A Father’s Voice

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.

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6 thoughts on “A Father’s Voice

  1. Very well put Shane. I saw this ad this morning while at the gym. I could not hear the audio as I had my own music going in my ears via headphones. As i watched the screen I was waiting for something to happen. Then as i continued to watch, I was wondering what was going on. My thought was it saw Tiger apologizing to the public. Now that i have ‘heard” what was on there, I also resonate with you and Tiger’s dad about how we handle our children’s mistakes.

    I feel bad for Tiger and his family. I do not in any way condone what he did, but i pray that he receives the same forgiveness that God gives each of us for our shortcomings. Tiger’s is more public and many more people will remember his faults for a long time then people will remember mine. Yet, God still forgives. And He also says if we bring our faults to Him, He forgets. Amazing huh?

    Again, thanks for the insight. I too will hope to be more of a listener when my child makes an unwise choice instead of a screamer. The world will do a good job of breaking them down. We fathers need to be the ones to build them up

    –Jason.

  2. As a non-TV watcher, this is the first time I’ve seen that ad. Wow. My first thought was, why does his dad want to know what Tiger’s thoughts and feelings were? This question is undoubtedly rooted in my upbringing where my dad did not want to know what was going on inside me, he just wanted everything to look ok on the outside. Certainly Tiger’s dad was extending a lot of grace and forgiveness, but it’s a while after the fact. He had a lot of time to cool down. Regardless, we can all learn from this man (his dad, not Tiger).

  3. When you say Tiger’s dad has had a long time to “cool down” … well … quite literally I suppose. πŸ˜†

    Earl Woods died in May of 2006. The audio in the commercial was recorded long before Tiger’s infidelities become public.

  4. The first time I saw the commercial I was overwhelmed by it; not in a bad way, but the depth of it and how so little can, in a sense, say so much. I’m a HUGE fan of the commercial and couldn’t agree with your thoughts about it more. Kudos to Tiger and Nike for taking a risk like this one with the commercial and may it keep Tiger, and others too, accountable for their actions! Thanks for your thoughts on it! πŸ™‚

  5. I think all this attention to what tiger did is ridiculous personally, The “crime” he comitted pales in comparison to many of the other crimes that have been committed by numerous other athletes. How many sports figures have franchise families of illegitamate children, or have numerous drug or sexual misconduct charges or have even killed people.

    Gallup polled the american people a few years back and found that 22% of men and 14% of women admitted to having an affair. I have to imagine that the real number is far larger than that. I honestly can’t believe that many people answered truthfully.

    All that being said I don’t see any remorse in Tiger or any attitude other than the self entitled guy he has always been. to me every step he has taken has led up to getting his face back in TV ads and back to making the money. And that for him and for people who are willing to give him thier money is perfectly fine.

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