Tiger Woods and Israel Folau are extraordinary, almost once-in-a-lifetime sports superstars. Each resonates the sublime physical grace that epitomises great athletes and dancers. Each is a relentless competitor. Woods, especially after Sunday’s miraculous return to the podium after an 11-year absence may be more widely known as Folau plies his trade in the relative backwater of Australian rugby.
They have more in common than prodigious talent — each faced challenges that could end their careers. At one stage, Woods’ personal life would have enraged fans and sponsors. He endured a litany of surgeries that at one point meant he could barely walk much less play golf.
Folau’s career, one that made him Australia’s best-known and best-paid player, may be over because of his repeated social media expressions of fundamentalist Christian views, which were as absolute and intolerant as they were offensive.
In an ideal world, Folau could learn from Woods’ early mistakes but it is one of humanity’s tragedies that extreme religious views often make rational behaviour impossible.