Elin’s interview should end the jokes

The Tiger Woods jokes don’t seem quite so funny now that Elin Nordegren has let us in on her pain.

I’m guilty. You sit in this chair passing judgment on celebrities, feasting on their mistakes and forgetting they’re human beings experiencing the same emotional ups and downs as the rest of us.

As a society, we’re so controlled by envy that we’ve reached the conclusion cruelty and an invasion of privacy are the proper tax for fame and wealth.

Tiger Woods destroyed his marriage, hurt Elin Nordegren, betrayed his two children and damaged all of their lives. We, the media and public, made the recovery process far more difficult.

It’s hard to bounce back when the whole world is laughing at you.

Tiger’s ex told People magazine the stress from the public collapse of her marriage caused her hair to fall out. She acknowledged the humiliation.

“I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected his affairs, not one,” she told People in an exclusive interview. “I have been through the stages of disbelief and shock, to anger and ultimately grief over the loss of the family I so badly wanted for my children.”

I don’t feel like laughing anymore. In the wake of a divorce settlement, Nordegren’s decision to consent to a legitimate interview humanized this sad affair. There are real victims and they’re not named Rachel Uchitel or Joslyn James or any of the other bimbos represented by Gloria Allred.

I’ve joked about fidelity and the outdatedness of marriage for male celebrities.

The real story is the fall of integrity and ethics in American society. We don’t even pretend they’re important any longer. I’m not stupid or naive about America’s past. I recognize the truth of the reality portrayed in AMC’s “Mad Men.” Tiger Woods is Don Draper, and for all we know Elin is Betty Draper.

But, other than Roger Sterling’s humor in the first three seasons, watching “Mad Men” makes me sad. I feel terrible for Peggy, Joan and even Betty. Their options for independence and real happiness seem limited.

My initial reaction to the Tiger Woods madness was to defend my golf hero and crack jokes about his lack of discipline and morality. I didn’t think much about Elin and the kids. In private, I argued to friends that she had to know about Tiger’s affairs, and that she was good with it as long as they never became public. I speculated and gossiped. I rationalized that she had done quite well for a bikini model and babysitter.

Getting a small peek into her pain makes me feel stupid. It reminds me of my own mortification when a relationship (or three) has ended thanks to the egg on my face. Money doesn’t soothe the pain, especially not initially.

 

I’m glad Elin talked. It makes me want to hear from Tiger. Previously I’ve supported his decision to handle his private life privately. The price for that privacy? Woods and his situation have become cartoon characters and a fictional script. He’s Peter Griffin in “The Unfamily Guy.”

Tiger should follow Elin’s lead, agree to an interview and let us in on his pain. It could defuse some of the animosity and tension. It could remind us that despite his enormous wealth and shockingly poor judgment, Woods is just a human being, still worthy of sympathy.

I feel like I owe Elin Nordegren (and all women) an apology. I was late to step into her shoes.

 

I feel like Jay Mariotti, a hypocrite.

Like most of the sports-loving Twitter world, I’ve delighted in Mariotti’s public comeuppance. Over the weekend, he was arrested and charged with an unspecified felony following a "domestic incident." Mariotti, a longtime columnist and ESPN talking head, has specialized in calling for harsh repercussions when athletes and coaches run afoul of the law and/or common sense.

It appears Mariotti is no better than or different from the athletes he lambastes. Whether innocent or guilty, Mariotti is capable of getting in the same kind of jam as an athlete alleged to have committed a crime.

And I’m no smarter than Elin Nordegren. I’ve been a fool in love. It’s really not all that funny.

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