Can a single athlete change a sport? The obvious answer is YES and as a journalist and simply a fan - I’m obsessed with how an athlete can feed a sport into pop culture and simultaneously redefine the sport they play.
American tennis thrived when Serena and Venus were battling each other at Grand Slams. Shawn White turned the Winter Olympics into a viewing party when he was snowboarding. And the GOAT, Michael Jordan revolutionized basketball and the damn sneakers I wear today!
It's rare for any athlete to have such dominance in a single sport but when it does happen their impact is tangible and beneficial for everyone involved! Cue the ‘shock and awe campaign’ that ensued when Tiger went out for a practice round at Augusta National, tweeting it would be a game-time decision .... just days before the start of the tournament. But more surprisingly, Tiger is only a year removed from the car accident that nearly ended his life! A bold choice from a player who has only made bold moves when he was the dominant player in golf.
Tiger Woods is THE BEST to ever play the game (go debate me on Twitter) but he’s also the most fascinating. He’s been on the scene since he was kid and we’ve watched him grow up, on and off the course but we still don’t really know who Tiger Woods is. I can’t tell if he’s happy, mad or sad when he plays. When he wins, I see the joy but he’s still very poised and polished in his remarks. I also assume that’s the reason why the media, the fans - hell other golfers, seem to thrive at a different pace when Tiger is playing. He truly adds mystery and a more intense competition to the sport.
As of today, he will play in The Masters. Those who follow the sport know that Tiger is no stranger to a comeback. His 2008 victory at Torrey Pines on a left leg that had a stress fracture is synonymous to his journey as a champion. However this time should be different for Tiger, I could list a litany of injuries and other reasons why he should sit this one out but this is what he does- and we love it: we are fascinated by this story.
As a living legend, he’s competing against the generation that he changed the game for, many of these players made it to this level by emulating Tiger. Regardless of the outcome at The Masters, we will never see another golfer like Tiger Woods. That is a fact. Enjoy! It’s Masters Weekend!