By Arman Asemani
As I spent my Sunday watching the Ryder Cup, an international golf contest between the United States and Europe, I continued to be perplexed by the polarizing persona that is Tiger Woods. From humble beginnings to becoming arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Tiger Woods was sports media’s most valuable player. In the 22 years that the PGA Tour Player of the Year award has been given out, Tiger Woods received the award 10 times. Society took his talent and built him up.
Then society took his shortcomings and tore him down. In November of 2009, Tiger Woods was exposed as an unfaithful husband. Multiple women revealed themselves as mistresses of the married man. The face of golf became the face of tabloids. The New York Post featured Tiger Woods on its front cover for 20 straight days following the scandal.
Twenty days was a record for the newspaper company. Do you know what news story held the previous record at 19 days? You got it—the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. That’s right, the love life of Tiger Woods was more newsworthy, at least to one publication, than the largest terrorist attack on American soil.
Why did we care so much about one man’s adultery when there are men cheating on their wives every night? Why did we feel robbed when Lance Armstrong cheated in a sport where cheating is as common as breathing? Why did we feel heartbroken when Bella and Edward from Twilight broke up in real life? Vampires make mistakes, too.
Perhaps we feel connected to these celebrities. Maybe envying Bella and Edward’s relationship in movies made us sad to see it fail in the real world. Maybe loving Taylor Swift’s music made us hate Kanye West for upstaging her at an award show. Maybe hearing of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s affair with a housemaid made us regret impersonating the Terminator as kids. Maybe we care too much.
No—we definitely care too much. We idolize people we have never met and most likely never will. We mistake their celebrity for integrity, and then feel personally betrayed when informed of the public figure’s private secrets.
It saddens me to see boys do school projects on their favorite celebrities. They memorize the icon’s birthday, hometown, college, achievements and salary, but may not know one of those details about their own parents. Or girls who know the name of every girlfriend their musician heart throb has dated in the last two years, but might not know the name of their little brother’s classroom crush.
I accept criticism for being forgiving to the flaws of entertainers. But that is all they are to me—entertainers. I do not look up to any of them. I love watching Tiger Woods and LeBron James dominate their respective sports. I love listening to Kanye West’s music and President Obama’s speeches. But none of those men are role models to me.
I would rather look up to my cousin, who raised three amazing kids with character and work ethic. Or my uncle, who immigrated to America as a teenager and accomplished educational and career achievements that mirror goals I am working toward. Or my grade school teachers, who believed in me and challenged me to strive for excellence in all that I do. I would rather look up to my younger brother and sister than idolize a pop culture icon simply because I know my siblings. I know my cousin, uncle and teachers. I know their struggles and successes. I know and agree with the lives they live and the morals they value.
I have watched and read volumes of information on celebrities. I especially like cliche rags to riches stories, and respect the people who live out those stories, but I do not know the true essence of their character. We need to stop taking these people we see on television so seriously.
You have people in your life that are more than worthy to be role models. Perhaps they are not as rich as Kobe Bryant or as famous as Kim Kardashian, but that is not what you should admire in people anyway. Cherish the honesty and transparency you see in your parents’, counselors’ and professors’ lives. Role models should be people you can model your life after. I love playing golf, but as hard as I try I will likely never reach the success of Tiger Woods, so he is no role model for me.
Next time you are near a computer, search in YouTube: “Charles Barkley I am not a role model.”
Before high school football games my coach used to address the team, “Gentlemen, tonight, let the players play, the coaches coach and officials officiate.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, let the entertainers entertain.