Are Athletes Obligated To Show Us Attention?
Any of you that watch ESPN or listen to ESPN Radio are most likely aware of who Colin Cowherd is. For those of you who don't, let me just say he's an outspoken, self absorbed individual who doesn't mind taking jabs at people and letting his opinions be known. Don't get me wrong, I agree with quite a bit of the discussions he has on his program, but today he was way off base in my opinion.
His discussion began in reference to Tiger Woods not being loved by fans anymore. Now I agree with him on this point; Tiger was never really a loveable guy. He's a machine that shows very little emotion during pre and post game interviews, and he just goes about his business. He's the complete opposite of Lefty Mick. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tiger's personal issues outside of golf, they have been spilling out into the media over the past year. He's getting past the adultery and the divorce, which is what it is. People make mistakes and that's life. The thing that I don't like about Tiger is he's an arrogant jerk, even to his family. Tiger would be out to dinner with his wife and she would still be eating, but as soon as he finished his last bite he would get up and walk out of the door leaving her by herself. He's also been known to treat ushers and caddy's very badly, and never stops to recognize the fans or sign autographs.
Colin Cowherd took a stand for Tiger today when a columnist published an article about Tiger's half-brother who is suffering from MS and trying to get in touch with Tiger. The columnist said the family doesn't want money from him, the brother just looks up to him and would like a phone call or a visit to help lift his spirits. Cowherd claims that all superior athletes like Tiger and Jordan are very cold and have to be to be successful in their trade. He also said that this is the type of person that Tiger is and he's not going to change. Now I can agree with this to an extent. Nobody becomes great by being ordinary. You have to be different and make sacrifices, but there are some things that these guys should do, and I'll get to that in a moment. Tiger is different. He's a very awkward person socially so I can see how he shuts out the rest of his family. Is it his responsibility to take care of a half-brother? Absolutely not, legally. But morally, most people see this as Tiger being a complete jerk and a bad person. I don't have an opinion one way or the other about this scenario. I know first hand from having friends and acquaintances that have made it to the professional level of sports and I've witnessed the "family and friends" that come out of no where to try and get a hand out, so I understand this and won't even get into that aspect of this discussion. The problem I do have is Cowherd saying that fans shouldn't expect athletes or acknowledgement from players.
He used analogies like buying jeans from Levi's. He told a caller "you don't go and buy jeans from Levi's and expect the CEO to come down and shake your hand and sign your jeans for you". For me, this isn't even a relevant comparison. Fans are what makes sports so special and so profitable. Yes, the team owners and sponsors are paying these guys, but they wouldn't have that money to pay them if we didn't go to their games and buy their products. And sports are a totally different realm than buying jeans. He also used doctors as an example of people that are not balanced and said athletes in sports are the same way. I'm sorry but when I go see my doctor I don't compare it to watching my favorite NFL team play. I realized doctors are very busy, but they don't charge money for people to come in and watch them perform surgery on a gall bladder. Sport is something that fans are passionate about and in many cases build their lives around. The people of New Orleans rallied around their football team in adversity to give them a sense of hope. Same with the people of Alabama who were ravaged by tornadoes. The University of Alabama brought a championship home a few months later and gave the people something to be happy about again. You can't say that about a new pair of jeans Colin.
I know these guys have rough days just like anyone else, but it's not too much to acknowledge the people that cheer for you, cry for you, paint their rooms at home the color of the team you play for, and skip out on chores only to get yelled at by their wives just to watch you play the game. I'm not asking for these guys to be balanced or change who they are, but I do think it's part of their job to acknowledge the fans.
Let me know your thoughts on this and follow me on twitter @bigpayno. I'm going to ruffle some feathers with Mr. Cowherd!