Friday, November 27, 2009

Lucky Stripes

Sometimes we get lucky. Like the time I accidentally put a $50 chip on 17 while playing roulette, and when that little white ball settled on my number, the dealer stood up, pointed at me, and yelled "DUDE!!!". Or the numerous times I've done karaoke and nobody had a video camera rolling. Luck happens even to the unluckiest of people.

There's a lot of luck in sports, but mostly it's in the form of tipped passes and glaring lights blinding Matt Holiday. Real luck - like Texas, Florida or Alabama losing so we can see the BCS screw over two more teams, or Andre Agassi winning that final US Open - rarely happens. But we lucked out in a huge way. This Thanksgiving weekend I give thanks to one thing: that Tiger Woods crashed his car on a Friday.

Because if the world's #1 golfer, who is as clean as John Daly is dirty, would've been in an accident on Monday, ESPN would be as unwatchable as the week following the World Series. Skip Bayless would assure you that this is a sign that Woods' head isn't in the game. Jay Mariotti would have barked that we should have seen this coming. Tony Kornheiser would have shown remorse, and Michael Wilbon, solemnly, would have said, "Yeah, Tony".

But it didn't happen that way. Tiger Woods crashed his car, and then was removed from the car by his wife after she smashed the window with a golf club, on a Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. Most sports personalities had taken their vacations. People weren't at work to be bored and sift through all the headlines. By Monday, the story will seem like a year old, and more than likely will not carry any weight. Thank God.

This is one of those unfortunate circumstances that happens to all people. It's the ugly side of life. Whether Woods was drunk or if there was some kind of domestic dispute can be left up to imagination, but what is certain is that the general public does not want a hero like Tiger Woods to have these things occurring in his life. It's the kind of blind faith that kept us from realizing Brett Favre was an egomaniac or that Michael Jordan is perhaps the meanest son of a bitch who has ever lived.

The reason Woods' car crash disturbed people at first glance was the same reason for the media uproar about Michael Phelps' pot use; we want to believe that given the same opportunities and advances that our athletic heroes have had, we would be mistake-free.

Of course, that's impossible. But ask a coworker sometime about their plans if they won the lottery. You always hear the same thing: take care of family and friends, buy a house, invest, etc. These are mature responses. You never hear someone say "I'm going to the strip club and making it rain!" or "I'm going to Vegas and gonna blow 100 Gs!" But that's what we would really do. We would celebrate and flaunt our newly given power, for no other reason that we can.

So when we hear of professional athletes making mistakes, we get angry because we feel that given the same life, we could do better. But I suggest that most of us could never be the stand-up citizen that Tiger Woods is if given his power. That makes his one mistake that much more impressive.

We all could be heroes, except for that one day.


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