The day after the President’s Cup, I called my father (a staunch Tiger Woods fan) to talk about how the game’s former greatest had clinched the deciding point for the United States. My father talked about how he enjoyed watching it and that he “loved to see Tiger smiling again.”
The comment did nothing for me at the time. Isn’t it always good to see someone smiling? Then, I read Farrell Evans column which also referenced how Woods’ smile seemed as genuine as ever after the Presidents Cup and I noticed maybe there was something special about the way Woods has been flashing those pearly whites.
As Evans notes, we’re in the midst of the two-year mark of Woods’ hiatus after his life crumbled in November and December of 2009. The sordid facts of what happened have been examined and discussed at great length. Whether we should or shouldn’t, we all know what happened.
At the time, Tiger took heat, criticism and public ridicule in large doses. You wondered if he’d ever be able to recover. And yet, two years later, we find people who genuinely love to see him smile; people who root for him as hard as ever to succeed.
It’s a fascinating turn of events. The man who made the largest public apology in history is being forgiven and cheered as he fights to return as an embattled star. You get the sense that cheers will echo across the globe if/when Woods secures his first win since his return.
What’s interesting about all of it isn’t that we root for Woods – most of us care and root for people to succeed in all walks of life. What’s interesting is that we root for him more than others. Lebron James has far fewer fans than Woods. People will never forgive Bonds and McGwire for their unnatural attack on baseball’s record books.
In many ways, you could look at the failings of those athletes as much less damning that Woods’ actions. Still, we pull for Woods. We seem eager to let him back into our lives.
I’ve heard it argued that we root for Woods because we so dearly revered his greatness. I disagree. I think we root for Woods because he’s one of the few guys who had to face the music. Think about it – James took the easy road when he left Cleveland. Whether he wins rings or doesn’t win rings, it will never be the same as it would have been if he’d done it in Cleveland. Bonds and McGwire have stood in court – but they never had to take to the field and try to be great again.
Woods is two years into a personal and professional rebuilding process unlike any we’ve ever seen. Most of us have very little in common with Tiger – we lack his talent, bank account and fame. But, we all have our failings, be them big and small.
Every one of us lives with mistakes, regrets and doubts. Sometimes we live that way because of our own actions. Sometimes because of what others have done. Either way, we’re all human. And I guess its good that we still root for each other to smile.