Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sports of Hate or Why I don't root for Tiger Woods

As I've said before on this blog, for me sports is almost as much about who I hate as to who I love. In fact, my love for my teams causes me to hate with a passion teams that drive me crazy. Because I love the Cowboys, I hate the Giants, Eagles, Redskins, 49ers, etc. I am much more of a fan of my teams than I am a lover of sports. This brings me to Tiger Woods.

I am not a big golf fan. I have a set of golf clubs and I fool around with some friends every once in a while, though I haven't played this summer. For many of my friends and lots of people on sports talk radio, the golf majors are appointment television. Actually, it would be more correct to say that the majors are appointment television if Tiger is in contention on the last day. For me, golf is switch off no matter what the situation. I listen to coverage, though hardly ever watch it on TV hoping that Tiger is loosing or struggling.

As the US Open played out yesterday, I heard several sports talk radio guys say something along the lines of, "If you're a sports fan, you have to root for Tiger" or "How can anyone root against Tiger?" And I thought, it's pretty easy. For me, Tiger represents almost everything that is wrong with sports. I say almost everything because there is one thing that he is an example of everything good about sports. For an immensely talented individual, he is very much a grinder. For most pro athletes if they don't have it, they'll say, it's not my day, go through the motions, and be satisfied with that. Tiger works his butt off on the course and it's not satisfied with anything less that being champion. That's the epitome of what it means to compete.

Now, the wrong things about Tiger and how it relates to my hatred of other things in sports:

1) The media beats everyone upside the head with Tiger. The only way they'll pay attention to golf is if he plays. He is ubiquitous on commercials- the Gatorade commercial of him on the moon drives me crazy for some reason. He almost as bad as Jordon in that they won't turn down an opportunity to sell himself for a few bucks. I can't listen to sports talk radio after a major because they bow down at the altar of Tiger. In other sports, the media takes a team or player and just beats them to death as if the only teams that matter exist in the Northeast or on the West coast. In baseball, it's minutia of the Yankees and the Red Sox and if the Cubs are even in the zip code of contention then we are inundated with articles of what those teams need to do in order to win the whole thing and what kind of problems they have and what their blowhard owners have to say about anything. I can't watch ESPN baseball tonight because the biggest question is always what is happening with those teams. If Joba Chamberlain was a Colorado Rockie (is this right? Should it Rocky?), we would have no idea who he was and not have five million article written as to whether or not he should start or relieve. Of course as teams fall out of contention, the question becomes can any of their players help the Red Sox or Yankees or Cubs or Dodgers achieve the greatness that is preordained for them? The only media darling I like the Cowboys. If I wasn't from Dallas and therefore a licenced Cowboy fan, they would be as bad or worse than the Yankees. I accept this level of hypocrisy.

2. I'm sorry, it's not fun to watch the same guy win all the time. It's really boring. The question yesterday was not if Tiger was going to win, but how. And sure enough, he choked away a three shot lead, fell behind, made a birdie put to tie, and won on the sudden death playoff hole. Technically exciting, but it's like we all knew the ending we just wanted to see how he was going to pull it off. It's Revenge of the Sith all over again. We know Anakin becomes Darth Vader we just didn't know how and hopefully they'll give us a little drama for good measure. When the Lakers and the Celtics made the finals this year, it wasn't fun, it was expected. And of course the media just drooled all over themselves as two marquee teams were in the playoffs. Too bad the NBA sucks. The NBA where boring happenings.

3. Can anybody win alot and appear to enjoy it less? Maybe Bill Belicick. Sure he cusses and throws his clubs when he messes up and pumps his fist when he wins, so obviously he cares, but he's basically one of the guys down at the municipal course who is better than everybody else but doesn't have fun doing it.

At the end of the day, I don't care about golf, but when I pay attention, I hope Tiger loses. But if Tiger's not there, I care about it even less! So maybe their diabolical plan has succeeded. Imagine what happens to golf if this knee injury is really bad and he doesn't play in the next two majors? If a golf tournament happens and Tiger isn't there to play it, does it really happen?

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