Yesterday, Nike unveiled a new ad featuring Tiger Woods – the first such ad since his numerous infidelities became public. It features the voice of his late father, Earl Woods, speaking in a very fatherly tone to his son. The original context of the elder Woods’ words to Tiger are unrelated to his recent troubles, but the implications are unmistakable.
As a father this ad really stirs a lot of emotions in me. I love how stern, yet gentle, Earl’s voice is as he’s speaking to his son. He is aware of the multitude of sins his son has committed, and he is disgraced by them. Yet there is an air of forgiveness to his voice. It is as if his father has already felt the pain of his son’s actions, buried his disappointment, and is now solely focused on his son’s emotional healing and the development of his character going forward.
I find myself challenged by the ad to be a more gracious father. To be more intentional about my words to my own sons, and to demonstrate dignity and patience when they make mistakes. When my kids do things they know they’re not supposed to, maybe getting all worked up and yelling at them all the time isn’t the most productive way to address their behavior. Maybe I’m missing out on opportunities to help them develop better character, rather than simply stopping their bad behavior.
Am I more prone to be rigid and demanding? Or to be inquisitive?
Does the way I interact with my kids promote discussion? Or does it merely demand adherence to an arbitrary code of conduct?
Do I dictate? Or am I genuinely interested in my child’s thinking?
When is the last time I asked my kid about his feelings?
I’m not sure what Nike’s intended purpose was with the ad. My guess would be to help rebuild the image of one of their corporate icons, in order to sell more Swoosh. Which is fine I suppose.
But I’m more inclined to look for substance. To peel back layers to find nuance and meaning. To listen for that gentle, yet stern, voice that speaks character and healing into my own life. They way a loving father speaks to a son.