I'm going to admit that I've been a Rick Reilly fan since I discovered Sports Illustrated as a kid. For all his "Reilly-ness", his stories always had my attention, and I thought his approach was certainly different.
I followed Reilly through SI, and now onto ESPN.com What I've noticed now is that a) I'm more cynical than ever b) Reilly is an old man with good ol' days syndrome or c) I'm easily irritated.
It's probably all three.
Anyway, his latest piece might have been one of the asinine things I've ever read.
"Tiger Woods has outgrown those Urkel glasses he had as a kid. Outgrown the crazy hair. Outgrown a body that was mostly neck.
When will he outgrow his temper?
The man is 33 years old, married, the father of two. He is paid nearly $100 million a year to be the representative for some monstrously huge companies, from Nike to Accenture. He is the world's most famous and beloved athlete.
And yet he spent most of his two days at Turnberry last week doing the Turn and Bury. He'd hit a bad shot, turn and bury his club into the ground in a fit. It was two days of Tiger Tantrums -- slamming his club, throwing his club and cursing his club. In front of a worldwide audience."
Let me get this straight. The guy is a corporate automaton who maintains a public presence the way Nike and IEG expect. He has achieved a role model status that not many (if any) have reached and does so, but we're going to get mad at him because he gets mad? On a golf course?
Look, I've played golf with hot heads and with serene people all the same, and every now and then, a curse word is released into the world. Apparently, that makes Rick Reilly cry.
"It's disrespectful to the game, disrespectful to those he plays with and disrespectful to the great players who built the game before him. Ever remember Jack Nicklaus doing it? Arnold Palmer? When Tom Watson was getting guillotined in that playoff to Stewart Cink, did you see him so much as spit? Only one great player ever threw clubs as a pro -- Bobby Jones -- and he stopped in his 20s when he realized how spoiled he looked."
Does that sell the game?
Make no mistake, Tiger is selling the PGA and himself. People don't want calm, cool and collected or else Tim Duncan would be more marketable and attractive than LeBron James and Kobe Bryant combined.
On the course is the one place that Tiger can be Tiger in the public eye. He can't do it at the podium, he can't do it in the interview chair, he can't do it walking the street with his family. On the golf course, he can be in the public eye as well as be what he is, the greatest golfer to play the game. If part of that means that Tiger shows emotion and releases a stream of curse words that kids probably hear on KISS FM anyway, then so be it. Why is it so bad that the world sees Tiger be upset when something goes wrong? Is that not better than us apologizing, giving him the shot back and saying "do it until your happy because everyone wins?" You know, follow the pussy-fication of America's youth that happens today?
Should Tiger be Happy Gilmore and launch clubs and beat the shit out of someone? No. Should he be allowed to show extreme displeasure when something goes awry that is completely his fault? Very honestly, yes. Golf etiquette and showing emotion can co-exist while keeping golf a "gentleman's game".
By the by, Rick...is saying golf is a gentleman's game versus the brats in the NBA, baseball and football a subtle way of you saying "golf doesn't like black people"? (Relax! I kid. I kid.)