Today Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods held a press conference to make a 13 minute statement regarding his extramarital affairs. Public and media response to his words have been mixed. I find it interesting to see what standards people hold Tiger to. The relationship between celebrities and society is an awkward one.
In selecting role models and determining what a real man looks like most people are quick to turn to celebrities. Often the men chosen are athletes, musicians, or actors. Real men dominate sports, sell-out concerts, and cause explosions (all while attracting women, of course). So the words people associate with a real man are often words like: tough, strong, skilled, wealthy, and powerful.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with those traits, but they do not make a man. As I see it, being a real man requires sacrifice for the good of others. It means responsibility.
This is not a new idea. Look at classic heroes like soldiers and firefighters. They put their own lives at risk to help others. Sure they might be strong, but that strength is worthless without the resolve to set aside their own safety and comfort to help others. That is what role models and real men should look like.
Responsibility is not a popular thing right now. Young men are encouraged to be immature throughout high school and even college. The carefree life is celebrated. Have fun, make money, and get laid. It’s a selfish mindset.
The celebrities we often call role models and real men reflect this lifestyle. Athletes are dedicated and hardworking; they strive to be physically dominant. But they play games. They play games for a lucrative living. And they do this at the expense of their families, spending long stretches of time on the road. Musicians also spend extended time on the road. The rock stars we idolize indulge every appetite. Movie stars often portray heroes and real men on the screen, but the actual men are often far from their characters. There are not many strong families in Hollywood.
Life is an investment. Each one of us is given a different mix of time and resources. A real man sets aside selfishness and invests in his family and others. A real man possess enough self-control to deny himself mindless pursuit of desires.
It’s time to honor responsibility, to make heroes out of those who make sacrifices. Go ahead and admire the skills and feats of athletes and musicians, just don’t mistake them for heroes because they can run fast or play a guitar.
It is fitting to be disappointed in Tiger Woods. He failed his family. He acted selfishly and caused people around him pain. Hopefully his contrition is genuine and he becomes a better example of what a real man should look like.