Being the die hard sports fan that I am, I still allow myself time to watch other things on television. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’”,”‘Family Guy”, “Law and Order” and of course “Looney Tunes”. My favorite part about the “Looney Tunes” is when Wile E. Coyote always tries to capture the Roadrunner. As hard as he tries, he just isn’t able to get him. You know the look, that the Coyote gets on his face when he thinks of a new plan? That “light bulb turning on” face? Well, I had myself a Wile E. Coyote moment last night while watching Sportscenter. I usually have set what I plan to write about a few days beforehand, but sometimes, you see something and an idea pops right into your head. My moment came when I saw that Tiger Woods was eliminated in the first round of the WGC – Accenture Match Play event.
Usually I write about the four major sports and I am more of a fan of them. However, I do enjoy watching and playing golf. In each sport, everyone has their favorite and least favorite team and player and we enjoy when they lose. The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakes, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Cowboys are all teams I get a pleasure of watching them fail. In the golf world, that person I like to see lose is Tiger Woods. It wasn’t the Thanksgiving of 2009 events and the countless number of mistresses that made me despise Woods, those only added fuel to the fire. I enjoyed Woods when he turned pro in 1996. He had that big smile and was as talented of a golfer that I had seen at such a young age. Once he became the face of the sport however, I started looking down on Tiger. He disrespected golf with his sore sportsmanship and yelling at the fans. Pounding his club into the ground and swearing on live television made is seem like we were at the live taping of “Happy Gilmore”.
Tiger is one of the last athletes that we would have suspected to be messing around behind his wife’s back. He seemed like he had it all with Elin and their children, but eventually, his dark secret was let out. Unlike Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick, Tiger has yet to rebound from his off the course issues and I thought I loved seeing him lose his winning ways. Then, it hit me. Look at what Tiger Woods did for his sport. Prior to Woods pro debut, the average winnings for a PGA Tour event were $600,ooo. Fast forward to 2006 and the average rose to $9.9 Million. According to the same study conducted, there were 9 players who earned a million dollars in 1996, the year that Woods turned pro. In 2006, there were 93 golfers who broke the million-dollar mark. The point being, that Tiger Woods revolutionized the sport of golf and made people want to watch it. How can we cheer against a man who has the sport on his back? If he can’t turn it around, what will happen to the game?
Woods situation reminds me a lot of Sidney Crosby’s in hockey. The NHL was in a rough state when Crosby was selected in the 2005 draft and it looked for awhile that there wasn’t going to be a league. It wasn’t the most popular sport and it needed something to get the ratings up. Along side Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Crosby became the face of the league. Although Ovechkin is important to this age of the NHL, Crosby has more pressure on him to succeed. He is the class-act superstar that this league has needed since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux decided to hang up the skates. With Sid on the shelf, maybe for the rest of the year, should we be concerned for the NHL?
It’s no secret that cities around the country aren’t a big fan of Crosby. They call him a cry baby and can’t stand him, mainly because he is the best player in hockey. We have seen players like Eric Lindros and Pat Lafontaine retire prematurely due to complications with concussions and Marc Savard from the Boston Bruins miss the majority of the past two seasons from blows to the head as well. I’m not saying that Crosby will be in this group, but what if the worst case situation happens and his current concussion lingers throughout his career? As with Woods, whether you like Crosby or not, he’s a guy that any hockey fan needs to pull for to have the league reach it’s full potential. We’ve seen in recent years, thanks to players like Crosby, Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos and others, the popularity of the league sore. Even during Crosby’s absence, the excitement around the Penguins is still there, but there has been a noticeable drop off. Whether you want to categorize those fans as bandwagon or not, any support is great support for the NHL.
No matter what we feel about players like Woods, Crosby or Ovechkin, the fact is, that we need them for hockey and golf for that matter, to continue evolving in our society. Cheer against them if you wish, but appreciate the mass appeal that they bring to their sport and how important they are to the product that we take for granted everyday.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com