07 March 2010

Tiger Woods Sheds Light on a Bigger Problem

Tiger Woods’ public apology a couple of weeks ago got me thinking. Not whether or not he was sincere in his apology, but why so many people cared whether he was sincere. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Tiger Woods scandal epitomizes why I hate sports.

I do find sports boring and dull, a waste of time when there are so much more interesting things to be doing. But it’s sports’ fans bizarre obsession with their favorite games, teams and players that is really sickening.

Do golf fans love Woods because he’s a fantastic, gifted golfer, or do they love him because he’s faithful to his wife? I would think they adore and admire him for the way he plays the sport, so, going on this line of thinking, why does his personal life matter? Why does anyone care whether he cheats on his wife? That doesn’t affect the way he plays golf, nor does it make him any worse on the golf course.

The Tiger Woods ordeal has brought into focus the fact that Americans spend far too much time idolizing athletes and celebrities. Not only do we want athletes and movie stars who are great at their trade, but we also want them to be perfect in every way so that we can hoist them upon pedestals, worship them and pay them stupid amounts of money. Then, once we discover that they are merely humans making human mistakes and living human lives, we feel they’ve let us down. And if those nasty rumors turn out to be true, then we will snatch away our love for them as quickly as we gave it to them because they are no longer worthy of our worship.

But were they ever?

Why can’t Americans be happy simply admiring someone for their gifts and talents? No, we must become involved with every aspect of the person’s life. We pay paparazzi to invade celebrities’ homes and their lives and their families so we can feel like we know them, like they are close personal friends. We spend millions of dollars every year on celebrity rag magazines that strive to make us feel like we’re entitled to know everything about this celebrity or that athlete. But they aren’t our friends, and their lives aren’t our business.

After Christmas, Amazon.com gave me a free two-month subscription to Us Weekly, a notorious rag celebrity magazine. I do like to look at the pretty dresses that stars wear, and sure, the “Fashion Police” section is a guilty pleasure. But I could finish an issue of Us Weekly in 15 minutes flat because I didn’t read it. I’d flip through the photos and throw the magazine in the trash. By contrast, it takes me a full week (or more) to get through a copy of The Week and about three weeks for National Geographic. I noticed that Us Weekly has a section that shows stars acting “just like us.” That feature lasts two or three pages, so it must be popular. People want to see stars toting around their kids or shopping at Target, yet they get pissed off when stars really do act like real people and get fat, cheat or get a DUI.

A decade ago, Americans weren’t satisfied merely probing into the lives of celebrities and athletes. TV producers decided we should get an inside look at real people, too, and reality television dawned. But rather than giving insight into the lives of real people, reality TV sets up a stage — like 10 very different people from very different walks of life living together in one house — and transforms these regular Joes into mini-celebrities. Now, we’re obsessed with people who have earned our admiration on the big screen and on the field, as well those who are willing to do anything to experience their five minutes of fame on reality television.

It’s sick, really.

So when an athlete like Tiger Woods is found out to be a cheating scoundrel, we have idolized him so much, taught our children to be just like him, that we become angry with him for letting us down and teaching our children bad habits.

In reality, we should be teaching our children to value themselves, to strive to be their own best, to make their own dreams come true — not encouraging them to become just like Tiger Woods or the actor or singer of the moment.

Sure, Woods could be a young golfer’s inspiration, but he shouldn’t be a young golfer’s obsession. He should never have been idolized and worshipped. He should have always been viewed as a human with an extraordinary talent for golf. Whether he cheats on his wife should be looked at as just another human who fucked up. It never should have been made national news. I, who have absolutely no interest in sports or the lives of celebrities, should not know as much as I do about the Tiger Woods scandal merely through osmosis.

Something is wrong with people who obsess about celebrities and athletes rather than looking at their own lives and selves. To sit around and discuss celebrities as though you just talked to them on the phone, calling them by their first names and gossiping about the supposedly intimate details reported in trash magazines, is a sad existence. I wish people would put so much effort into improving themselves, teaching their children respect and responsibility, or improving the way they treat others.

Americans need to consider their obsession with athletes and celebrities and get a grip on reality. Hollywood isn’t reality. Rag celeb magazines aren’t news or journalism. Reality TV is garbage. And celebrities aren’t gods and goddesses worthy of worship. They are human. Some might deserve to be appreciated for their talents, but they also need to be allowed to make mistakes and live their lives in peace.

1 comment:

katbron said...

I enjoyed this post and I've been thinking the same thing about the entire Tiger Woods scandal. I think the media grabs something and won't let go - long after we "humans" have had enough of the story. I think my favorite part of your post was this: "we should be teaching our children to value themselves, to strive to be their own best, to make their own dreams come true" Absolutely!