Monday, March 22, 2010

Do you have an Earl?


This is a strectch, maybe a major stretch for some of you, but think this one through and you might agree.

My favorite sign of Spring is..... The Masters. Yes, I would call it a "Rite of Spring", but that would make the beloved Igor Stravinsky mad that I made the comparison to such a trivial thing as sports.

This year, the Masters will be one of the most watched ever because of the return of Tiger Woods.

As we all know, Tiger has been burned at the stake for his "indiscretions". Oh how I love euphamisms. Cough, Cough. Funny, I just call it "Adultry", but I am a cold hearted mean spirited person.

Ironically, we hold him to a different standard than NBA Super stars, and rock stars. Was it Wilt Chamberlain who bragged about sleeping with 2000 women? I am not even sure if that comparison works, as I don't know if he was married during those 2k women.

So what happened to Tiger? I can't say I am a biographer on him, but I followed him from the day he won his first PGA tournament (I think it was the 96 Masters, but am not positive).

Tiger is more a product of his father, Earl. Earl gave up his life/career to devote everything to the development of his sons golf game. Earl was the constant needle in Tiger's side, always raising the bar and holding him accountable. He would make noise while Tiger was putting, throw things at him while putting, and much of the like. Earl was preparing him for the real world of golf.

As most of you probably know, Earl passed away a few years back.

Now enter my speculation.

Many superstars of our time have spiraled out of control into all sort of excess. Too many to name here, but let's look at a couple.

Elvis Presley
Micheal Jackson.

Aside from both being musicians, they both lacked people who set boundaries for them. They both did not have people who could say "Your behaviour right now is unacceptable" without fearing the consequences of losing their access to the famous person.

I am guessing that Earl was also one of the only people who could truly say to him "This behaviour is unacceptable". Tiger respected, and I believe feared his dad. Fear, in this case, is a form of respect.

Elvis and Michael did not have these people. They surrounded themselves with people who cared about being a part of "the fame" and not really caring about "the person"

I recall my days in college living in a fraternity. The fraternity preached "brotherhood". When a brother would drink too much and pass out, they would celebrate. If they did it often, they would celelbrate more. I never liked that. I remember thinking "a true brother would try to stop this, not encourage it".

I flash back to Superior Sawtooth last year at mile 50. I had made my mind already to drop. I had been sitting for around half an hour, and my crew, Bill, was trying everything to get my ass back on the course. I was a total mess. Out of nowhere, Wouter "the guy from Belgium" gets in my face and says "You're coming with me". His eyes cut to my soul. He said it with conviction, and I followed. I didn't know the guy, but at that point he was a fellow brother on the trail. He eyes were saying "Your behaviour right now is unacceptable".

I still dropped 12 miles later, but he got me those 12 miles.

I remember a few years back during that real hot Twin Cities Marathon. My good friend John was walking at mile 24, but was still under a 3 hour pace. No other runner was around. All of the spectators were saying "you can do it!!!". I yelled "John, if you don't get running right now, I am personally going to come out there and kick your ass!". He started running. Hard. There were mumbles around me, and I heard some say how mean I was. John called me that night to thank me.

Sometimes it is a special person, sometimes it is anyone with the right timing, sometimes it is someone who has a ton of credibilty, but when things get tough, I believe we all need our Earl Woods. We need that person who can say "Your behaviour is completely unacceptable".

Hopefully I WON'T need that April 9-10.


Psyche said...

Not a stretch at all! A really good insight.

Mike Tyson comes to mind as another example of someone spiraling out of control when faced with Earllessness (new word!)

Chris Swenke said...

Very well written and appropriate column.

Not sure why I know this but Wilt Chamberlain said he had slept with over 20,000 women.

Best of luck in April!

Helen said...

I think Earl is Larry's middle name.

Wayne said...

good post, Matt. And I almost skipped it figuring it was some crazy workout.