Like it or Not, Tiger Woods is a Role Model. A Suddenly Horrible Role Model.

I have great parents. As a kid, they provided for me and poured the foundation for me to grow into a decent - I said decent - human being through principles, rules and accepted boundaries.

My parents raised me. But Bjorn Borg molded me.

I'd be home by my 10 p.m. curfew because of my parents. But I'd show up stoic, with long hair and a headband because of the Swedish tennis superstar.

That's why - Tim Cowlishaw - you're absolutely wrong.

While we await Rachel Uchitel's explosive press conference and digest Jesper Parnevik's forked-tongue barbs, ponder this: Tiger Woods, like it or not, is a role model.

Go check out your son's wall. Or his TV. Or even his wardrobe. No offense, dads, but you have a much better chance of seeing a Tiger Fathead, video game or Nike swoosh than an image of yourself.

Charles Barkley once famously said "I am not a role model." But by accepting hundreds of millions from companies like Gatorade and AT&T and Nike and Gillette, Tiger Woods is indeed a role model.

My divorce or Cowlishaw's drinking are one thing. But Tiger is above, beyond and better than any athlete or this generation.

Kids - shoot, even adults - drive his cars and wear his clothes and drink his drinks and buy his razors.

Fine, don't call him a role model. But also don't deny that Tiger Woods is a major, unprecedented influence.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt