A Tiger Can Change His Stripes

by Chris Stansbury

Good Sportsmanship. Phooey!!! There’s no way around it. In sports, there are people or teams you just hate. The New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, Notre Dame Football, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are just a few of the "HATED JUST BECAUSE" list. They are usually the team or person, at the top of their sport, your biggest rival or as the list implies... HATED JUST BECAUSE. Very rarely do sports fans ever break away from that belief. You won’t see a Redskins fans suddenly pull for the Cowboys. Or a Red Sox fan root the pin stripes to a title. It just doesn’t happen.
Until now. I can’t seem to hate Tiger Woods. I’m a Redskins fan, I have no problem hating Dallas. But I can’t hate Tiger. Tiger’s first ten years were incredible. He’s the best front runner in sports history. 12-for-12 when leading a major going into the final round. That’s sick. He now stands at 51 PGA Tour wins and chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors, which is only a matter of time.
He’s the got a bouncer for a caddie (Steve Williams). By the way, can you name anyone else’s caddie on tour? He’s got the beautiful Swedish wife. He’s been the top ranked golfer in the world for years. But when Earl Woods, Tiger’s mentor, coach and beloved father died this past spring, we all saw a crack in the armor. Tiger missed a cut, previously unheard of in about five years and it was the US Open.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." I have great respect for people who can circle the wagons, re-group and come out fighting better and harder than before. Since missing the US Open cut, Tiger circled the wagons and came out in his next four tournaments: 2nd place (Western Open), 1st place (British Open), 1st place (Buick Open) and 1st place (PGA Championship). WOW!!!
Now after he wins, he shows emotion. Smiles, hugs, and tears. He’s making jokes at press conferences. That’s what I think I wanted to see from him all along. Personality. Let the person out. I can relate to a person overcoming tough times or just enjoying life. I can root for that person.
Tiger is a Freak. Believe me when I say that is a compliment. And he is a Freak that sports fans should be lucky enough to watch in our lifetime. I am not ready to be his fan club president, but I have changed my stripes and proud to say I am a Tiger Woods Fan.

Chris Stansbury