Tiger Woods & Michael Jackson: Prodigies with Sex Problems
Rumor has it that Tiger Woods is building an “oxygen therapy” room in his Jupiter Island pad, possibly with a hyperbaric chamber similar to one Michael Jackson is said to have slept in. This wouldn’t be the only thing that the beleaguered golf star has in common with the tortured, late pop legend.
Tiger was born into golf just as Michael Jackson was born into music. A Mozart of this eccentric lily-white diversion, little Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods was another angel-faced boy prodigy driven by his taskmaster father, Earl Woods—a man who has fared somewhat better in the public eye than the notorious Joe Jackson. Tiger won early; he won big and he kept winning. Unfamiliar with the sensation of losing, it seems he never learned the important lessons of humility and empathy that the rest of us reluctantly discover as we stumble through life while Tiger continues to swing.
On some level, both Tiger and MJ “never had a childhood” (as is so often said of child stars) but, in another sense, neither ever grew out of childhood; they never learned to make the uncomfortable compromises of *normal* adulthood.
This is characteristic of many early-achievers. People who “have it all” from the beginning tend to expect more than the rest of us would consider fair. They’re not used to hearing the word “no.” The Little Prince of Golf, Tiger was “to the manner born,” spoiled by the adults surrounding him because he spoiled them with winning and more winning, just as MJ spoiled his family with his musical success; they, in turn, spoiled him, shielding him from the hard knocks of everyday life and the need to *grow up* like the rest of us.
Tiger’s rocket to the top was eerily similar to MJ’s, but even more focused on financial success. More than just a winner on the course, Team Tiger turned golf’s Little Prince into the King of Endorsements: the world’s first billionaire sportsman. To win that game, Tiger felt he had to play the role of honest, faithful “family man” to the hilt—a task he probably figured couldn’t be half as hard as dominating a fiercely competitive sport. Little did he know that a sex drive isn’t quite as simple to control as a power drive. MJ also had a notoriously tough time coping with the complexities of his sexuality.
Some say the death of Tiger’s Svengali dad contributed to making him run amok with the mistresses. The elder Woods was rumored to have been a bit of a Playboy himself. Earl Woods had some privacy, there was no audience expecting him to be Mr. Perfect. But a lot of people—his sponsors among them—counted on Tiger to uphold his image as more than just the world’s greatest golfer, but as the ideal husband and dad.
The pressure must have been immense, but the grown-up prodigy, was raised to work miracles, counted on success. Assuming that he can get away with things that others can’t, he became curious, experimental, reckless. Maybe the Tiger grew more curious than a cat, wanting to see just how far he could push the limits of his charmed life. MJ also constantly tested his sexual and gender boundaries. Both got “caught” on some level, and society wasn’t kind to either. We cherish our adorable child stars, elevating them to the level of angels in our celebrity pantheon. But if and when they show their human side, we clip their wings, let them fall to the ground and then we stomp on them for our sadistic pleasure. Sometimes, as in MJ’s case, the eventual results are tragic. Only time will tell if Tiger can turn his scandal and consequent societal stomping into a learning, growing experience that helps him develop into a more complete, mature human being.