Sportsmen as paragons of virtue

I heard the public apology by Tiger Woods last Friday on the BBC London evening news show, and was kind of satisfied when fate had me go through a long stretch of tunnel during that story on the way back from east London to Heathrow. I find it odd that Tiger Woods has to apologise to the rest of us for cheating on his wife. It is his wife that got hurt. We were just a bit disappointed (actually, I wasn’t; I didn’t care).

It’s not as if Tiger Woods is a priest or someone else who makes his living preaching about such matters. He plays golf for a living, and while golf may be known as a “gentleman’s sport” without tolerance for the boorish antics other sports are notorious for, golf is notorious as the sport of the rich and privileged, of those very so-called gentlemen. In some places, golf courses are known for environmental damage, for being built on stolen land and for using scarce water. A few years ago George Monbiot wrote these two articles ([1], [2]) about the involvement of Gary Player, a renowned South African golfer, in a golf development in Myanmar (Burma) and in other countries in the Far East where golf is the sport of corrupt and oppressive elites.

I’m not sure what reputation sportsmen have in America; in this country, footballers in particular are rapidly acquiring a reputation for being overpaid, unsportsmanlike prima donnas. But when one has a domestic crisis, whether it’s his or her fault or not, I don’t see why they should have to retire from public view and then make a grovelling apology to the public. Unless (as with the recent John Terry scandal) it may affect his relationship with his team-mates, it’s got nothing to do with sport.

I submitted a comment to this effect to this post at Shakesville, and for some reason (and no, the “prima donnas” bit wasn’t in it) it got deleted although my comment list at Disqus still lists it.

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