Tiger Woods: Hero or Villain?

John Dickerson and Charlie Kelsey

Eldrick Tont Woods, more commonly known as ‘Tiger’, was, until Nov. 25 of last year, on top of the world. With 14 Professional Major Golf Championships under his belt, a feat that stands second only to Jack Nicklaus, and numerous other tournament wins to couple a myriad of golfing records, he is widely considered among the most successful golfers of all time.

But last year, tabloid news of alleged Tiger’s infidelities, involving long term affairs with multiple women surfaced. Not long after, and to the shock of the sports world, Tiger confirmed these allegations. His fall from national hero to social pariah was extreme, even warranting his departure from the sport for a short period of time. The question now is: does Tiger deserve the title of villain that the media forced upon him, or is he simply a good man who slipped up? Let’s find out.

Charlie Kelsey: You have nothing Dickerson. How can you possibly believe in Tiger after all he’s done? You can’t possibly think that cheating on his wife and betraying his family is right.

John Dickerson: Charlie, sure cheating is bad, but look at how the media handled it. Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman in Boulder, Colorado, and his reputation has not been tarnished nearly as much. To top it off, what Tiger did isn’t even considered a criminal offense.

CK: You can’t compare the two. Were looking at a guy who is a family man and a former Stanford student. He is the perfect example of what athletes everywhere should aim for. When you have a reputation that high, you have a responsibility to maintain it.

JD: Tiger didn’t ask for this reputation or responsibility. Even though it was wrong, people need to lay off him. Throughout his career, he has done a lot of good, for a lot of people. He has started charities, and donated tons of money, and been a loving father for his children. Should his infidelity outweigh everything good he has ever done?

CK: Yeah sure. It says on About.com that the guy made 117 million dollars in 2008 alone. 117 million. If you are raking it that kind of money, you basically have to donate to charity. Anything less would just be selfish. And how can you call him a loving father, when he put his kids through a widely publicized and messy divorce?

JD: So what about the money? Making that much money did not force him to give so much away. Anyways people should realize many former role models have done worse.

CK: Done worse sure. But those people have gone down in history for what they have done. I don’t see anybody jumping to the defense of OJ or saying “big deal he was charged for murder, he still set the NFL rushing yards record in 1973 (this according to ESPN classic).” At least people will always remember Tiger for his golfing achievements.

JD: I’m not condoning either Tiger’s nor OJ’s actions. The bad part is how people look at Tiger as if he committed tons and tons of horrible crimes. Big picture, it wasn’t that bad.

CK: You make a good point Dickerson. But it may have been one crime, but it was a big crime. We also have to consider that he has way more responsibility than these guys. OJ and Kobe both represent a sport alongside hundreds of other celebrity athletes. Golf does not have that recognition in the younger generation. Tiger made people recognize golf- but in the wrong ways.

JD: Golf before Tiger came did not have as diverse of following as it does now. Tiger brought the sport to new viewers, and to people who otherwise would not have cared that much about golf. His playing ability and how he brought fitness into a sport not known for its ‘athletes’, captured the younger generations. He revolutionized the sport, and his extramarital affairs should not take away from that fact.

Conclusion: Whatever Tiger did off the field will never completely tarnish the legacy he has left behind, one that transformed a sport and showed the world what true, incomparable athleticism is. If people ever doubted the ability to achieve in golf, nobody does anymore. But what Tiger did was inexcusable, and he let down his fans, his sport and, most of all, his family.