Who’s the Biggest Jerk in Sports?

WHO’S THE BIGGEST JERK IN SPORTS?
By: Guy T. Saperstein

It’s so easy to criticize Tiger Woods. Some of us even enjoy making fun of him. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-t-saperstein/whats-bad-for-tiger-aint_b_390347.html. But the guy just gives us so many opportunities, criticism becomes almost irresistible.

Take the U.S. Open as the latest example. He finished tied for 4th, which is no disgrace for a guy with the personal problems he is carrying around. It would have been appropriate for him to say that he played well, but not well enough to win, and congratulate the winner, Graeme McDowell. Instead, he complained about the greens as being “awful,” criticized his caddy, Stevie Williams, for giving him the wrong club on the 6th tee and encouraging him to fire at the pin on the 10th green, as though it wasn’t his responsibility to make the final call on both shots. I mean, when Woods hit a great shot to the 18th green on Saturday, did he say afterwards, “I give Stevie all the credit for suggesting I hit that shot?” In fact, has he ever given Stevie credit for hitting a great shot? Well, actually, no—because the golfer hits the shot, not the caddy. And, instead of congratulating the winner, when asked about how the course was set-up, he complained about the USGA’s Mike Davis setting up the course to give “more guys the chance to win. It’s more open now, with the graduated rough and being firm and fast like this.” Maybe more players did have “the chance to win” but that is a good thing, not a bad thing, and rather than suggesting the set-up conditions were too egalitarian, it would have shown some grace to say that they all played under the same conditions and McDowell won—congratulations to him. But grace and Tiger are two words which apparently can’t be used in the same sentence.

This dreadful lack of minimal manners followed Tiger’s even more egregiously graceless comments following Phil Mickelson’s winning the Masters in April. The fans had welcomed Woods back with warmth and compassion after months of sordid revelations about his sexual escapades, and Woods had played well, also finishing 4th, but not only had Mickelson won the tournament, it was one of the most popular wins ever because Mickelson is perhaps the most popular player in golf today and Mickelson’s wife and mother were in the middle of battling cancer. But instead of acknowledging the fact that golf fans had welcomed him back with equanimity and congratulating Mickelson, when the TV reporter asked Woods what he thought of the tournament, Woods said, “I didn’t win. It’s as simple as that.” End of story. Apparently, for Woods winning is not just the most important thing, it is the only thing. The fans welcoming him back didn’t merit even a comment from him. Mickelson’s win didn’t merit even a perfunctory congratulation. And acknowledging the strain Mickelson has been under due to his wife and mother’s serious illnesses was beyond him.

Who’s the biggest jerk in sports? Let the bidding begin: I bid Tiger Woods.

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