Tiger’s Apologists

A caller yesterday got Rush Limbaugh talking about Tiger Woods and his victory at the PGA. The caller was a former Woods hater who has been warming to him since the birth of Alexis. She was amazed that he could still do a good job while having to stay up nights changing diapers, and doing feedings. She thinks the marriage and kid thing makes him more human.

Please. Tiger does NOT stay up nights feeding the baby (and if he does, it’s because he chooses to, not because he has to). He’s got five hundred million dollars. There are people he hires to do that. Ditto with diapers. His wife is a former nanny to Jesper Parnevik’s kids. I’m sure she knows all about the advantages of hired help. (I’m reminded of the story of how West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller wanted his kids to be born in a log cabin, so he built a log cabin exterior around a fully-equipped hospital room).

What’s so remarkable about a person having kids and continuing to perform at a high level? Everyone with kids has done that. I have two kids, and I am just as good a teacher now as before. My wife is just as good a nurse. Since we don’t have the money to hire a nanny, we really DID stay up at night and go to work exhausted. Having kids is no excuse for a drop off in work performance.

Bill Gates has kids. Does anyone write about how remarkable it is that Microsoft keeps running. My doctor has kids. That doesn’t make me wonder if the quality of care is any less.

And while I’m being cranky, I’ll take another shot at the Tiger apologists (note that none of this is directed at Tiger. He doesn’t make these excuses, others do). After his father died, Tiger’s sycophants made excuses about how difficult it must be for him to return to the course, and how it affected his play.

Again, please. Every one of us eventually loses our parents. While we each deal with grief in different ways, there is nothing remarkable about Tiger’s loss. I lost my own father—whom I loved just as much as Tiger loved his—at about the same time. I got two days off for “bereavement”, and then had to go right back into the classroom, teaching at the same level as before. No one was going to make excuses for me if my students failed to pass the state’s standardized tests at the end of the semester. I didn’t get to sit out of my profession for a couple of months; no one else does, either.

Tiger’s disciples would counter that his case is different because it was his father who pushed him into golf. But what’s so remarkable about that? Professions run in families. Doctors have children who become doctors. There are thousands of families of firefighters, policemen, soldiers, lawyers, etc. My father was a teacher, and it was his example that led me to the profession.

Finally, I’m sick of hearing about how professional athletes have to face so much pressure.

Pressure? Tiger doesn’t have any idea what pressure is. If he wins, or if he loses, he still gets a bajillion dollars from Nike and his sponsors. With that situation, I’d be completely relaxed. Pressure is trying to please a boss who just can’t be satisfied. Pressure is knowing that if you don’t meet sales and profit targets, you will be fired and without the pay, you’ll lose your house. Pressure is being laid off from the assembly line and trying to find a patchwork of odd jobs to feed your family.

How does doing your job while people are watching constitute pressure? Teachers perform for audiences. Shopkeepers perform daily for the hundreds of customers who visit. If the shopkeeper’s preparation and performance are not sufficient, customers don’t buy, and they are out of business. Line workers perform for an army of supervisors, accountants, executives—and ultimately—thousands of customers. Poor performance leads to bad products, which leads to loss of profit and layoffs.

Yes, golf is hard. But so is accounting. And medicine. And working on the line. With his icy personality, Tiger would be a failure as a teacher. I would be a failure as a professional golfer. We each do what we do.

So lets stop thinking that Tiger is so different. He’s a professional, and he’s doing his job—just as the rest of us are.

6 thoughts on “Tiger’s Apologists”

  1. I think it’s important to remember, that Tiger plays golf, and performs in commercials.  The pieces you’re talking about are from the publicists and media who need to sell a story.  It’s just the banter that fills the dead air between the action and commercials in all broadcasting.

  2. >So lets stop thinking that Tiger is so different. He’s a professional, and he’s doing his job—just as the rest of us are.

    There is a BIG difference – simply the fact that Tiger is the BEST THERE HAS EVER BEEN in doing his job.

    How many others can claim that?

    Also I dont agree on your comments on pressure. Why do you think so many other pro golfers choke under pressure from Tiger? It is not about money – it is the pressure to win. You wont understand that unless you compete at the highest level.

  3. Amit … I’m the best high school economics teacher in America. I spend enormous amounts of time working out new ways to teach the “dismal science” to teenagers. My students excel on their standardized tests. And in that, I compete at the highest level.

    The mistake that people make is in thinking that only athletes “compete at the highest level.” The miners that Miranda mentioned certainly compete at the highest level … theirs is a life-or-death, do-or-die kind of competition and pressure. Mrs. GolfBlogger, the labor and delivery nurse competes at the highest level. If she screws up, a baby could die. Ditto doctors. And so on, and so on.

    If Tiger, or another pro golfer fails, however, there are no real repercussions.

  4. >> . I’m the best high school economics teacher in America.

    You may very well be sir. But it is one thing to claim it yourselves and quite another for the rest of the world to universally acknowledge it.

    >> If Tiger, or another pro golfer fails, however, there are no real repercussions
    Hmmm… the rest of the world is watching him fail so there will be repercussions for the golfer – it is all a mind game!

    Most of us dont have to perform our duties under such intense public scrutiny and we are unaware of the effects it can have on our performance.

  5. There’s no pressure if you make $50 million—win or lose. If Tiger never wins another tournament, he’ll still take in millions yearly from endorsements … and when that dries up he can live off the $500 million he’s already accumulated.

    If he never wins another, nobody dies. Nobody suffers. And he’s still rich beyond imagining. If Tiger is feeling any pressure, it’s a mental failing on his part.

    And I don’t think he really feels any pressure at all.

    But remember, this whole post was about the Tiger apologists, not Tiger. It’s everyone else who talks about the pressures that Tiger is under. It’s everyone else who assumes that being the top golfer carries some sort of supernatural pressure. Tiger doesn’t discuss it, except in the most banal of terms.


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