By Josh Hoffman
By now you’ve probably heard about his single-car accident during the wee hours of the night following Thanksgiving, the affairs that keep surfacing like grass after it’s been fertilized and the latest of all, his indefinite hiatus from the PGA Tour.
Yeah, that’s right, Tiger Woods is taking an indefinite hiatus from professional golf, the sport that paved the way for him to become the overwhelmingly-lucrative athlete he is today.
Prior to his decision to take a leave of absence, I really could care less about this story. Heck, people get in single-car accidents and have affairs all the time – big deal. But then Woods announced his sabbatical from golf, and suddenly I care more about this story than I do about getting a much-needed haircut.
I’ve never been one to judge public figures as people because, just like you and I, they’re not perfect. Do I agree with some of their decisions? Of course not, but I understand their imperfections, just like I understand my mother’s questionable and at times nerve-racking driving. After all, she’s a Goff Girl (translation: my mother and her sister, both of whom bear the maiden name Goff, are notorious for being subpar drivers). Instead, I judge public figures on why they’re in the limelight. In this case, Woods is a public figure because he’s the greatest golfer – and arguably athlete – on Earth. Thus, I judge him on what he does with a golf club, not what he does with his you-know-what.
Now Woods won’t be playing on the PGA Tour anytime soon, and that’s what bothers me.
It bothers me that Woods, amid his “transgressions” and “infidelity,” seemingly never took the time to realize how he became the world’s first billion-dollar athlete, how he had his own type of Gatorade – you know, the most recognized drink in all of sports – and how he worked his way into the “Greatest Athlete of All-Time” conversation. But most importantly, Woods seemingly never took the time to realize the crater-like impact he has on the game of golf.
Other great players in other professional sports have come and gone, and the transition away from those players has been rather seamless. For instance, the NBA continues to thrive even after Michael Jordan’s two retirements. But without Woods, professional golf merely returns to the group of irrelevant sports, which includes Canadian football, bog snorkeling and toe wrestling. (Yes, bog snorkeling and toe wrestling are actual sports.)
Woods was once the picture-perfect athlete: the ultimate competitor, a philanthropist (see: the Tiger Woods Foundation) and a family man whose relationships with his parents, especially the one he had with father, are well-documented. He dominated golf so much that, when he didn’t play on the PGA Tour, TV ratings fell 50 percent.
Professional golf will surely suffer, but at least the drop-off is mutual, because Tiger Woods is half the man he used to be.
Josh Hoffman is a college junior working to become a sports journalist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written by Josh Hoffman