Now that Tiger is officially divorced from his wife, Elin, I want to add my thoughts to this unfortunate situation: Mark Kreidler wrote a great article for ESPN.com last week (which you can find here). I’ll use parts of his article to make my point.
He writes, “Elite Athletes fail at marriage all the time — and infidelity is only the most salacious of the many reasons why. Money issues, fame issues, travel issues, focus issues, time issues: It’s more difficult than you’d think, being a great athlete and being married at the same time.”
Now re-read that sentence and substitute “human being” for “athlete.” It doesn’t sound any different, does it?
Even the following paragraph doesn’t add much to help us understand why athletes are unique:
“Most of the top tier athletes I’ve known who failed at marriage suffered either from me-itis, got-rich-too-fast-syndrome, or a pronounced case of arrested adolescence. Some of them realized after the fact that they liked being single and moneyed more than they liked being married. A few simply chose horribly when it came to a partner (that isn’t unique to athletes; the divorce rate in America overall is put at roughly 40 to 50 percent, according to studies by Enrichment Journal and the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, among others found at divorcerate.org), and some of them got married very young in life and had no idea the stress that a job of constant travel puts on the relationship.”
Other than the fact that top athletes make more money than most American’s, it’s pretty clear that all marriages fall apart for the same financial and familial struggles that we all experience; athletes are no different. Their problems may be more pronounced due to their high-profile nature, but, at the end of the day, they’re all one and the same.
So what can we do to address the challenge of stemming the rise in the divorce rate among the general population and, more specifically, in religious communities? Barring children from watching sports so that they will not worship and idolize these fallible “stars” will not make a difference, as we have ascertained that married athletes are, in essence, no different than any other married couple.
What, then, can we do to make a difference? One key ingredient to any solution is to place God at the center of our lives.
Instead of worshiping THINGS such as money, fame, women, prestige, honor, and glory, we need to start worshiping GOD and the values he bequeathed to us in the Torah with that much more fervor and focus.
With the High Holidays approaching, the time for introspection and reflection on our past year and how to improve for the coming year is upon us. Married men and women are always looking for ways to improve their marriages, and no one wants to end up in the same mess as Tiger and Elin.
To that end, we need to worship God: place him at the center and core of our lives; trust in his abilities and cherish his commandments, thereby allowing us to lead and live a long, fulfilled, meaningful, and happily married life.