On the eve of Tiger’s most recent accident, covered non-stop on CNN, a FaceBook “friend’ asked, “Does the fact that he is a highly successful golfer warrant round the clock news coverage”?
While at first the question surprised me, it did inspire me to stop and want to answer it. At first I just wanted to answer the question for myself. Then I thought I would share it with you.
I could call Tiger Woods a lot of things. Especially if this was 2009 after that now infamous Thanksgiving week-end, I could really call him a lot of things. But a “highly successful” golfer is not one of the ways I would ever describe Eldrick.
Tiger transcended the game. Once you watched him, in person or on TV, the memory would stay with you forever. For those that did not know the difference between a hockey puck and a golf ball, they knew Tiger.
Beyond the athletic challenges of the game, add the pressure of color and other barriers that Tiger had to overcome. Jack Nicklaus didn’t have the weight of ethnicity to carry around 18 holes of golf. He won the Master’s just seven years after they allowed African-American men to walk the fairways as anything other than a caddy. He won at Augusta 15 years before women were allowed to be members.
Tiger like Ali is in a very elite class of athletes. He had an allure – through our familiarity with him we got to see how fragile athletes are: they succumb to illness, injury and disease. We see that life is not as perfect as the way they play their game.
On the field of play Tiger was #1 for ten years. That is a life time in professional sports.
He came back, he put himself out there. He came back from surgeries, prescription med problems, and a sex scandal the likes and numbers we have never seen.
Personally, I would not insult his contribution by referring to him as a highly successful golfer. It’s kind of like saying Kobe was an adequate basketball player.
To me the question is, in life more than golf, what happens next? #Tiger