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The Last Repository of Class in Professional Sports

16 June 2008

OK, let’s stipulate:  no professional sport is perfect, and no professional athlete is perfect.

Glad that’s out of the way.

Later today Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods will square off in an 18-hole playoff for the U. S. Open men’s title.  Mediate is a really good golfer with a few pelts on the wall; he is not intimidated by Tiger, but his comments to the media, as well as his history generally, reveal a man who is humble, joyous, grateful to be where he is and grateful for the opportunity to share the stage with Tiger.

For his part, Tiger is not the one making a big deal of his (excruciatingly?) painful left knee; he is aggressive on the course, but he also seems to be pretty humble.  Anyone who loves his mom and late father the way Tiger does…well, there’s a lot to be said for that.  I’m a big fan of Tiger Woods.  

I was not previously a fan of Rocco Mediate, but that’s just because he flies under the radar and is not spectacular.  I am a fan now.

I know that there must be a lot of pressure on professional athletes and their sponsors to be spectacular and edgy and all that stuff.  I know there is a lot of pressure to maintain some sort of public image that translates into $$.  But so far, the sport of golf has resisted that pressure with a brand of conservatism that really pleases me.  Tiger respects the game and its history and its heroes.  Listen to folks like Davis Love, Freddie Couples, Ernie Els…they are heirs of a great heritage, and they know it, and they respect it.

So I look forward to what is going to come out of today’s playoff.  If Mediate wins, what a wonderful thing for his career…it won’t be long until he’ll be eligible for the Seniors tour, and he’ll have a major championship.  No doubt he will be gracious in victory.

If Tiger wins #14 (who can believe that!), he will also be gracious in victory.

And I expect that either of them will be gracious in defeat, yielding the spotlight to the other.

I wish it would rub off on Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Allen Iverson, Pacman Jones…


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