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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 18, 2010

Parents, not golfers, are true heroes


By Monica Quock Chan

For months now, Tiger Woods has been the center of attention; his transgressions making the news. For many, it represented the ultimate fall from grace. Tiger was supposed to be the person our kids could look up to, and while he may never have called himself a role model, one of his commercials had him "walking on water" to hit a golf shot.

No, Tiger Woods is not a role model; not anymore, anyway. And that's a good thing.

My guess is that most kids could do much better looking within their own families for real heroes. There are moms and dads who struggle each and every day, never forgetting what matters most in life. They teach their children the difference between right and wrong; how to keep themselves and others safe; that discipline is not supposed to hurt, it is supposed to teach; when to say yes, and just as importantly when to say no.

More disturbing than Tiger's fall from grace has been our attempt to put the issue to rest. "He is human." "The man has been through enough already." "He hasn't committed a crime." "This is between him and his wife." I understand the need to move on, but Tiger is a lesson for all of us. He is human, but if he learns his lesson and changes his ways he will not be a hero, he will simply join the ranks of the many outstanding husbands and wives who have kept their word. He has been through more than most could handle, but he falls far short of what his wife has had to endure. He has not committed a crime, but a law violation is not the best measure of right and wrong. Yes, this is between him and his wife, but it is also a discussion for all of us who have been so bold as to commit ourselves to the heart of another.

This past weekend, Tiger returned to the game that made him wealthy. He said all the right things in his press conference, and he even improved ever so slightly his behavior on the course. What most did not see was a disturbing Nike commercial that aired on the Golf Channel; Tiger looking admonishingly into the camera, while his father's disembodied voice asks him what he has learned. Tiger Woods is a grown man, not a child; these were lessons he should have learned long ago.

Still, the larger question is not what Tiger has learned, but what have we learned.

There are many ways to define heroism; being good at hitting a golf ball is not one of them. Letting a star athlete or any pop icon for that matter function as arbiter of family values is a dangerous game. That's true for corporations, too, whether they sell cereal, insurance or shoes. Look to the people matter most in your life and note how they treat their loved ones. And if you are going to invest in someone, put your wallet away and give your time. The return on investment is much better.