Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Woods: Many lessons can be learned from the beauty sports bring

Tiger Woods won his 14th major championship by capturing the US Open played in LaJolla, California. Tiger out-dueled 45 year old journeyman Rocco Mediate Monday in a sudden-death playoff that was for the ages. I’m glad I didn’t miss the climax. I rearranged my schedule to watch the final few holes at the gym as I worked out.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves sports more than I. I have an intense relationship with the institution for many reasons. Its’ taught me a lot about life. Sports have allowed me to do things I never dreamed. I’ve learned many valuable lessons over the years from sports. Sports have given me analogies I often use to simplify the various intricacies in everyday life: it’s helped shape the unique perspective I have. I guess that’s why I’ve written about, studied, and played sports most of my life.

I love sports.

There were many story lines with Tiger’s latest triumph. For one, he was clearly injured. Tiger hadn’t played a tournament since The Masters in April yet he was able to draw on past glory, talent, and resolve to win the toughest tournament in golf. The great ones find a way to get it done.

Let’s not forget Rocco. He had to qualify to even get into the tournament. He’s ranked 158th in the world in the world, never won a major championship, and is on the last legs of his career. Despite the latter he nearly beat the best in the world. Rocco would’ve been the oldest man to win the US Open had he held on. He took it far as he could before the inevitable occurred.

Give him credit: Rocco wouldn’t go away. He persisted until the end. Rocco’s performance shows it’s never too late to live your dreams.

As I was pedaling away on a bicycle I was glued to the TV. As Tiger was putting the final nail in Rocco’s coffin I engaged in conversation with an elderly couple about Tiger’s game. College students riding next me ceased their workouts. We collectively spoke about what was unfolding. Even the employees stopped working to join in as Tiger did this thing. We were all strangers yet Tiger’s dominance and the beauty of sports brought us together.

For a brief moment whatever preconceptions and stereotypes we may have had were checked at the door. For the next twenty minutes strangers had become united fans. No one was thinking about the horrid economy, the bad day at work, Obama vs. McCain, or even working out: we all focused on what temporarily brought us together.

Tiger Woods.

We all on varying levels shared a liking of golf and Tiger: we shared a respect for the history unfolding before our eyes. Still pedaling and looking beyond the obvious I thought to myself, “How can we extend this feeling of togetherness throughout society? How can we get this cohesiveness in your homes, the workplace, but more importantly in our hearts we are sharing now?”

Tiger can help out. I’ve been critical of Tiger not taking stands and speaking out on controversial issues. The latest was in January when golf analyst Kelly Tilghman suggested Tiger be taken in a back alley and “lynched” to curtail his dominance. Tiger was silent.

My stance has not changed-I believe he needs to step up off the course as well as on it.

But I know Tiger is special. In some ways he’s bigger than golf. The type of difference he can make if he said anything about an issue would make changes around the world. What if Tiger gave a five minute press conference on the importance of family and togetherness? Just because it’s Tiger people would find a way to incorporate his words in their lives.

God gives few such glory and acclaim Tiger now enjoys. At the moment he’s using it to chase Jack Nicklaus and be hailed as the greatest golfer of all time. To me the question is should it be about Jack Nicklaus and making history: or using God’s talent to do his real work?

I guess that’s Tiger’s choice to make.

Watching Tiger and Rocco ignited the type of euphoria and beauty not readily accessed and available in most segments of society. We all can learn valuable lessons from the beauty of sports. The institution allows us to temporarily suspend our negativity and root together for a common cause irrespective of color, age, and gender.

Perhaps if we used sports as a gauge we could learn more about ourselves and in turn make society better.

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