Tiger Woods Just Gave Us the Feel-Good Sports Story of the Century (I’m Not Kidding)


There’s an old maxim I coined a decade or so ago known as “the Nancy Grace Rule” of sports tales: The extra a sports activities story is mentioned on cable news, the much fewer sports enthusiasts can stand to listen approximately it. Once the tale is picked up and signal boosted by way of outlets that are not regarded for overlaying sports activities — like, um, New York Magazine — sports fans have already moved on to something else and are desperate for the tale to move away. These memories are usually terrible, or in some way debatable: They can be of the grave outcome, just like the Penn State scandal, or they can be stupid and unnecessary however compulsive and addictive, like Deflategate. The Nancy Grace Rule does no longer always mirror definitely on sports activities fans; the enormous exhaustion from having to completely reckon with the Colin Kaepernick story at the end brought about the NFL, essentially, getting away with blackballing him from the sport in an unofficial ban that now appears to be permanent. But you get it. Sports enthusiasts obsess, to their detriment, approximately sports activities all day, each day, their entire lives. Crossover stories can feel like your dad all of sudden discovering your favored band.
Rare is the fine story that crosses over into the Nancy Grace zone, a massive and glad sports activities incidence that the relaxation of the sector grasps as its very own. The most current one had probably been the Chicago Cubs prevailing the World Series in 2016, which broadly speaking manifested itself in innocent GIFs of Bill Murray and Eddie Vedder. But then got here this weekend:

Reportedly that’s the primary sports sport story ever at the front web page of The Wall Street Journal, even though, to be truthful, “Billionaire Honored at Exclusive Club With Only Three Female Members” is a story that could seem destined for the front web page of The Wall Street Journal whether it turned into about sports activities or now not. But greater to the factor: When Tiger Woods won the Masters this weekend, it right away has become the biggest sports tale of the 12 months and the only that everybody in your life, whether or not they care approximately golfing or no longer, had some kind of opinion approximately. It has become the closing Nancy Grace Rule tale, besides it turned into one we ought to all experience excellent about. Your dad gained’t prevent speak about it thru Thanksgiving.
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The tale is undeniably impossible to resist. Woods, who once seemed properly on his manner to breaking Jack Nicklaus’s all-time document for fundamental championships, famously had now not gained a prime golf match considering that his popularity exploded following the notorious Thanksgiving 2009 SUV crash, and within the wake of his arrest in 2017 for riding beneath the have an effect on (and an all-time “passage of time” mug shot), it was generally assumed, inclusive of with the aid of Tiger himself, that age, excess, and chronic lower back pain had finished him off as soon as and for all. But he rebounded in 2018 and commenced to appearance really like himself again, and Sunday, whilst he had an antique Tiger takeover on the again nine of the most famous golf route inside the world, the comeback became whole. Everybody should sense like it became 1999 again.
The lasting visual of Tiger’s victory is indicative of ways his charms have always been separate from his aloof, almost totally Nike-built public personality. After he gained, Tiger (and he’s of route “Tiger,” no longer “Woods”) hugged his 10-12 months-vintage son Charlie upon leaving the inexperienced. The parallel to Tiger hugging his late father Earl inside the identical spot 22 years ago, after winning his first Masters and emerging on the global level, turned into catnip for all of us watching, and, nearly without a doubt for the first time to your lifestyles, Tiger Woods, robotic, Trump pal, sex-dependancy-health center-attending, Dan Jenkins–hating, weird-ski-masks-sporting Tiger Woods, made you cry. But why, precisely, have been you crying? It’s not as if any of us recognize whatever about the relationship between Tiger Woods and his son; I’m not certain I even knew Tiger Woods had a son till he hugged him Sunday. The urge to cry upon seeing Tiger Woods hug his son after triumphing the Masters has nothing to do with the two of them, just like the leisure of Woods’s profession has by no means had an awful lot to do with him individually. Woods’s win didn’t remind people of why they liked Woods. It reminded them of themselves. The kids in 1997 looking Woods now have kids of their personal; perhaps, like Woods, the parent they shared that win with back then is not right here.
Athletes of such obvious international-straddling promise only come alongside so frequently, and whilst you see them whilst nonetheless young yourself, you could be fooled into thinking their reigns — like the fantasies of your own existence you’re hatching — can be everlasting. For a fan of the proper age, this will happen in spite of a simply pretty exact participant who happens to be the maximum exciting member of the nearby group. (You will by no means persuade me that 1993–97 Fighting Illini point guard Kiwane Garris isn’t one the ten most thrilling athletes in human history.) But Tiger turned into, as quickly as he arrived within the limelight, a star of a manifestly one of a kind category — and due to the fact he performed golf, perhaps the least “young guy’s game” of all of them, you can be forgiven for believing he’d win each event for a generation. Watching Woods Sunday, now balding and craggy however nonetheless with the flicker of who he as soon as became, brings the tale full circle. But it’s the target market’s story, not necessarily his.
It is likewise well worth noting that the redemption narrative is, as the whole lot else, something everyone’s piling on for their personal gain. There has been a lot “Tiger close up the haters!” celebrating inside the wake of his victory, without a good deal acknowledgment that, well, the ones celebrating had been the haters. The people embracing Tiger and claiming they believed him in all along are the equal ones giddily passing that mug shot around social media two years ago. His searching so ghastly in that photo reminded every person how antique we’d all gotten; his victory Sunday allowed us to pretend we all still have something left. (We have been more right the first time.) The tale is by no means about Tiger. It’s usually approximately what fanatics and media have collectively projected upon him.

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