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What if Tiger Woods Used Steroids?
I was 14 and stood just a few feet from Andre the Giant, it's a moment I'll never forget. Andre the Giant was a real giant, but everybody there knew WWF stood for World Wrestling Federation (not World Wildlife Fund) and that wrestling was fake, but keeping the "kayfabe" going made seeing guys like Andre the Giant a lot more fun.
Kayfabe is the term for playing along and pretending the bad guys threatened the all-important honor and dignity of winning a title match, and that the good guys are really good and the stuff is real, like the referee has any authority and the winner of the match gets more money from the "federation". Well, now it is admittedly Entertainment, not to be confused with entities such as the USGA or even the PGA.
I was 24 and watched this guy Tiger Woods transform Golf the way Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan transformed Pro-Wrestling. He was just as impossible to defeat, and also seemed to toy with his enemies, get into a bit of trouble, hulk out, and in a flurry of signature moves, defeat the enemy with glorious and incredible strength, stamina, and sheer willpower. Yet I believed it was real, the officials had authority and held to the rules, and the person with the most talent was winning the matches and getting the money.
By the time I was 34, I no longer believed Tiger was any different than the Ultimate Warrior. They both owed their impossible physiques to more than a strenuous routine.
Who's in Charge?
Where Are They Now?
The PGA officials seemed to cut Tiger more slack than Star Wrestlers, ESPN maintained Kayfabe like these power golfers owed their 320 yard drives entirely to talent and equipment technology. They also expected us to believe that swing coaches and psychologists were responsible for the laser-like focus and energizer-bunny constitution of this new breed of power golfers. The likes of Seve Ballasteros and Gary Player who won by skill and talent would have no place in this day and age. They lengthened so many courses it became known as "Tiger-proofing" because he was driving every Par 5 in two, par 4 greens in one, and hitting 9-irons and wedges off the tees of par 3s. After adding hundreds of yards to historically unchanged courses, all they managed to do was force him to keep his driver in the bag while eliminating the chances of "short hitters" who's driving averaged below 285 yards. Meanwhile hacks bought the latest equipment in hopes of wielding such power. The pros, however, never really used cavity-back irons and springy driver shafts - it made a difference for the hacks but the pro's had something else going on. The dominated just like the stars of Wrestlemania VI. I just hope it doesn't come with the same consequences.
What happens now?
I don't know what happens to your body after steroids, but if the pro-wrestling and NFL veterans are any indication it looks pretty grim. The men who stood like giants in the 80's and 90's when I was a kid are not looking very good if they are even alive now. Many died in their early 50's. In contrast, the old guard of Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Faldo, Tom Kite, etc. played well into middle age and beyond quite competitively. Even Nicklaus, who began to struggle in his early 40's, pulled off some wins including a Major later on. Tom Watson almost won a couple times at an even older age, even during the reign of Tiger. It will be interesting to see how things evolve. I guess for the current generation of sportsmen, a lot of it has to do with what the Vince McMahons and Walter Whites of the world manage to produce in their laboratories.