Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Knock" on Woods? "Tiger's" a Daddy!

Congratulations to Tiger Woods, who, a day after Father's Day (and less than twenty-four hours after finishing in a 2nd-place tie at the 2007 U.S. Open) became a father himself for the first time. "Elin and I are delighted to announce the birth of our daughter, Sam Alexis Woods," Tiger proclaimed on his website. "Both Elin and Sam are doing well and resting peacefully. We want to thank our doctors and the hospital staff ... and everyone for their well wishes. This is truly a special time in our lives ..."

But alas, a mere twenty-four hours after that statement, we already have the Chicago Tribune's merciless sportswriter Rick Morrissey questioning Woods' ability to be a good dad. "It's almost impossible to be a great professional athlete and a great father," wrote Morrissey, Wednesday, after his Monday column had clubbed Tiger for not coming from behind to win at Oakmont, Woods' 2nd 2nd-place Major finish in a row. "The sacrifice it takes to stay near the top in sports ... leaves little room for anything else."

Obviously Morrissey is stating nothing novel, although most writers would at least save the column until the babe (or in Tiger's case "little cub") was out of the hospital. Yes, it is true that "young kids especially need their dads around," and that part will be difficult for Tiger, who is forced to be on the road more than half of the year. Difficult, but not impossible, at least no more so than winning twelve Majors in less than ten seasons ...

If there is any real news here, it's that being a "great father" is hard for any man. If Morrissey criticizes Tiger for having too much money and not enough time to be a dynamite dad, he would probably criticize me for having too much time and not enough money. As far as sports goes, the Royals' Mike Sweeney and former Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz are testimony enough that good parents can be had on the coach's/athlete's brutal schedule. True, Holtz sometimes doubted his ability; he often tells the story of when he finally took the kids on a family vacation only to be pulled over by police because his children had posted a big "Help! We're being kidnapped!" sign in the station wagon's back window. Kidding aside, the way his children have grown into faith-filled adults is testimony it all worked out. True, the one thing Mike and Lou possess that Tiger doesn't is a strong belief in the One True Church. Personally, while I firmly believe that nothing is impossible with God, I often wonder how anything as challenging as fatherhood is possible without Him.

"All I know is that Elin and I are excited, and that this is far more important than any game of golf," the world's #1 player said recently. "This is an opportunity to raise our first child, and we are really looking forward to it." Tiger, for all his wealth and fame is trying to do the right thing ... and God, whether Tiger and Elin realize it, is trying His best to help. Several golf writers have noted that Tiger, who finished 2nd at this year's Open and Phil Mickelson, who was the U.S. Open's runner-up in 2006, both became fathers the day after the tournament. But no one seemed to realize that if Tiger did birdie one of Oakmont's tortuous final holes to move into a tie for first, Woods would have put himself in an 18-hole playoff Monday—where, win or lose, he would have missed the birth of Sam Alexis. And that's something money can't buy.

Tiger, I'm not sure if losing to an "Angel" was an omen (do cigarette-smoking angels, like Angel Cabrera, count?) but I do know this. The dedication, determination and discipline you show on the golf course is a gift from God, and it has inspired millions along the way. And I pray that one day you can also share this with your kids, so that the hugs they receive from you after winning (or losing) the future Opens are as genuine as the ones your father once had for you.

As for that super-fitted shirt ... God prefers the classic red with collar. In other words, I'm thinking maybe there was another reason God sent the "Angel" down to defeat you last Sunday.

5 comments :

Pristinus Sapienter said...

I am reminded of two other athletes. The first, the golf great Jack Nicklaus, has always been regarded as a fine father. If Tiger needs some tips, he has access to one fine gent of a pro.

The other is Charles Barkley, who as an all-star Phoenix Sun was confronted by a young hot-shot version of the likes of Morrissey. The sportswriter asked some question about how profound it could get in basketball. Barkley turned to him and noted that what he did on the basketball court was a game - whatever else it was, it was mostly just a game. Barkley purposefully noted that he had more important factors in his life at home - most especially, his kids.

Morrissey should be to journalism what Woods, Nicklaus and Barkley have been to their sports, and he will grow out of the yellow-press tinges now coming on in journals due to dropping circulations.

JimAroo said...

It isn't an iron clad guarantee but having a great dad whom you respect and cherish will go a long way to making anyone a fine father. Tiger scores high in this category since his father was a good man and a loving father.

I will do my part to get Tiger in the church. On my way to Mass everyday, I pass the golf course on which he learned to play. Starting tomorrow, I will make a nine hole novena to Our Lady of the Fairways for his intentions!

MLizzy said...

Our Lady of the Fairways ... LOVE it ... hope it works!

Tom O'Toole said...

Thanks Jim ... Tiger in the Church would be HUGE. Until then, we can hope and pray he still hits the ball AND cares for his daughter in the manner of a champion.

Tom O'Toole said...

Pristinus - You are right. It was not only moving to see Jack come from behind at age 46 to win his last Masters, but to see his son Gary caddying for him then. As for Barkley, he's come a long way from his "I'm not a role model" days ...