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Tiger's tussle with unrealistic expectations

For guys essentially paid to watch stuff as closely as possible and then report on what they’ve just seen, sportswriters can be a remarkably myopic group on occasion. Examples are fairly easy to come by, but rarely as stunning as the recent blather offered by the Ham Sandwich Brigade as Tiger Woods continued along an almost unprecedented winning streak that stretched all the way to last fall.

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As Tiger was running his winning streak to seven events worldwide, the sportswriters would occasionally allow themselves to muse about the possibility of Tiger turning in an undefeated season. Awww, geez, guys!

I understand the underlying circumstances that make otherwise competent and rational people write silly things, but to even fantasize about something like that reflects pretty poorly on the writer, because it suggests he’s woefully unfamiliar with the elemental components of the game itself.
(Tiger Woods artwork at right by Michael Joseph.)

Even when Tiger Woods has been at his best (which we may well be witnessing at this moment), it’s still just goofy to suggest that anyone could win every tournament that they played in over the course of a whole season. I would contend that there has never been another player who dominated his sport as profoundly as Tiger has, but there are simply too many variables in the sport for a perfect season to be something that’s rationally considered.

A twig, a bad bounce, the wind, a divot, the click of a camera at the wrong time, indigestion, you name it: even a player as dominant as Tiger has to face so many of these that talk of perfection is nutty. It may be flattering, but I’d be more inclined to think it does a disservice to the player, because it takes what would have already been probably unrealistic expectations and moves them up several notches to absurd and beyond.

And at the same time that the golf scribes were falling all over themselves in cannonizing Woods, he was then roundly excoriated because he cussed out a photographer who clicked in the middle of his downswing. I know, I know, the fact that Tiger hauls in $100 million or so a year makes the public apply a higher standard, but if you think about it, it’s pretty unfair. We applaud Woods on the one hand because of his almost cosmic focus and intensity, then rush to spank him when those very same traits occasionally spill over when things don’t go his way.

I certainly understand a parent’s discomfort if Tiger says naughty words that could rattle the youth of America, but just as certainly I understand the sacrosanct and symbiotic relationship between profanity and the game of golf.

Of course, I myself have never actually had to resort to cussing on the course. And I never lie, either.

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