Who Can We Trust, If Not Tiger Woods?

William SharonCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2009

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - DECEMBER 01:  A sign of Tiger Woods overlooks the 18th green during preview for the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club on December 1, 2009 in Thousand Oaks, California.  Woods withdrew from the tournament.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Why, Tiger, why, why, why? Why did you have to go and ruin it for everyone? Why did you have to slap us all in the face with your imperfection? That same imperfection that we didn’t think you had? That same imperfection that we didn’t think Barry Bonds had? That A-Rod had? That Kobe had? That LeBron STILL doesn’t have? Why why why why?

It is a sad day when this question is so easily answered; when we as fans are forced to grasp at our last pure sports heroes, our LeBrons our Pujols our Mannings. When we see the age of the “favorite player” fade into “the guy who didn’t cheat.”

Of course, when I say “cheat” I don’t mean break the rules of sports. Oh no, the confinements of professional athletics are but one of the lines a player can cross over to reach the dark side of fame, the increasingly populated list of infamous athletes.

It is not important whether a player took steroids, committed a crime, or let down his or her family; it all falls into the same category, imperfection.

Tiger Woods is just another case of the same old story, believed by the fans to be the embodiment of the sport’s morals; the white knight keeping the fabric of the game clean, giving hope to us all. Maybe, just maybe there was still good in the sports world.

 But what now? Do we abandon all hope? Do we condemn all of our favorite athletes to the fate of Bonds and Woods? The fate of skepticism? How can we not? How can we just sit back and say that next time it will be better? How can we say, like we once did about Woods, that all the other athletes are just, and honorable, and won’t let us down?

How long can we stay in the sheep herd we call reasonable doubt, losing our athletes one by one to imperfection, acting surprised and dismayed every time one of our titans falls?

With Tiger Woods’ demise, no matter how unrelated it is to sports, we must finally see that a trust in an athlete is a trust misplaced. It is a false hope, waiting to be dashed against the rocks.

So the great have fallen, and so the great will continue to fall, and we will continue to watch them fall. Maybe we will watch with surprise, maybe we will not, but it will not change. There will be the occasional exception, but then again, wasn’t Tiger Woods one of these exceptions?

So as we lose another of our sports legends, we must look to glorify someone else for the time being, that is, until they fall back down with the rest of us.