Talk radio, sports bloggers and sports forums are really taking it to Michelle Wie for withdrawing from the John Deere after suffering heat exhaustion. The general tenor of the “conversation” seems to be that her illness was a convenient excuse—that she withdrew because her poor performance and not because of poor health.
One idiot even suggested that she was pregnant.
Now, I’m not a big fan of Michelle playing in Men’s tournaments. I would much rather see her compete on the LPGA (although the LPGA has not seen fit to grant her a card—a topic for another post). But I don’t believe that we have any evidence that would allow us to stick here with the “quitter” label. Indeed, I think that she has rather gamely played her way around the course in every men’s tournament thus far.
Sitting here just up the road in Michigan, I’m quite ready to believe the heat exhaustion story. I doubt that she has ever experienced anything like a midwestern heat-humidity wave.
Heat exhaustion is a dehydration and body temperature problem. It’s likely that she just didn’t hydrate herself enough to begin with. Lack of liquid, combined with heat and humidity drove her body temperature up. Then, as she got hot, she drank large quantities of liquid. But drinking a large amount in a short period of time can make you sick. I’ve seen high school athletes work out in the heat, then drink cup after cup of water, only to throw it all up immediately.
It’s impossible to know just how much she was suffering. But there is one thing I do know … there is no golf tournament worth risking damage to your health. I am a fanatic golfer and as tough as they come, but in the weather we’re having right now, I won’t play except very early in the morning or at twilight. Why take chances?
I have my own dehydration story—but one that occurred in the dead of winter. I went on a twenty mile cross country ski trip when I was in college at West Virginia. Thinking more about the cold than dehydration, I didn’t get enough to drink. When we got back to the dorm, I was shivering, so I went to take a hot shower. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor of the shower room and my roommate was running down the hall screaming “He’s dead! John is dead!”
I had passed out, my face hit the tile floor and the right side of my face was open all the way to the cheekbone (I’m Cherokee and have those high cheekbones. The cheekbone had split my face from the inside out.). Blood was everywhere.
The got me to the University hospital and I got stitched up and rehydrated. The docs did a good job because twenty years later, there is only a thin scar line—you wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out.
But the experience has left me extra cautious about proper hydration. Especially in the summer, I make it a point to get plenty of liquid throughout the day—not just when I’m outside and hot.
I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Michelle and hope she feels better soon.