While the technology consulting giant Accenture has ended its sponsorship of Tiger Woods and other companies are reassessing their relationship with the world’s best golfer, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer announced today that it is sticking with Woods despite his adulterous relationships. Spokeswoman Mariam Sylla provided the unsurprising politically-correct response. “We respect his performance in the sport,” she said, but his private life is “not our business.”
To acknowledge that Woods is a great golfer is akin to observing that the sun is very hot. His play is sensational and his personal story has been carefully constructed. He has allowed neither politics nor racial extremists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton distract him from his widely appealing and carefully crafted public image. And it is that public image which reveals the silliness of Ms. Sylla’s declaration. Part of Woods’ appeal is the fact that his private image was assumed to be as clean as his public image. And, to be sure, if Woods’ public image continues to suffer as a result of his “private” sins, we will not be surprised to see Tag Heuer bail on the über-successful athlete.
The truth is that a person’s private life does matter, protestations from the pseudo-sophisticates notwithstanding. It just so happens that western culture has come to view one’s sex life as a non-issue. Note Hollywood’s defense of child-rapist Roman Polanski. Pseudo-sophisticates claim to be above such “nonsense,” except, I suspect, when one of them finds his or her own spouse sexually unfaithful.
What has made Tiger Woods an incredibly wealthy man is the assumed clean private life implied by his clean public life. His golfing ability alone has made him a lot of money, but his image coupled with his athletic prowess is what has made him so insanely marketable.
The reality, though, is that Woods’ multiple adulterous escapades are not his ultimate problem. They merely provide an external manifestation of a sinful heart.
And lest we stand in judgment as Woods’ moral superiors, the fact is that many of us have not committed the sins that he committed simply because we have not had the opportunity to do so. We are innately no better morally. “None is righteous,” the apostle Paul contends, “no, not one” (Romans 3:10 [ESV]). Left to ourselves, no sin is beyond our capacity to commit. That is why Jesus came, to save us from God’s just condemnation by voluntarily bearing divine judgment we deserve and accounting us righteous, a grace undeserved. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 [ESV]). May Tiger Woods come to know the same Savior.