To all you little boys and girls out there who want to be famous, today’s lesson is about a great man named Tiger Woods who once had to apologize to the world for his “transgressions.”
OK, so no one is perfect, and the best thing to do when admitting misbehavior is to confront it honestly and openly with those whom you have offended. The process is always painful, and if you're lucky, humbling. But if you're famous, like the great Tiger Woods, it becomes public humiliation as well. And that is why today’s youth should be wary of fame. Its riches often comes at a high price.
Tiger has—literally—a billion dollars. He is the symbol of unparalleled excellence. He has big cars and a bigger house with fire hydrants at the end of the driveway. But today his name is on the list of fallen angels, people who have been forced to remind us that they are not perfect and that they need some privacy to work out their family issues. The Bill Clintons, Kobe Bryants, Michael Vicks, John Ensigns, Eliot Spitzers and Mark Sanfords of the world. Tiger Woods on this list or any such list is a shocking aberration. The New York Daily News even threw in Kate Gosselin, Kanye West and Rudy Giuliani.
But that's not right. This is a man whose brand was so strong and so immaculate that for years he had people all over the globe walking around saying: “I'm Tiger Woods.” And who did not want to be?
"I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves," Woods wrote on his Web site after three days in the bunker trying to avoid questions about a car crash in his own driveway. "I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.”
He shouldn’t have to do that. But Tiger, when you’re as rich and famous as you are, “personal sins” are no longer personal, and they do “require press releases” and “public confesses.” It comes with the territory.
So to the kids—and grown-ups for that matter—out there, dying to be rappers, models, entertainers and moguls, I know there is nothing I can say to talk you out of wanting to be rich, but rich does not necessarily have to go with famous. Be careful what you wish for.
Terence Samuel is deputy editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.