Tiger Woods: A good role model?

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By Geoff Hamill

Do as I say, not as I do.
I’ve heard people older than me use that phrase from time to time since I was a young boy. I don’t agree with it in general, but it could possibly be worth listening to after all.
This time last year, Tiger Woods had it all together. He was the top golfer in the world, and he enjoyed a flashy, jet-setting lifestyle that almost anyone would envy. He had a beautiful wife and two children. Oh, and he was also listed as the first professional athlete to earn more than $1 billion in his career, according to Forbes Magazine.
Yes, on Nov. 24, 2009, Woods was on top of the world. Little did he or anyone else know that just a couple of days later that the whole world would come tumbling down, and in essence, be on top of him.
It was Nov. 27. That was the day when Tiger Woods saw a lot of his private life become very public, whether he liked it or not. That morning, which was the day after Thanksgiving, Woods was in a minor car accident that brought to life many more issues in his life, including numerous alleged affairs, and eventually, the divorce of Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren.
In the past year, Woods has lost some of his high-profile endorsements, and his image has taken a beating as more and more women have gone to the media, providing information about alleged affairs and rendezvous with the golfer. Taking a look at the Tiger Woods we know more about today than we did a year ago, it would be easy to say he’s not a good role model, and it might be hard to argue that point. But I’m going to give it a try.
Based on the actions we’ve heard about in his personal life, Woods is not exactly what most of us would want our kids to turn out to be when they grow up. However, when you look at what Woods appears to have learned from it, maybe there’s a good lesson to be learned.
Now, I can’t stress enough that what we are seeing from Woods following this whole mess could be a well-scripted story his people have created to try to clean up his image and regain the public’s trust, only to see the endorsement dollars start to come back and improve his public image. Who knows. We can only listen to the story and then make up our own minds if Woods is sincere, or just trying to get back into the good graces of potential sponsors.
I try to look at things with a positive frame of mind, and in most cases, I try to give the benefit of the doubt when someone says they are sorry for a mistake. That’s just part of being a Christian, in my eyes. I know I’ve had to apologize and ask for God’s forgiveness many times, and if he looked at me with a closed mind, I’d certainly be in some trouble.
I’ve listened to Woods lately as he has appeared on ESPN Radio, and I’ve read several interviews with him by some of the top sports journalists in the business. In my opinion, Woods has learned from his mistakes. At least I like to think he has. When I hear him talk about his personal life and how much his children mean in his life, I think I’m listening to a man who has made some mistakes, and a man who gives the impression that he is sorry for what he has done. Either way, he’s just a man, whether he is the greatest golfer on the planet or not. At the end of the day, he’s just a man, and by no means is he perfect, nor should we expect him or anyone else to be.
Whether he is sincere or not, well, that’s not my call in the big picture. But if he is sincere, Woods can be a good role model. He can show our young people, and even those of us who are not so young any more, that mistakes are part of life. Some of us will make the same ones Woods has made, while others will make smaller, or even larger ones, but we will undoubtedly make mistakes. But life is not about the mistakes we make, and our character is not necessarily defined by them. What does say a lot about us is how we behave after the mistakes, and whether we learn and become a better person when the dust has cleared. I think that’s where Tiger Woods is right now in his life. I think he made some mistakes, and I hope he has learned from them and is a better person for it. If he is, then he can serve as a good role model for all of us.