Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One of the greatest things about sports in today's world is that it gives the modest, average person stories to watch and tell. Last year, the world was astonished by Tiger Woods' one-legged triumph in an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate (who became an overnight sensation: the average Joe who stood toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods and almost won). This year in the NBA Finals, Phil Jackson became the all-time championship leader among coaches and Kobe Bryant won his first title without Shaq. This year's U.S. Open has a number of great stories that have the potential for coming to fruition: Tiger could win and show that he is truly back from knee surgery; Phil Mickelson could win his fourth major (his first without his wife in the crowd as she battles breast cancer; Phil would be making his first major appearance since taking time away from the tour to be with his wife); Kenny Perry could redeem himself from his epic Masters meltdown; and Sergio Garcia, the best player not to win a major, could win his first major.

Which of these stories is the most appealing? An ESPN.com poll reveals that America would most like to see Tiger Woods win and complete his comeback. There is no doubt that Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of this generation and possibly of all time. He has won 14 majors already and despite missing the end of last season because of injury, he has showed no signs of slowing down. Why does America care so much about this particular golfer, who has everything (even his own video game!), has done everything, and has really nothing to prove?!

This is the type of society America has become. All America seems to care about is the strong, the successful; and not only that, but the best and strongest of the elite group. Phil Mickelson is a great golfer, and what's more, he's a great human being; but America ignores him because he doesn't step on any toes and goes about his business humbly and quietly. When he does speak his mind (like he did when Tiger Woods signed his endorsment with Nike), he is slammed in the media.

Tiger is notorious for his poor repoir with fans, while Phil is loved for his friendliness with fans. However, who is the one America roots for? The man who wins more and has more money. It doesn't matter that Phil is coming back from an experience almost every one of us can identify with and knows how difficult it is to focus on anything else (especially golf).

In the end, it's not that big of a deal. Maybe some other story will arise from the field and America will be rooting for someone else for a week. But let's face it: when it comes down to picking a person to root for, America chooses the safe, wealthy, and flambouyant man instead of the humble, everyday, man's man.