Earlier this year I was lucky enough to get a media pass to shoot Tiger Woods during the Tavistock Cup golf tournament, and after I posted some of the shots from the day here on my blog, a friend asked if I might send him a couple of prints of his favorite shots from the bunch. I used MPIX.com to send him two framed prints, and I’m honored that they’ve been hanging on the wall of his office ever since.
Yesterday I got an email from him, and the subject Line read: “Moral Dilemma.” He said he found Tiger’s recent actions dishonorable to his wife and family, and he was so disappointed in him, and had lost such respect for Tiger’s moral judgment, that he had taken the framed prints off his walls, and he wanted to know if I wanted them returned or donated to charity.
Later that same day, I got another email with a similar subject line, but it was from one of my blog readers, asking how I could keep a photo of Tiger in my portfolio (it’s not the one shown above, though it was taken the same day). Then I got another email asking the same thing—-when would I be removing Tiger’s image from my portfolio. I could see a pattern developing.
Last night I called my friend to let him know I was as disappointed in Tiger as he was. We both looked up to Tiger not just as an incredible athlete, but as a role model—-a devoted husband, a sharp businessman, and a family man—a guy that had it all, yet still had it all together, but now we feel much differently. But I asked him to reconsider taking the framed prints down—not because they were photos I had taken, but for something bigger; an act of Forgiveness.
Tiger admitted his mistakes publicly, and took full responsibility for them. He admitted that what he did was wrong, and besides, this is between Tiger and his family. Even so, his entire life—his entire career—will forever be tainted, and impacted, by his transgressions. It will cost him sponsors, fans, and will cause him untold public humiliation for years to come. Now, if Tiger had come out and said, “Hey, it’s no big deal—everybody does it” that’s a different story entirely. In fact, if Tiger had in any way tried to justify what he had done, or downplayed it in any way, he’d be all alone on this one, but he did something most folks in his situation would never do—admit his mistake, publicly apologize, and recommit himself to his wife and family.
Tiger made a monumental mistake, but we all know people in our own lives, (friends, co-workers, perhaps even family members) that have not only done similar things, but in some cases much worse, and I can only hope their private and most humiliating mistakes aren’t paraded around to the entire world like Tiger’s have been. This is another case where people are all too happy to line up and sling arrows at a privileged person. Outside his celebrity, Tiger Woods is a real person, as are his wife and children. They are all real people dealing with a painful situation.
When I look at my Tiger Woods photos, I may never feel the same way I did about the man in the photos, but I won’t be taking them down. I forgive him, too. I’m also not deleting my photos of A-Rod that I took when I shot the New York Yankees, and if I had shots of President Clinton, I wouldn’t remove them either. I’m glad I’m not a celebrity photographer, or I’m not sure I’d be able to display any photos at all. However, I am happy to report that my friend had a change of heart as well and he’s re-hanging those images in his office today.
There is no shortage of people taking shots at, and severely judging Tiger Woods today, and I’m not saying he doesn’t have it coming, but if there’s one thing my Faith has taught me is that when a family is in trouble, we pray for them, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.