For once in my life,
I can honestly say I know what Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon are feeling.
First, I will tell you that when I was a college student at East
Carolina in 1991, working with Sports Information at baseball, football
and basketball games and also interning with Brian Bailey at WNCT-TV, I
had one thought in my clueless, little mind. I wanted to be a
sportscaster on ESPN. After seven years on TV, I had made it to a
top 30 television market. Then, I had my first son. And
From the time my wife and I brought Zach home from the hospital, I
could feel priorities change. It was just a few months later
during contract talks that I decided to get out of the business I loved
and be there for my family, who I love more.
Both Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon will have their lives completely
turned upside down in the weeks to come. Tiger became a father
for the first time to daughter Sam one day after the U-S Open
ended. Thank goodness he didn't make it to a Monday
playoff. Jeff Gordon's wife goes to the doctor Tuesday afternoon
to see if inducing labor to deliver his first child, a daughter is
necessary or take the chance of her arrival while he is on the track in
Woods has won 12 major golf tournaments and is the undisputable best
golfer in the word. Gordon holds four NEXTEL Cup championships
and is chasing number five from the top of the pack. Tiger has
already said he doesn't know when his next event will be. Quite
possibly, he will only play in majors for the rest of the year.
If Jeff's daughter comes into the world on Saturday, he has said he
will skip this weekend's race in Sonoma. He has five wins there
and oh yeah, he's the points leader, but it's the right decision.
Remember back to when Phil Mickelson played in the 1999 US Open at
Pinehurst. He finished second to the late-Payne Stewart by one
shot and played with a pager on his belt in case his wife Amy went into
labor with their first child. At that time, Phil said if he got
buzzed, leading or not, he would walk off the course. Again, the
And this is just the beginning for Woods and Gordon. As their
girls grow up, they will want to be there for school plays, dance
recitals, or knowing the stock these girls are coming from, a golf
tournament or car race.
I will say this. I expect both to remain at the top of their
sports, plus affording a nanny won't be a problem. However, Tiger
will probably stop traveling all over the world for tournaments and
reduce his already low number of PGA tournaments played to even
less. Jeff will still run 36 races a year, but will he think
twice before rubbing fenders at 200 miles per hour?
These guys are no stranger to firsts. First in money list, first in
points, etc. But no golf tournament or race will compete with
their daughters' first smile, first step, or first word. That is
unless they aren't there to see it.
I made the right choices for my family and I am right here back where I
belong at East Carolina with my wife and now two boys. And
I fully expect Woods and Gordon to make decisions in the best interest
for the families, even if it isn't in the best interest of their sports