Mommy, Let's Play Tiger Woods!

Tracy Odell

golf ball
Flickr photo by Amit Chattopadhyay
Masters Sunday
is like Superbowl Sunday at our house. My husband loves golf and it's not uncommon for the television to be tuned to a golf tournament unfolding on any given Sunday while we go about our weekend business.

Given this exposure, it's no surprise that my 3-year-old son has shown an interest in the sport of golf. Hey, no problem -- golf is a gentleman's sport -- right? It's the perfect kind of thing to spark a toddler's imagination and incorporate into his play. Playing golf was all well and good until that whole Tiger Woods had sex with a bunch of women who weren't his wife thing went down.

"Playing Tiger Woods" used to mean innocently swinging away with our plastic golf clubs pretending we were one putt away from winning the big tournament. My son is Tiger. I'm always Phil. We can never swap roles - this is the way the game works. It's actually pretty fun to play. But, how can I in good conscience let him continue saying things like, "Look mom, I'm Tiger Woods!"

Tiger was never my choice for adoration even before the adultery. He's shown himself time and time again to be a bad sport and poor loser. But, I understand his appeal to others, my son included. He's a winner on the golf course and an amazing athlete. He's charismatic when he chooses to be. He's the kind of guy, who had he chosen a different path, could have been a fantastic role model. But, he's miles away from that now.

So far, I've simply bitten my tongue when my son mentions Tiger. I haven't said a word about how he can never, EVER pretend to be Tiger Woods again. About how vile and despicable a character his sports idol turned out to be. Three is about 15 years too young to explain sexting. Even at my tender age of 33, I question whether I should be allowed to read these elicit messages.

There's been a debate in the media about whether Tiger deserves privacy to deal with his personal issues. Some say this is a private matter between Tiger and his family. I understand this to a degree, but they're forgetting that his actions didn't just hurt his wife and kids. Athletes like Tiger get paid the big bucks for being public figures. Tiger sold Nike golf balls and shaving cream and god knows what else because he was admired for being who he was, not just how he swung a club. Like it or not, he was a role model to kids like my son and as long as he continued to sign endorsement deals and appear on our televisions each week, he had an obligation to lead an honest and respectable life. 

Next week Tiger returns to golf at The Masters. I don't know what kind of reception he'll get from the fans. I know what kind of reception he'll get from me: the death stare.

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