Some cheaters make headlines, but others are never heard of. Either way, infidelity is a game-changer.

I’ve been thinking about the Tiger Woods saga since my post this week. The news coverage we had at the office overnight made me look at the situation even more closely and I realised something about myself… As a journalist, I’ve been standing back, keeping a distance, focusing on the story and staying on the fence for the sake of being as unbiased as possible. But as a woman, I’m disappointed; as a mother, even more so. And not only in Tiger Woods, but in the sponsors who have condoned his behaviour in the name of commercialism.

These days, an affair is just something else that our jaded society seems to glance over and move on from. Sure, men and women cheat on each other all the time, everywhere, in every corner of the world. Some cheaters make headlines. Others are never heard of. Some get caught on reality television. Others get away with it.

For me, infidelity is a deal-breaker. If my husband walked through the door and told me that he’d been unfaithful, I’d tell him to pack his bags. No discussion, no debate. He knows this. It’s something we talked about when we first got together. We had a conversation about cheating and I remember telling him: “If you find that you’re no longer in love with me, if your eyes start to stray, if you get tired of seeing my face in the morning, if you’re dreaming of someone else, then walk away and go after what you want. Don’t stay here and lie.”

It’s that simple for me. It might sound cold, but I would never be able to move forward if the trust was gone. Infidelity is painful and leaves broken homes, broken marriages and broken people in its wake. It can ruin your life – whether you’re a celebrity or not.

Tiger Woods is a celebrity. And he’s in the middle of a media storm right now because he is a household name. Because he carved a niche for himself as a clean-cut professional and suffered a spectacular fall from grace when his wandering ways were revealed. If he happened to be a nobody from nowhere with nothing in his bank account, would the world give a damn? Probably not.

But he is a somebody. And the truth is he cheated on his wife. And that’s why I’m disappointed in him. That’s why I’m angry at him. That’s why I will never look at him the same way. And yes, I know I’m throwing stones. I know I’m on a high horse. I know I’m judging a man I have never met. But let’s not forget that he made a choice. Whatever his reasons, whatever his rationale, whatever his mindset at the time, he was a married man who made a decision to have sex with another woman. Nobody forced him to do it. He knew exactly what he was doing when he dropped his pants.

And yet, astonishingly, one of his biggest sponsors is trying to write off the whole episode as something that “comes with the turf”. I was shocked to read that Nike chairman Phil Knight believes Woods’ “indiscretions” are nothing more than “a minor blip” on the great fairway of his life. Um, what?

I can only assume that Knight is trying to safeguard the company’s bottom line. What reasonable person would classify Woods’s sexual escapades as “minor”? And what message does Knight’s apparent endorsement of the fallen golfer send to the public? That it’s okay to fall off the path as long as you feign remorse? That having loads of money and power makes you immune to responsibility? Immune to accountability? Is this really the lesson we want our children to learn?

I have to wonder what Woods was thinking the first time he strayed. Did he think of the woman wearing his ring? Did he think of his babies? Did he think about what his father would say if he knew? Did he care?

The nagging thought I cannot escape is this one: “Would he have come clean if he hadn’t crashed his car that night? Or would he have continued living a splintered life and trying to keep all the threads from unravelling?”

Given the recent revelations about his character, I am inclined to believe he would have perpetuated the lie. And maybe that would have been worse. ♦ JP

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Broken Strings by James Morrison and Nelly Furtado.


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