Resurrecting a Troubled Sports Icon From the Soul Up
Most people can relate to the old adage that "No one can hurt you like a loved one." This holds true for people in all walks of life, including top tier athletes like our beleaguered and reluctant brother, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.
We've all heard the stories and seen the news clips about his fall from grace. We all watched apprehensively when his personal life collapsed and his professional life tumbled in a free fall that pauses only briefly these days for a glimpse of his once dominating glory.
Tiger's father, Earl Woods, clearly succeeded in preparing his son to become the world's best golfer. Elder Woods also succeeded in predicting that only "a bad marriage" could interrupt the near constant flow of championships his son once appeared to claim at will. But his beloved dad seemed to have ultimately failed in framing young Tiger's thoughts and self-identity around the reality of who he is and who the world sees him to be.
In spite of comparatively dark skin and paternal lineage that designates him as a Black man now, going forward, and for centuries past, Tiger Woods has always identified himself as "biracial." That's consistent with his father's belief that his son would "change the world" through golf, while attempting to live above and beyond the color line.
But the world hasn't changed, and that miscue has been revealed in high-definition color through the world's response to Tiger's moral failings. After unusually broad criticism, condemnations, and endorsement cancellations, there is simply no better example to that effect than the repeated, profoundly derogatory, and overtly racist remarks from his once devoted "friend and brother", former caddie Steve Williams.
The details surrounding his lopsided performance at last week's President's Cup Tournament indicates that Tiger was deeply injured and inadequately prepared to respond with words or golf strokes to the wildly spoken attacks recently waged against him by his former assistant. Last Thursday, in the first contest between Woods and his former caddie's new employer since his most recent racist rant, Tiger "suffered the heaviest match play defeat of his career." Although Woods clinched the final round win for the U.S. team's fourth straight victory, it's clear that his confrontation with Williams rattled his nerves, negatively impacting his play.
In a photograph of their obligatory handshake after Tiger's noteworthy defeat, Woods appears somber and dejected as he partially extends his hand to meet Williams driving grasp with a limp handshake and a look that appears to say "Et tu, Steve? (Even you, Steve?)" In response to questions addressing his former caddie's remarks, Tiger meekly said: "It was the wrong thing to say; I don't know how it could happen; There's some great things that Steve and I did, and I know he looks at it differently." Then to punctuate his inappropriately passive remarks, Tiger curiously added: "Steve is certainly not a racist."
That's interesting and unfortunate for our reluctant brother. I bet he still thinks he's "biracial," too.
Throughout his professional career, Tiger Woods has been golf's greatest player and its greatest ambassador. His sudden rise became front page news not only because of his immense talent, but also because of the vocal racist backlash following his early victories. After his first Master's win, references to him as "that little boy" along with "fried chicken and collard greens" revealed the racially regressive reality of professional golf.
And now after a thirteen-year partnership that secured his status as a caddie, Steve Williams' racist rants further confirm that perception for having gone without sanction or penalty from either of golf's governing organizations. An informed analysis must conclude that Tiger's ongoing struggle is welcome news beyond normal competitive instincts for many in the pro golf world who seem to have been patiently waiting for "that little boy" to be unceremoniously dethroned.
The ongoing challenge for Tiger, then, is to resurrect his personal and professional life from its current ruins. Towards that end, I suggest he begin by embracing his racial reality as the world currently sees it, while recognizing that people closest to him are not necessarily his friends. Since "Tiger" is a family nickname, I further suggest he reserve its use for confirmed friends and family while reintroducing himself to the world and demanding to be called by his birth name, "Eldrick".
In fact, I suggest he add an extra measure of distance between himself and potential pretenders by going further in his relabeling to adopt an African name from newly embraced cultural origins. That would give him a perspective to accept and employ my ultimate advice as he struggles to resurrect his personal and professional life.
For as Ausar (Osiris) learned in the first resurrection narrative and the oldest love story known to humanity, there is no greater restorative force in the universe for a broken and beleaguered Black man than the love and devotion of a Black woman. When the Kemetu (Black, ancient Egyptian people) first wrote this story, they told of how Ausar (Osiris) had been betrayed and dismembered by his pretend "friend and brother" named Set. Upon learning of her husband's fate, the beautiful and loving Aset (Isis) searched far and wide until she gathered all the pieces of her tortured and defeated mate. And through the power of her love for him, she alone restored him to wholeness, making him the first resurrected savior in all human history.
To be particularly clear, my reluctant brother Eldrick, I suggest you depart from the pattern of cookie cutter Barbie doll figures that ultimately served you no better than kryptonite served your once comparable Superman persona, to meet, eventually embrace, and be fully resurrected by either of the many Asets (Isis') in your midst. If you need a little help with that, give your brother a call.
Because most certainly, the right Black woman will resurrect and sustain you as they have done for the Black family and other Black men throughout human history. At the very least, your Aset (Isis) will restore your spirit and help you recapture the heart, not of an Asian tiger, but of an African lion.
After all, my brother,... it's a jungle out there.
Eldridge (Tiger) Woods, Please Allow Me To Introduce Aset: Resurrecting A Fallen Sports Icon From The Soul Up. Copyright (c) 2011 Shujaa Komoyo (Harold L. Baker, Jr.) / All Rights Reserved. Contact the author at