Of all the Griefs that harrass the Distrest, Sure the most bitter is scornful Jest
Tiger's world has spun out of control. His latest "gambit" of indefinitely quitting golf is the only way to go. One might say, to twist a phrase borrowed from the above quoted Samuel Johnson, "family values are the last refuge of the adulterer". But I won't say that. For the purpose of this essay, I don't attribute to him any more cynicism or, conversely, morality, than I would any normal human being. Here is my view of this whole thing, from his perspective, as of today that is.
A guy who serially cheats on his wife without guilt does not suddenly develop guilt when caught. He suffers regret. His regret is that his perfect world has been significantly disturbed. The nature of this perfect world had been the entire "Tigerness" we all saw; endorsements, fame, admiration, the satisfaction of the hunt for golf immortality, wife and kids (without the restrictions of actually having to live with them all the time); plus the Tigerness we did not see; all the sex he could ever want. It is the "Tigerness" we saw, the once in a lifetime mega-competitor, (call him "Super Ego Tiger" versus the Tiger we did not see, "Id Tiger"), that got him his endorsements and the global admiration. He has lost a big chunk of that admiration and is on the precipice of losing all his endorsements. In a "marked to market world", his endorsements have lost much value. No one is showing Tiger ads.
Tiger's self imposed indefinite suspension from golf is all about getting popular opinion back on his side. America is the land of forgiveness. Michael Vick gets more attention than any 3rd string QB in football history because he is on a forgiveness tour. This happens all the time with celebrity. Tiger (let's call him "Ego Tiger") is basically saying something like the following to the world."The "Tigerness" you saw (Tiger without the serial adultery) is the way one ("I") ought to be, even though I was not him. You, the public, were right to admire that person. But I failed you and, more importantly, my family. I may never fully become that person you thought you saw, but I will try. We all know the most important thing in life is family. Before I can accomplish anything that matters---including golf---my family first must be restored---or at least I must try everything to make that happen. If I can't, then I alone will suffer the consequences. Only when that effort has been made, can I then return to the important, but secondary, work of being the greatest golfer ever".
Men who watch ESPN or Sports Center to get their Tiger News miss one vital cultural component to the "meaning of Tiger". The opinion of women will impact his rehabilitation. They may never trust him again, but he needs them to stop loathing him. Women find his actions disturbing and threatening. "If he can do it, so can my husband/boyfriend". They liked Tiger, but not anymore, for now at least.
Mens' opinion of Tiger may be more complex than that of women. Men who live like him (re: serial sex, etc.) are just glad its not them who got caught. Men who don't cheat are disappointed they lost such a great fellow chaste "teammate". It does not matter what the great atheists of the 19th and early 20th century thought (e.g., Freud and Nietzsche) about such matters of Christian guilt and morals. Tiger lives in the "wheelhouse" of so called "common" morality, which is America.
He is desperate to put the metaphorical cracked bowl of his life back together piece by piece. Why? Because Tiger wants the admiration, the glory and the money. Now he is a laughingstock. But he does not want to be John Daley. He want to be "Tiger Woods". We cannot know if this is a cynical ploy, a sincere move, or a vain attempt at unnatural self suppression. I happen to believe it is easier to accomplish his objective as a true believer. Then he does not have to remember all the lies he tells himself or others. Admittedly, it could become a holding pattern too. That is, he can go through the strenuous motions of trying to make his marriage work and then when it fails people will have at least believed he tried. But maybe he really wants to stay married. I certainly don't know. But the bottom line is he wants his old life back--the Super Ego version. He will give up "Id Tiger" if he needs to, at least until some new relationship between he and the public develops.
If we have heard the worst of it (for example, we don't want to hear about bi-sexual orgies) then this may succeed. But he must be seen to be doing penance. Our fallen heroes, to be forgiven, must suffer righteous penance. Just think Roman Catholic catechism, confession, and penance. One thing is for certain. Sports fans will flock back to Tiger. He just needs to show his fans he cares enough to suffer.
Not for them. But for their wives (and children).