Is Tiger Woods getting a pass from #MeToo? Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Bob Brehl: The redemption of Tiger amidst #MeToo

By 
  • April 18, 2019

The excitement surrounding Tiger Woods’ historic win at the Masters golf tournament is undeniable, but it also raises some questions.

Think about how much has changed since Woods’ last major golf championship win 11 years ago. So, bearing in mind those societal changes, what should we make of the rebirth and redemption of Tiger amidst things like the #MeToo movement?

For all of us aging folks, it was fabulous to see the old guy — the Tiger in Winter — roar again and on April 14 beat back the talented youngsters, most of whom were drawn to the game by his sensational play two decades earlier. Woods, 43, is now the secondoldest winner of the Masters, after Jack Nicklaus who was 46 when he won in 1986. It was also Woods 15th major — and first since the 2008 U.S. Open — against Nicklaus’ record of 18, the most vaunted record in the sport.

A decade ago, when Woods stood with 14 majors, it was assumed he would shatter the Nicklaus record. Then came that U.S. Thanksgiving night in 2009. That was when Tiger’s life unravelled after a marital dispute led to a car accident that led to public revelations of lurid sexual exploits by Woods with many women, one of whom was a waitress described by her sister as incredibly naïve and vulnerable.

As his personal life exploded, his playing career also took a nosedive. Rumours of the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs sprung. Then he had a series of back and leg injuries that led to an addiction to painkillers. There were questions whether he would ever play professionally again around the time he had back-fusion surgery in 2017.

But he came back and last year challenged for a couple of majors and even won the marquee end-ofseason Tour Championship. Still, it looked like Nicklaus’ 18 majors would not be topped.

Then, on Palm Sunday — at the dawn of the Easter season — all that changed with his win and redemption. The excitement at Augusta National golf course, on social media and in homes around the world watching on television, was palatable. Tweets of congratulations and adulation were instant and overflowing.

Ensuing talk from golf experts turned to questions like: Could he tie or break Nicklaus’ record and win three or more majors in his 40s? How great will the impact of his win be upon the game of golf?

But I had another question, a non-golf question: Will this win have any impact on things like the #MeToo movement? Or does society, especially women driving #MeToo, simply embrace Woods, forgive him for past transgressions and turn the page?

Tweets including words like “incredible,” “joyous” and “wonderful” were plentiful from both women and men after Woods’ victory. Tweets about past behaviour with women were not so plentiful.

By all accounts, Woods’ sexual escapades and affairs were consensual. None of the women have publicly accused Woods of unwanted advances or putting something in their drinks like Bill Cosby did to women. But there are many allegations of Woods paying hush money to keep women quiet, including $10 million to a party hostess who was doing some work for Woods.

Still, what Woods did is worse than what former vice-president Joe Biden and some others have done. How many bank managers or shop floor managers making $75,000 a year have lost their jobs over indiscretions at Christmas parties — indiscretions that may or may not have been as bad as Tiger’s behaviour — due to #MeToo allegations?

Albeit, men like media mogul Harvey Weinstein have done far worse and they deserve what’s coming to them.

Does Woods deserve a pass simply because he’s now returned to Masters glory? It would seem many women (and men who support #MeToo) are giving him the pass, much like they’ve done with former president Bill Clinton and the current president.

Following the Masters, when I searched Google with keywords Tiger Woods and MeToo pioneers Alyssa Milano or Tarana Burke and #MeToo, nothing came up in support of or against Woods. Interestingly, Milano recently spoke out in support of potential presidential hopeful Biden, calling him “a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women.” Biden faces allegations by two women that he touched them inappropriately by kissing them on the head.

It’s nothing new that sports heroes are philanderers. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Arnold Palmer were all legendary wife cheaters. So was Tiger and he paid a price.

Maybe it’s understandable if #MeToo gives him a break and concentrates on villains like Weinstein, Cosby and more despicable men and bosses. Perhaps the movement is developing some perspective for lesser indiscretions that can cost a man his career.

(Brehl is a writer and author of many books.)


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Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

After reading Brehl’s column, I wonder ‘what would Jesus do’, Jesus forgave all sinners, including us. Your column did not reflect those teachings. That column is your opinion but sadly not one to be lived by a follower of Jesus

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Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.