I think this is a genius ad. Obviously, this is not really going to inspire to folks to run out and buy Nike products but I’m not sure that was the purpose of the ad. It serves as a sort of palette cleanser and a profound one at that. Often times when we assess a fallen figure, the conventional impulse is to run away and shun them as if we are incapable of comprehending how they could do such a thing. But in reality what we are really running away from is our own shadow, a recognition that whatever is inside Tiger that drove him to act out is also in us. This is why these kinds of stories are so interesting to us. We love nothing more to deny our own shadow while projecting it onto others who got caught. While I’m not applauding Nike for their altruistic faithfulness to Tiger, who’s been dropped by all of his other corporate partnerships. Obviously they have something to lose in dropping him. But this ad signals to me that they understand this very aspect of what I’m talking about.
I’m rooting for Tiger but I’m rooting for him as a man and not a golfer. The reality is is that often times our greatest quality as a human being inevitably comes with this shadow side. Our greatest strengths clear the way for our greatest weaknesses. For Tiger, his mental focus, his ability to shut the world out and employ laser-like concentration has been something to behold. But in the shadow that it casts is found a predisposition for compartmentalization which, in turn, can give way to living a deeply divided life. I would presume that Tiger is wrestling with this very tension in his therapy and as he learns to take down some of these walls that have divided up his life, he also may lose some of his capacity to focus on the golf course as well as he has in the past. It’s very possible that the more successful Tiger is in dealing with this shadow element, the more his golf game could suffer. It’s not that he can’t be a fantastic golfer and a fantastic husband and father. But if he seeks balance then his golf game will inevitably take a bit of a hit.
While not all of us have made the kinds of mistakes Tiger has made, we all deal with this very tension. Living a life of balance is an extremely difficult, and it’s even more difficult for those who are blessed (or cursed) with possessing extraordinary talent.