekend. Give me 14-year old Tianlang Guan over Tiger. It doesn’t matter to me that Guan failed to shoot a round under par, or that he finished at +12. He was a fun story to follow regardless of how he performed. Give me the three Aussies – Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman – at the top of the leaderboard who may not have Tiger’s big pedigree or TV ratings. Golf has always been billed as a gentleman’s game, so shouldn’t golf fans expect integrity out of its participants?

Then there’s the argument that cheering for Tiger the Golfer is justified because the transgressions of Tiger the Person are completely separate. To me, however, the two are not independent. Tiger the Golfer is just like Tiger the Person.

He comes off as pompous on the course and in interviews. He’s known for throwing his clubs and yelling at spectators on the links. Off the course, he gives answers as if he’s agitated because the reporters are wasting his time. It all adds up to a Golfer, a Person and a Tiger that is looking out for just himself.

That self-centered vibe from Tiger the Golfer is the same one I feel must have allowed a person to take actions to ruin his family. Some may argue that Tiger the Person merely made a mistake. And maybe he did, but it’s infinitely tougher to forgive Tiger when you see him chucking clubs and giving snide answers to media members.

Because of those antics, I’m not as willing to see Tiger as someone victimized by an addiction or a disease. He strikes me as a cold, self-centered person focused on Tiger and no one else. It’s the same idea with unloved superstars like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds. Thus, when steroid allegations arose against those two sluggers, I struggle to find them innocent because of their unrepentant demeanors.

Contrast A-Rod, Bonds and Tiger with LeBron James, and the picture becomes clearer. LeBron was once an undisputed villain, but after the Heat-hating hysteria died down, (more) fans could once again cheer for the fun-loving LeBron because they saw him as an easy-going guy. And easy-going guys make mistakes. I can forgive LeBron for ‘The Decision’ and for his proclamation of “Not one, not two, not three…” championships for the Heat. Humans make mistakes.

Tiger, meanwhile, doesn’t strike me as human. He’s machine-like in everything he does.

So I can’t forgive him because robots don’t make moral mistakes.

Humans do.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.