Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Let's Talk Golf...
I can feel your pain reading the title, thinking, "Oh no, enough about Tiger Woods already." I've been thinking about straying from my favorite sports and writing this for a few days now. I wasn't sure I would, and then today I learned that Tiger Woods was voted "Top Athlete of the Decade" by a group of AP Sports Writers. Behind him was Lance Armstrong, winner of 6 TDF's over the decade, not to mention his accomplishments off the bike with his Livestrong Foundation. Then in third was Roger Federer, followed in fourth by Michael Phelps, and then in fifth, Tom Brady.
Out of all these guys, three seem to have kept themselves and their images clean. We all remember the pot smoking admission from Michael Phelps. He served his punishment, and has since returned to killing his competition. Now we have Tiger Woods with somewhere around 10 plus women claiming to have had sexual affairs with him, all while his wife and children were at home apparently clueless to his extra marital affairs.
So, when I saw that he was the choice as "Top Athlete of the Decade", I had to stop and take pause. No one can argue that his accomplishments were anything less than stellar. 56 PGA Tour victories, including 12 Majors, and three career Grand Slams. Nope, you can't argue that his performance over the last decade is with out a doubt one of the most dominating in the history of any sport.
One can argue, however, that the performance of the second place finisher Lance Armstrong is a bigger feat considering that he is the only cyclist to win 7 Tours, let alone that he won them all in consecutive years. Now keep in mind he only gets credit for the 6 he won in this past decade, but still, this is a pretty incredible feat. The fact is that Tiger has won 14 Majors, which still falls short of the overall record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus. In other words, he isn't the only person to win at least 14 majors. The fact is that golf is watched on television much more than cycling is. AP golf writer Doug Ferguson says about Tiger, "His influence has been so powerful that TV ratings spiked whenever he played, even more when he has been in contention." I would argue that television ratings should have nothing to do with this at all. Television ratings should not be a factor in the voting process, when it is clear that television coverage is not equal with all sports.
What about image? Should image be a factor? What about someone like Barry Bonds? His image was tarnished by allegations of steroid use. I for one, can never accept his accomplishments as being great as long as the allegations are there. It's the asterisk factor. What about Ben Johnson, or Floyd Landis? Marion Jones, or Roger Clemens? In the case of Olympian Ben Johnson, he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and was stripped of his gold medal and 1987 World Championship title. Marion Jones admitted to steroid use, was stripped of her medals, and spent time in prison. One might say these athletes "cheated".
Well, I say that Tiger cheated. He cheated on his wife, his children, his fans, and the world of golf. He has let a lot of people down. You know, I think that most people can forgive for one or two transgressions, but Tiger has gone well over his limit. Look, I know there are some of you who feel we need to stay out of Tiger's personal life. Well, I say that if Tiger would have kept his zipper up, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I for one want real sports heroes to look up to. Real men and women who live lives of integrity, and honesty. Sports heroes my children can look up to. I can overlook one or two mistakes, but this is just too much.
I still have a sick feeling in my stomach just knowing he was chosen as "Top Athlete of the Decade". I will never understand why we continue to reward people when clearly, they have not only tarnished their own image, but have tarnished the image of their respective sport as well. Yes, golf will suffer greatly from Tiger's cheating, as will his wife and children. So, take that into consideration the next time you see Tiger step into the Tee Box. That of course is if he ever does. With that, I leave you with a few quotes from the cheater himself.
Tiger Woods about Elin: "My wife, we're in it together. We're a team, and we do things as a team. And I care about her with all my heart."
Tiger Woods: "I have a balance in my life. Ever since Elin came into my life, things just became a lot better. Someone you can bounce things off, somebody who is a great friend. We do just about everything together. It's nice having that type of person around you. She's so much like me. She's very competitive, very feisty, just like I am."
Source: Reuters UK unknown date
Tiger on marriage: "Honestly, I think I can be better. My marriage is only going to help me. I found a person I can talk to and a person who is going to be by my side through thick and thin. Elin has instilled a lot of confidence in me in all aspects of my life."
Source: Tiger Wood's Website 2005
Tiger: "We are expecting our first child together this summer. Obviously, we couldn't be happier and our families are thrilled. I have always wanted to be a dad."
Source: Tiger Wood's Website 2006