Sam and Charlie Woods have been on my mind a lot since speculation first began about Tiger’s alleged affairs. What would this mean for them? Would they join the 13 million children in America living in single-parent families? Would their parents explain this incident to them once they were old enough to understand?
For years I have been an outspoken critic of Tiger Woods for his tepid responses to social issues. I’ve urged him to embrace his prominence as a black athlete and continue the legacy of Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali. I’ve wanted him to tote black junior golfers on his shoulders.
While he could always do more, he has taken action with the $25 million, 35,000-square-foot Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, which provides after-school educational programs for children in the greater Los Angeles area. His Tiger Woods Foundation donates millions of dollars of grants each year to community-based programs all over the country.
But his charitable works were thought to be just the beginning for the Chosen One, who seemed to be an embodiment of the progress black Americans have achieved in the past 70 years. Tiger’s father, Earl, once said that his son would do more good for the world than any person in history. Few pundits are speaking in such grand terms now, though they are talking about his legacy — the impact that all of this will have on his reputation, his golf, his endorsements, his readiness to play Augusta in April.
For now, though, Tiger’s only thoughts should be on healing his family. Not simply because trouble at home can detract from performance on the course, but because he needs to make a positive statement about the importance and durability of marriage and family.
All these years I thought Tiger would help bring new golfers — African-Americans and women — into the game. I thought he would fulfill some of the social goals of the humanitarian and tennis player, Arthur Ashe. But those bigger objectives can wait.
For now, I think his most important contribution would be the modest achievement of simply keeping his family together.