Tiger Woods and the Only Vote that Counts

So Tiger Woods is now the Athlete of the Decade. Great.  How did Doug Ferguson put it in his AP article?

“Even as a sex scandal changed the way people look at Woods, the records he set could not be ignored.”[1]

Well, Mike Strain, senior editor of the Tulsa World could not ignore them. He said,

“The only reason I wouldn’t vote for Tiger Woods is because of the events of the last three weeks.”[2]

Yes, being exposed as a world-class adulterer and then being voted Athlete of the Year is not exactly what makes for greatness. I was relieved to see some glimmer of moral sanity in Mike Strain’s comments, amidst the apparently mindless, compartmentalized thinking of those who voted for him.

What the AP writers did in making that vote was to tell every kid out there, and you and I both know that they are watching and hearing the news about Woods, that you can live a life of Hell and still be the “best.” It is a lie. The man’s life is in shambles. That his wife reportedly teed off on his head with a golf club after learning of his adulterous life, was not only a perfect and perfectly sad irony which rose to the level of a Shakespearean tragedy, but also a painfully sick and sordid portrait of what his “accomplishments” really meant. Nothing.

You can be the most successful man in the world and if you are not a godly husband and father, you are a failure. On the other hand, you can be bankrupt, be the biggest loser in sports or business or any other profession, and yet if you are a man of integrity with your wife and family, then you are a success. In the end, that is what counts. Nothing else.

Woods was and is a great golfer. So what? He is a failure as a man. And I know failures. I was one (not like Tiger as the details matter little for how one gets to the “hog pen,” just that you are there) I just didn’t have the Entertainment Tonight paparazzi camping out next to my digs. And my heart breaks for the thought of Tiger’s father, now passed away, and how he invested his life in making Tiger a great golfer. His death has spared him from seeing that Tiger hit that mark but missed the green altogether in the game of life, which is the real game, the only game that counts.

Jesus Christ is in the business of redeeming failures. I know. And the Bible declares that the same Christ who saved Saul of Tarsus, can save a Tiger Woods. It was St. Paul who said of himself, “I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent (for as Saul, he was a religious hit man who made a living out of persecuting believers in Jesus). But I received mercy…and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (from 1 Timothy 1:13-15).

Tiger must see that it is not the vote of the AP that counts, but the vote of God for eternity that counts. It is the ultimate Mulligan. And when that happens, then you will finally get the vote of your family. Combine both of those together and you have a role model for our children. Divorce them and you have a monstrosity that should be shown to be what it is: a tragic situation desperately reflecting this fallen world. And a situation that cries out for a new title, not “AP Athlete of the Decade,” which is a mockery and a ridiculous accolade that I am sure impresses his wife very little, but rather another title, “Sinner saved by Grace.”

For the sake of his family, and the millions of people watching, and for his true legacy, the legacy he will leave for his children, I pray he gains that title. I want to cast my vote for him now in prayer.

[1] Doug Ferguson, “AP Votes Woods the Decade’s Top Athlete,” The Charlotte Observer 2009, 3A.

[2] Ibid.


About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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