Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Tiger Woods and I Are Not Alike

There are many ways that Tiger Woods and I are different. In addition to the obvious things like his being male and playing a lot of golf, I mean. After his US Open win last week, everyone kept talking about how he is an amazing sportsman, perhaps the greatest golfer ever, a spectacular athlete that plays through the pain and so on. It’s quite probable that he is all of those things. But I was struck more by how differently Tiger and I would have handled the same situation. Because, please believe me when I say that the minute I began to experience the pain of a torn ACL, I would not have gone on ahead and an played a total of 54 more holes of golf and walked that extra fifteen miles. Go ahead and call me a lazy, non-athletic, namby-pamby pouty pants in the comments if you wish. Please don’t get me started on the things I would not have done upon beginning to feel those first twinges of a tibial stress fracture. Too late: I would have withdrawn from the US Open before you could say “swing a metal stick at a ball.”

Instead, when I tore my ACL, I would have followed my usual “fairly significant physical injury” protocol. I would have thrown up. Next, I would have proceeded to my couch where I would have phoned my two-part orthopedic medical care team- my father-in-law, who fortunately for me, was thinking ahead to having a daughter-in-law with knee problems when he was 18 and decided that he wished to become a physician specializing in bones. And then my sister, Erin, a physical therapist, who will tell me that no matter how much better heat feels on my injury that I must instead ice it. Like Mr. Woods, there would be many decisions I would need to make over the next few days; however, none of mine would involve my continuing in a major. Could my parents or in-laws watch the girls while I received appropriate medical treatment? How could I convince E and L that just because they don’t like Mommy’s knee brace that they should not hit it as hard as possible with a book (this actually happened during the “knee incident of December 2007")? Should I take the narcotic pain medication left over from my c-section? (It was good medication. I probably would). I would need to assess with Rob how much he has left to write on the dissertation and try and make a convincing case for our getting cable television, since, obviously, I would need to lie around so much. But I really wouldn’t consider continuing my theoretically planned, twice weekly five mile walks with my friend Julia or any other of my normal workouts. All of which to say- I was duly impressed by Tiger Woods, let’s call it “endurance,” but, frankly, a little perplexed. I mean, if he had never won a major tournament and it was his big chance, if he needed the money to support his family, or if the other golfers had been making fun of him for his game or something- but really- just to drive home that he is the golfer who has dominated the sport since he first started golfing professionally at age 5? I just don’t get it.

I know I will probably get a little ugliness here from people like Phil, who are passionately committed to sports of any kind, whether they personally like those sports or not, you know, the sports-for-ESPNs sake sort of people. (Much as I have here at home, from Rob, who just looks at me incredulously and says something like “and that is why you are a therapist and do not play for the PGA)” One of my more memorable community group dinners in Atlanta was a discussion of how collegiate sports are money makers for universities (Rob and Phil’s position), as well as being fascinating in their own right, especially Razorback and Gamecock sporting events-have I mentioned Rob being a Hog’s fan here before? My position (and the fact that Rhianna and Christy are scratching there heads attempting to remember this at all is emblematic of how they totally didn’t come to my aid in this discussion) is that it doesn’t seem fair to give scholarships to athletes at an academic institution when there might be people who would benefit from a scholarship to study. And it seems suspect that as much money is spent on sports complexes, arenas, and all of that as appears to be spent on all of the actual academic workings of the Division I schools. Please understand that 1.) I was only arguing this not because I believed it, but because I had just had an agonizing night the night before with Rob sighing a lot while I was trying to sleep because someone who had committed to play for Arkansas had changed his (presumably) mind about playing football and was probably going someplace like Alabama, which is what would frustrate Rob the most, I think (in fairness to Rob, he only laid awake at night worrying about this BEFORE we had children. Now he is too tired.) and 2.) I have seem the ads before every major college football game that I have seen over the past 10 years that there are something like 600 million NCAA athletes and 590 million of them will be going pro in something else. Sometimes it’s just satisfying to see committed fans of college athletics look stunned at the lack of comprehension of the importance of football/basketball/golf.

And I could discuss golf as a professional sport here also. Again, I completely get that you must, for the most part, be able to walk a fair distance and move your arms in a swinging motion and that not everyone is able to do this, I just feel like it’s not the most “athletic” of all of the sporting events. I’m just saying that, say, for example, soccer players, probably wouldn’t play as well if they were overweight or couldn’t run consistently for 45 minutes. Whereas you don’t look at the guys on the PGA tour (I’m generalizing- in the interest of full disclosure I only know a few of the major players and did not pull up pictures and information about the physical fitness of any of these people). But John Daly and Phil Mickelson aren’t people that you look at and think “Man, I wish I was in as good a shape as that guy.” Although, in my post baby having days, I am in no way suggesting that I am in better shape than they are. So while I’m not saying my official position is that golf is not a sport, I am saying that we should probably sit down and discuss this issue while PGA players and college basketball players run sprints and just see. If all of this enrages you, please look at these calming pictures of my children:

L. having a swing in our backyard one Sunday:

E. having a pre-church camel ride last weekend: