In 2002 when the Muhammed Ali biopic starring Will Smith was playing, I asked the woman I was dating at the time if she would like to go see it with me. She basically ‘kissed her teeth’ (Jamaicans/West Indians in da house know what I mean) and went into this rant that although she acknowledged his accomplishments as a boxer, she had no respect for him as a man, husband or father, because of the numerous affairs he had with other women during his marriages! 

During our discussion, in which I was sinking, she went on to state that she felt the same about Martin Luther King. She respected his work and sacrifice as a civil rights leader, however as a man of God, husband and father, he was hypocritical and lacked credibility in her eyes due to his affairs with other women, particularly “White” women! She went on to argue that although the Black community puts men like these on a pedestal for their prowess and accomplishments, we ignore the fact that their infidelity reinforces the stereotype of the oversexed Black male, does irrefutable harm to the Black family, destroys the Black community… and more importantly, we never acknowledge the pain and shame their infidelity caused their wives and children.

I had never had the issue of infidelity explained to me in this way before… and with so much passion. In fact she presented a well thought out viewpoint, underpinned by her sense of morality and expectations of the sanctity of marriage. Needless to say, I went to see the film alone.

On Friday Tiger Woods held a press conference to address his infidelity. He apologized to his wife, family, fellow golfers, sponsors, the children and people involved in his foundation and fans. He took full responsibility for his actions, asked for forgiveness and promised to be a better man in the future. He wisely took no questions, did the customary {{{hugs}}} to his mother and close friends… and then got the hell out of there!

There are those in the media who called it a sham because Woods had handpicked the members of the media who were present and took no questions. In reality they are pissed because he didn’t play the game by their rules. He became the ringmaster of their stage, the media circus. There are those who called it a sham because they never liked Woods, or due to his infidelities have lost adoration and/or respect for him. They see the press conference as the standard, necessary strategy he must take to regain his popularity and commercial viability, and not something sincere.

Here’s my take, for what (little) it’s worth. Tiger Woods, the brand, did what he had to do and held the press conference to begin the road back to commercial viability. However, I do believe the apology was sincere. Tiger Woods, the man, has only to answer to his wife, his family and his God. Tiger Woods doesn’t owe me or the public at large any details or explanations. Am I disappointed in Tiger Woods? In a word: “NO”. I’m certainly surprised that he was so stupid to think that he could get away this behaviour in this age of “TMZ” and everyone looking to cash in on their 15 minutes of fame, but as he honestly admitted… he was arrogant. So “no” I’m not disappointed because although he is undoubtedly the best golfer of my generation and the most compelling athlete today, he is just a man… with weaknesses and failings like any other man. I had no emotional investment tied up in Tiger Woods.

That being said, I always considered him to be one of the positive role models for my son. Regardless, I have come to realize even more, that the most influential role model for my son, positive or negative, is me. I have always felt that it is important to teach him to learn from the mistakes of others, but to only emulate those who are successful in their endeavours. I will teach him when it comes to being a successful athlete, Muhammed Ali and Tiger Woods are definitely worthy role models. When it comes to seeking inspiration from someone who stands and sacrifices for what they believe is right, in the face of great opposition, Muhammed Ali is also a great role model. When it comes to emulating someone who worked selflessly for the advancement of their community and society as a whole, he should look to Martin Luther King. When it comes to being a success as a husband and father, I need to ensure that I live my life in such a way that I am the role model he looks to pattern his life after.

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