Some thoughts on Tiger Woods…and politics

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On The Fence Voters is a political blog/website. We tackle issues in the political world and try to make sense of the two political parties and anything else that might be newsworthy. Occasionally though, society, culture, entertainment, and sports interact with politics to form stories that resonate with everyone. Yesterday, we saw this in real-time in the sports world when Tiger Woods won The Masters golf tournament.

I’m a political junkie. I wouldn’t have a blog like this if I weren’t. But I’m also a sports junkie as well. And sometimes a story so consumes me that I have to weigh in. When Tiger Woods won yesterday, it was a story for the ages–a tale of triumph, tragedy, redemption, and triumph again. It was Tiger’s day yesterday, and no matter what, I wasn’t going to let the political world rain on his parade. But, while I have a story to tell about Tiger, there actually is a political angle to it. Of course, we’re in the age of Donald Trump, aren’t we?

But first, a few thoughts on Tiger—the golfer.

Back in 2008, I was still a full-time worker who lived in the Southern California Desert. The US Open Golf championship was to be played at Torrey Pines Country Club in San Diego, roughly a two and a half hour drive from our home. I talked to my wife and told her it was one of those bucket list things I had wanted to do in my life—to see a Major, especially one where my favorite golfer was participating. So we bought our tickets and headed to the tournament for the third round on Saturday. I was not disappointed.

We, of course, were just two people of several thousand who not only attended the tournament, but also followed Tiger. I had always heard what it was like to follow him around the golf course. The crowds … the cheering … it was all true.

On one of the holes, I’m not sure which, we watched him tee off. The ball left the tee and seemed to fly off into the air with no end in sight. Long and straight, just like I’d seen him do hundreds of times before. But this time something horrible happened. Immediately after he swung the club, he slumped to one leg, writhing in pain. This did not look good.

As we later learned, Tiger was suffering from a broken leg. Yes, he was dealing with it the whole weekend. Miraculously, he ended up winning that tournament. And he needed an extra 18 holes on top of the 72 he had played already to do it. He needed a putt to force a playoff on late Sunday, and of course, in Tiger fashion–he made it.

While we were only there on that Saturday, I’m so glad we made the trip. I’ll never forget the roar of the crowds. I’ll always remember seeing him limp around the course, playing brilliantly—on one leg. It would be his 14th Major victory. And, little did we know, it would be his last … until yesterday.

There was a lot of buzz leading up to this past weekend. The sense was that Tiger had a pretty good chance of getting his 15th major. I wasn’t so sure. It had been such a long drought. He had endured four back surgeries and numerous other ailments over the past 11 years, not to mention personal scandals—mostly self-inflicted.

But there he was yesterday. He started the day only one shot behind the leaders, and he kept hanging around long enough to the point where his closest competitors ended up making significant errors at the wrong time. And the tournament he cherishes the most of all—was his for the taking. Standing on the 18th green, he calmly sank a short two-foot putt for the victory. His arms went up in celebration, the fans began to chant his name, his 15th Major victory and fifth Green Jacket was secured.

I cried. I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m well into my fifth decade on this planet, and I’ve been a sports fan for most of those years. If you have a pulse or even a fraction of emotion in your soul, yesterday’s triumph by Tiger had to put a little lump in your throat—even to those who don’t like the guy. And to be fair, many do not like Tiger Woods, for a variety of reasons. But he’d been through so much. So much personal tragedy and health uncertainty over the past decade or so made yesterday’s victory so much sweeter.

But to those who despise Tiger Woods, and others who would like to make this a political issue, I have a few thoughts as well.

After he won yesterday, I decided to go on Twitter to see what the reaction was and to congratulate the man himself. One of the first things I saw was a photo of Tiger standing with Donald Trump. It was from Charlie Kirk, a conservative I follow on Twitter who always manages to put a political spin on things.

You see, Charlie is one those conservatives whose main objective in life is “owning the libs.” He likes to throw statistics out there, most of the time never bothering to reveal his sources. And he loves to give Donald Trump credit or praise him even when the situation is unwarranted. Yesterday was one of those days. I guess he couldn’t help himself but to interject his unwavering support of the president.

But I also have to say that there are those on the left who gave Tiger a lot of hell for golfing with Donald Trump. I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly pleased myself. But you know what? It’s his choice if he wants to play with the president. And to be fair, Tiger has also played golf with Barrack Obama in the past, while he was president. The thing is, Tiger is not an athlete who engages in political or social issues. It bothers many in the African-American community, as well as some on the progressive side of things.

To me, I couldn’t care less if he engages or not. I’m ok with Lebron James speaking out, just as I’m ok with Tiger or Michael Jordan staying relatively quiet. It’s their choice in my view. All of these guys are some of the greatest, if not the greatest athletes to ever play in their respective sports. Quite frankly, that’s enough for me.

But let’s be honest. There are a lot of Tiger haters out there. In fact, my best friend who I’ve literally known my entire life—we were born 11 days apart and grew up on the same street in Akron, Ohio—is one of them. While we have a lot in common, we also have had some disagreements over the years. And one of them happens to be over how we feel about Tiger Woods. I love the guy. He hates him.

So when Tiger is in the news as he has been recently, our texts tend to be a little on the lively side, to say the least. When he asked me if I thought ‘my boy’ Tiger was going to win this past weekend I told him I was skeptical—but hopeful. I asked him who he thought would win and he responded that he didn’t really care … as long as it wasn’t Tiger.

There’s a lot of reasons for his disdain, one of which stems from the fact he’s been a witness to the Tiger hype going back to the days of Tiger’s youth when he was the can’t miss youth sensation. As a young newspaper guy, my friend had grown tired of it over the years and never liked him from the start.

But the other part of it stems from Tiger—the person. Let’s face it, we’ve heard the stories. We know about the scandals. There’s plenty of ink out there about how Tiger has treated people. He’s not been the friendliest guy in the world, and at times, he’s handled the media like the plague. I’ve heard about his lack of tipping waiters and waitresses. I’ve also heard about the rumors he has used performance-enhancing drugs in the past. And of course, we can’t forget the well-publicized break-up with his wife, surrounded by salacious flings with porn stars.

For me, it’s never been about Tiger, the person. It’s always been about Tiger, the golfer. But my friend also made me think about something, and it brings me back to the political side of this. He said he was surprised that I was ok with Tiger and all the bad stuff surrounding him, but that I was not ok with some of President Trump’s questionable past. Was he right?

No, he was not. And here’s why …

When it comes to Tiger—the person, I’ve noticed some things in recent years. Back in the day when he was dominating golf, I didn’t see a guy who seemed happy with things. He rarely bantered with the guys on the course. In fact, most seemed to be his enemy. There was an aura around him—one that he played so convincingly and so powerfully that his competitors wilted when he was in contention at a tournament. The Tiger look. The Tiger prowl. He used it all to his advantage.

But I’ve noticed in recent years that he seems to have more friends on the PGA Tour. There’s more joking around. There’s more smiling than before. The man has been through so much. He’s 43 years old now. Perhaps we’ve witnessed a man’s maturity right before our very eyes. This is his second chance at life and maybe .. just maybe … this is the new and better Tiger we’re going to see from now on. The American people love these kinds of stories of redemption and second chances.

And after he was done yesterday, as he strolled towards the scoring tent to sign his card, there were many of his peers waiting for him. Guys he had just beaten in the most prestigious tournament any of them will ever play were standing there, patting him on the back—offering congratulations. Many of them are immense talents themselves who were inspired by this man when they were youngsters watching him on Television. Again, an emotional moment. I love second chance moments—in sports—in politics—in life.

But Donald Trump? I’m sorry. For one, he’s the president of the United States. There’s a standard there. I expect at least a bare minimum of rules for a person with such significant responsibilities. He’s failed on so many levels, I’m not going to list them all. But, as far as I’m concerned I couldn’t care less how many porn stars he’s been with or how much he cheated on his ex-wives. This is about how he’s conducted himself in office.

The insults. The division. The scapegoating. The racism. If Trump were able to reverse these things starting tomorrow, I’d be willing to give the man a second chance. But, he’s been part of our political culture now for almost four years. He hasn’t changed yet. He’s not going to.

I was skeptical he could ever change when he was sworn in on January 20, 2017 … but I was willing to give him a chance. But even on that day, he could not resist lying—about the inaugural crowd size. It was a terrible start to a presidency, and he’s continued the same behavior time and time again. So, for my best friend and others who think he might deserve a second chance, I’d like them to give me ONE reason why I should. I’m waiting ….

Finally though, a personal thought on all that transpired over the weekend.

I for one will treasure the moment for as long as I’m alive. I apologize for the sentimental side of my thoughts, but as a man, I’m always looking at ways to improve. I know my faults. I know my weaknesses. Sometimes I wonder why I fall short in certain areas. It’s a never-ending battle for sure, but I do not, and I will not give up trying to strive for betterment.

And it’s the one thing that stands out so much in Tiger’s victory at The Masters. Here’s a guy who had it all—lost it—and got it back. Much of his downfall was self-inflicted. The injuries, however, less so. But through it all, he never gave up. He always believed he could get back on track even though as recently as seventeen months ago, there was a chance he was done with golf. Four back surgeries will do that do you.

He persevered. He triumphed. And now, health willing—we may get to see Tiger 2.0. After so many months of bad news in the political world, watching what transpired over the weekend gives me a good feeling inside.

I’m going to savor it for a moment or two.

6 comments

  1. Excellent article, as always! Although, I was expecting that you would include the tweet from Trump after Tiger’s win yesterday that said in part…”because of his incredible Success and Comeback in sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with The Presidential Medal of Freedom.” Now I will agree that Tiger has overcome many difficulties and admirably defeated some of his own demons. His is a great comeback story indeed, whether one is a fan or not. However, does this merit a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Why, because they play golf together? I am interested in your point of view and that of your friend too! Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ellen. I did not know our wonderful potus(ughh) tweeted that. Hmmm. We’ve honored many sports stars in the past. I notice that one of the criteria for the award is: cultural, or other significant private or public endeavors. He would definitely qualify. Obama nominated many stars such as Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Michael Jordan..etc.. Some of the sports stars were not only great at what they did in their prospective fields but also were activists socially…guys like Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Tiger certainly doesn’t fall into that category but as far as what he’s done for the game of golf…his excellence and achievements are extraordinary. I guess beauty is in the eye of beholder. It behooves me to actually agree with anything Trump does or says…but on this one I can’t disagree. Looking at the others on that list? He belongs…Who knows what Trump’s motivation is however. Maybe Tiger let him win? LOL

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  2. Excellent, heartfelt post, my friend. I am not a sports fan AT ALL, and I find golf to be the worst of the worst. A brief background … my dad wanted a boy, he got me instead, and tried to turn me into the son he really wanted. Thus, he took me out golfing every Sunday from around age 6 until I discovered boys around age 13. I hated golf. This was before the day of motorized carts, so here was I, a kid with kid-sized legs, asthma and a heart condition trying to keep up with a man with man-sized legs for 9 holes, which must have been at least 50 miles! I hated it, but I loved my dad, so I did it. That said, I greatly admire Tiger Woods. Yes, he screwed up some things in his personal life, but … don’t we all??? And what business is it of ours anyway? I like the man, from what I know, and I applaud his win. ‘Nuff said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jill. Yeah, I get your drift on golf. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure, especially someone with the history you have with it. Me, I grew up in a house where sports was just part of life. But so was politics as well. Thus, my affinity for both. In many ways sports intersects with society/culture/politics. We see it all the time. Tiger transcends sports. He might be the most recognizable sports figure in the world. And he’s very polarizing. I really do go at it with my buddy on this. I’ve had my issues with Tiger as well. But his success, workmanship, grit, and determination are unmatched. I just admire greatness when it comes to athletes. They don’t have to be Mother Theresa!! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, they don’t have to be Mother Theresa! 😀 I do like baseball … though I don’t follow it avidly. Sports, I think, should be a positive thing, should be about integrity and teamwork. A few years ago, I often attended my grandson’s little league games, and … I got so disgusted that I finally stopped going. The parents! The kids were great, they were out there trying their best, giving high fives even to members of the other team. But the parents were cussing at kids on the other team, cussing their own kids if they missed a ball or a pitch. One time a parent even went on the field, apparently intending to punch one of the coaches, but was stopped before he had the chance to. This, to me, is the antithesis of what sports, especially for little kids, is about. Sigh.

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  3. Yeah, I umpired a game one time at a little league girls softball game because the regular guy didn’t show up. And, well, my wife asked me to. Not a good experience. Yep…it’s the parents. They drove me crazy. Just let the kids play!!

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