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George Ferguson Column: Tiger shows us that time catches us all

From the Fringe...


August 6, 2014

When it comes to the career of Tiger Woods, there are many opinions out there. Especially in the last five or six years, it seems golf fans, and the general public are divided on how they feel about Tiger.

It’s become quite clear, you either love him or you hate him, and many, many people seem to love to hate on him.

However, over the span of Tiger’s career, he’s taught us all a lot of lessons. Hard work pays off, anyone can be anything they want to be. Any star athlete can fall from grace as quickly as they got there, and so on.

Now, in the summer of 2014, Tiger is teaching us all another valuable lesson, and I’m certainly taking notice.

Tiger is teaching us that we’re all human after all. Tiger is teaching us that our bodies do break down, whether we’re athletic, whether we’re construction workers or whether we’re sitting in an air-conditioned office each and every day, our bodies just won’t stay the same forever.

Tiger and I are the same age, and while we’re by no means on the same athletic plane, we seem to be experiencing some of the same things. I have had a lot of lower back trouble the last couple years, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The same is obviously happening to Tiger, though my lower back trouble isn’t costing me millions of dollars on the golf course, or fame and fortune. And my lower back trouble, and all of the other aches and pains I feel every day aren’t from being one of the greatest professional athletes in the world. No, that distinction, and the injuries that come with it, belong to Tiger and men and women like him.

No, my aches and pains come from playing and coaching tennis. They come from trying to do more on the tennis court than my body wants me to at this age. The injuries I’ve sustained from the game of tennis, and maybe a little golf, too, are telling me I can’t do exactly what I want to.

The problem is, I’m not trying to hear that.

And I don’t think that Tiger is trying to hear it either

After withdrawing from the WGC-Bridgestone last week, a tournament he’s won eight times, it’s clear that Tiger’s supposedly repaired back isn’t quite repaired after all. And it’s likely that if Tiger announces today that he won’t play at this week’s PGA Championship, he’ll certainly miss the rest of the 2014 season.

And that’s a shame because for all of Tiger’s greatness, he sure has missed a lot of gold during what is supposed to be the prime of his life. And that’s likely due to the fact that Tiger doesn’t want to listen to his body either. After all, this is the guy who played, and won the U.S. Open on a torn ACL and a broken fibula. Clearly, Tiger is too competitive to listen.

And that’s the real moral of this latest Tiger saga. Actually, the moral is two-fold.

The first is, we should all listen to our bodies and what they’re telling us more often. Whether you’re a high school basketball player or a professional golfer, your body will sustain injuries, your body will tell you to stop hurting it. That’s what pain is. Young or old, amateur or professional, we all need to listen to our bodies more and take care of the things that go wrong with them.

The second moral is, change, athletically is inevitable. It happened to Michael Jordan, it happened to the great Cal Ripken, who started more baseball games than anyone in professional baseball history, and it’s happening now to Tiger Woods, who once seemed like he was going to win every golf tournament he entered.

In the world of sports, in athletics, we’re all vulnerable. We’re all susceptible to injury, and we’re all going to age. That doesn’t mean we should stop playing the sports we love. Sports are great, sports are healthy and if you’re like me, sports are a way of life.

But, and the young athletes of Havre should know this now, we will not be able to play sports in the manner we’re accustomed to forever. The time will come when we all have to face the music and admit, we can’t quite do it the way we used to, whether that’s from age, injuries or a combination of both.

I’m learning that the hard way every time I step on the tennis court these days.

So, another moral from the latest Tiger Woods’ saga is, don’t take your youth, your health or your chance to compete in athletics at the highest level for granted. Don’t waste a single day, because you never know when it’s going to change, or when it’s going to be over for good.

As a Tiger Woods fan, I’m pretty nervous that his career, while likely not over, will never be the same again. It’s not out of the question that he never wins another major golf tournament again. After all, he’s lost another season, and he isn’t getting any younger.

Change is inevitable. It’s inevitable in sports, it’s inevitable in our bodies and in our age. It happens and there’s no stopping that. And while many of you might be at the top of your game in the sport you’re in right now, just look at what’s happening to Tiger Woods. No one was more at the top of his game than he was not so long ago. But he’s not there anymore.

Once again, love him or hate him, Tiger is teaching us all a valuable lesson.


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