I have very few sports allegiances that drive me to either end of the emotional spectrum, especially professionally. Honestly, in the business that I'm in, I think it actually helps me think and assess things clearer than if I had a diehard rooting interest.
Sure, I root for the Houston teams, and in particular certain players that I've gotten to know a little bit in my two years back in Houston. I root for Notre Dame (my alma mater) in college football. Professionally, the only team that moves the emotional needle for me (and admittedly, even they haven't really done that since 2004) is the Boston Red Sox, which by definition means that the New York Yankees move the emotional hate-meter for me as well.
Where am I going with all of this? Well, as a Red Sox fan, I'm about to commit treason when I say that Derek Jeter just became my favorite athlete. Subliminally, maybe he has been for some time now, but I just realized it today. Why? Well, we have Tiger Woods to thank for that. Stay with me....
Last week, Derek Jeter was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. In giving the award, SI's Terry McDonnell said, "Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field."
Yeah, blah blah blah...that's all well and good. It bears mentioning that Jeter is also a 10-time All Star, a five-time World Champion, and will pass the 3,000-hit plateau sometime in 2011, not to mention the fact that he's carved out a pretty nice financial emprie of his own. Not Tiger-esque, but enough for his grandkids' grandkids to live comfortably....that is, if Jeter were to ever decide to procreate. And therein lies the rub, and the reason why I think Derek Jeter is the Sportsman of the Year and the smartest man on the planet -- Derek Jeter bangs who he wants, when he wants, with no fear of reprisal.
I realize that for some of you, that last sentence sounds crass and superficial, but when guys around the country are asked the question "Which athlete would you most want to trade lives with?" and they answer "Derek Jeter" in about two-tenths of a nanosecond (and trust me, he IS the most frequent answer to that question), it's not because of this resume:
10-time All Star (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
Four Gold Gloves (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009)
Two Hank Aaron Awards (2006, 2009)
Five-time World Champion (1998, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009)
AL Rookie of the Year (1996)
It's because of THIS resume:
Miss Universe Lara Dutta
Exactly -- guys want to be Jeter because he gets more ass than a row of toilet seats at the Super Bowl. But it's not just that. It's also because Derek Jeter has been one of the few athletes who can get anyone he wants AND was smart enough to....(drum roll please)....STAY SINGLE. No sneaking around, no voicemail messages begging some skank to remove her name from her caller ID so the wife can't see it, no teenage country singers. And in turn, no divorce lawyers or nine-figure settlements (It's coming, Tiger. Oh yes, it's coming.).
Put it this way -- if Derek Jeter is ever in a one-car accident at 3 a.m. with his wife having to "rescue" him by smashing his back windows out with a Louisville slugger, come find me. I'll buy you a steak dinner.
Which brings us to Tiger, who is handling the last six days like a man whose world is crumbling around him. Never mind that even after all of this is over, even AFTER the inevitable divorce settlement, his net worth will still be more than the GNP of several third-world countries and his occupation will still be "professional golfer," a vocation roughly 300 gajillion men worldwide would give their left nut to write down as their source of income on their 1040 every year.
Why is he handling it like this? Well, because Tiger would tell you that his occupation is not "golfer," but "worldwide brand and role model."
You see, Tiger has been programmed by those around him since the age of two to think that there's more to him than just golf, that he is the Chosen One. Jesus Christ in spikes, if you will. Hell, if his father Earl were still here, and he were filling out Tiger's taxes, he'd list Tiger's occupation as "Messiah." (Side bar: As of yesterday, Earl Woods shot to the top of the list of "Dead guys I'd like to bring back so they can see what's happening to their once-proud franchise," surpassing the late Al Davis. Wait, what's that....he's not?....oh, never mind.)
You weren't fooling anybody, Tiger. We all saw the f-bombs and temper tantrums on the course. They didn't make you a bad guy, but they did make you human, a label that you and your late old man probably would have cringed at a week ago. How did it feel having to actually admit imperfection on your website? Welcome to the real world.
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The fact of the matter is I'm sure part of the reason that Tiger Woods got married was because it was the next logical step in the construction of Transcendent Tiger -- world-class golfer, billionaire...FAMILY MAN! Marry the blonde Swedish nanny, have a couple kids, add Toys R Us and Disney World to the list of sponsors. Lather, rinse, repeat. The other fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, none of us really care that you're married or that you have kids or that you're the second coming or that you're perfect. We like to watch you swing a golf club. That's it. So, for me at least, no apology necessary, Tiger. Because I never bought in to begin with.
This just in -- hypercompetitive, highly skilled, athletic males (i.e. world-class professional athletes) who have the world ready to serve them at the touch of a cell phone keypad CHASE WOMEN. The competitiveness that manifests itself on the field/course, is how they're wired 24/7. In short, tail is another conquest. There's no crime in that (in fact, as stated previously, many of us are envious). But if that's what you're gonna do Tiger, if that's who you are, just be that person. We're fine with it. Ask Derek Jeter.
Derek Jeter won the SI Sportsman of the Year for 2009 this past week. It was the first time he's won the award. If he wins it again, he'll join the only other two-time winner of the award: Tiger Woods.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show". Also, you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.