BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
TYGER, Tyger, burning bright in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The first few lines of William Blake’s masterful poem that could have been written for Tiger Woods.
The smoke has cleared now and another great man has hit the dust. This time it is the inimitable Tiger Woods, Lord of all he surveyed in golf and on the advertising circuits.
Like many others before him, he forgot the world always looks for a way to bring success down, whether it be in America or the back streets of Ajegunle.
It is a fundamental truth that people might adore you for your talent but will always look for a chink in your amour.
Ask Mr. Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson what happened to them. In their cases, long jail terms, and O.J. might not be getting out in a hurry.
So, what happened to Tiger Woods? When he was only two, his father playfully placed a golf club in his hands and helped him do a swing. He has not looked back since.
He went on up until a few days ago to become the world’s highest-earning sports personality even though he was a black man playing a white man’s game. Yes, his earnings were even higher than David Beckham’s and all the other sports people that flaunt so much wealth.
What do I mean a ‘white man’s game’? Apparently, there are sports that some races are pre-disposed too, and no one should accuse me of bigotry.
It appears that Formula-one and the Grand Prix are for Caucasians as well as gymnastics and the like. If you point to Lewis Hamilton, I shall have to ask you to point to a second example, the same way Tiger Woods stood alone in his field.
Tiger was Mr. Perfect, with a flawless image and he used it to advance himself. He rarely spoke out of turn, managed his private life perfectly and had corporate endorsements the way adolescents have acne, flourishing richly everywhere.
Photographs of his new baby were splashed across newspapers around the world and then his entire world fell apart.
ONE day, we woke to the news that Tiger had been involved in a car accident at 2am. He drove out of his home, rammed into a water hydrant, up-ended his car, ended up with lacerations to his lips and other minor injuries and when the fire services and the police arrived, his wife was standing by the vehicle with a golf club.
The story was she had used the club to smash the rear windscreen of the car so she could free her husband from the wreckage.
But there is a thing about stories; once they start, you cannot stop them. The police arrived and gave a report that they had ruled out intoxication on Tiger’s part at the time of the accident.
And then Tiger misjudged his corporate endorsers, and admitted certain indiscretions of the marital kind.
All around the world, and over the years, men have been caught with their pants down if you’ll excuse the pun.
If you’re like Henry who was King of England, you would cut yourself away from a church trying to stop you annulling a marriage to your wife so you could take another woman as bride and set up your own church.
If you’re like “Wild” Bill Clinton, you would use your charisma as well as the fact that the nation understood you were a man with imperfections and sail through shark-infested political waters.
And you would make it to the other side of the shore. It would also be helpful as in his case, if you have a strong wife who could grit her teeth, brace herself and stand beside you, the philandering scoundrel so as not to jeopardise her own career.
Kobe Bryant the basketballer was accused of infidelity and made up with his wife by buying her a diamond ring that was the size of a small rock.
Hugh Grant, the affable English actor was caught with a prostitute called Devine Brown (How can I still remember her name?) but survived intact with his career still in tow, David Beckham whose endorsements are massive too, had an affair that came to the world’s attention while he was based in Spain, an affair that caught the attention of the world’s media but which he survived as well.
Woody Allen ran off with his wife’s adopted daughter; Jude Law had his moment of indiscretion... Even the immortal Martin Luther King Junior and the Reverend Jesse Jackson had their “days in the sun” and they survived the aftermath. The list is endless.
How do some people survive this kind of situation and some do not? Would it have to do with a perfect image being super-imposed on an imperfect man?
If you heard P-Diddy was caught in infidelity, you probably wouldn’t blink twice. But the Tiger? And a list of mistresses?
My friend, Wale Akinmusire, one of the city’s leading architects but who is a muse of sorts for me on whispering matters, had a telephone messaging-conversation with me on this situation.
He had sent a story that could only have been the creation of some smart aleck having fun at Tiger’s expense.
In it, the Reverend Al Sharpton blasts Tiger Woods for a lack of diversity in his choice of mistresses.
Apparently, Sharpton was miffed at the fact that in the long list of people who claimed to “have been with the Tiger”, not one was a black woman.
THE fictitious report quoted Sharpton as saying, “Why is it that a man who calls himself black can’t bring himself to cheat on his wife with a black woman?” According to him, the lack of African-American women amongst Woods’ harem would have a negative effect on the community, specifically young black girls”.
So that is what Tiger has become, a subject for comedians and wits. But Wale’s angst was with the corporate organizations that distanced themselves from Tiger.
He termed it corporate dishonesty, a condition he considered worse than serial adultery which the Tiger had been accused of.
According to him, 80 per cent of the men on the boards of these companies that pulled out of endorsing Tiger as a result of his actions would have cheated on their wives at some point or the other.
If you are curious as to which companies these are, please google Tiger Woods. I am not certain how accurate Wale’s statistics are, but Tiger’s actions are not the first of this kind we have heard and in most parts of the world, his actions do not constitute a criminal offence.
Yes, there is a lot of hypocrisy in this matter. The Whisperer does not stand to promote infidelity, but many people have fallen at this point and have been allowed to rise again, not kicked to death where they lay.
There are many men and women who have done these things and the difference between them and the Tiger is that he was better known.
There should be second chances, I reckon, and a chance to rectify mistakes. Kate Moss was allowed to return to being a face for major brands despite being photographed with cocaine up her nostrils.
I would also advice that those who live in glass houses, should not juggle stones either in their own living rooms or outside. If a certain skill has helped advance you, protect it with all you have. You never know who is watching and hoping to see you fall.