Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Tiger Woods Masters Return: Sport Psychology and life disconnection
Tiger must be a combination of very inwardly focused, yet change his behavior in visible ways toward the fans. The very behavior which he relied on to achieve success had isolated him from fans, media and the general public. He was criticized for his aloofness and detachment. However, in his mia culpa press conference he stated a desire to change his level of "respect" for the game. Club throwing and cursing would be reduced, but also his emotional unavailability to others needed alteration. Increasing his emotional availability and being more "connected" with his fan base and media shows a respect for those who watch and promote his performance. Not to mention, fans and media allow him the fame and fortune his golf prowess garners. The problem Tiger faces is very difficult due to the extreme disconnect from himself which lead to his personal and professional life crisis. Tiger experienced a crisis of "disconnection" in which his personal emotional needs became disconnected from his conscious, logical and evaluative mental side. Before the revelations of Tiger's sexual activity, if asked whether his behavior could endanger his marriage, career, children's emotional wellbeing, and financial earning power if publicized, he would have said "yes". If Tiger was asked if he would want a disclosure of his actions, he would surely have said "no". The key question, and then the evidence of the disconnect, would be asking him "so why are you engaging in such high risk, career and marriage threatening behavior"(not to mention, the report by one of the porn star lovers was that he avoided practicing safe sex). His likely response would have been some illogical rationalization which belied the severity and risk of his actions. The out of control disconnection between high risk actions and its known consequences is a sign of significant emotional dysfunction. Now Tiger must get back to playing at a high level, stay very internally focused to perform well, yet become more connected with himself, his fans, and the public via the media. A gargantuan task. I beleive matters can go two ways for Tiger. One is, he struggles to integrate the complex emotions leading to his high risk behaviors and therefore his golf game struggles. The other possibility is that, although only in treatment for a relatively brief period at this time, he experiences great relief and calm as his emotional needs are better known and met by his actions off the golf course leading to a return to #1 in the world form. Time will tell and all we can hope for is that the best connection Tiger makes is with himself, which should lead to great connection between his clubs and the ball.