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Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

Dean Shutt

Welcome back to Fun and Games. It's been a little while hasn't it? We are working on some things to insure that we don't have these long layoffs in the future and we hope you haven't given up on us altogether.

You folks know I am not much of a golf fan. I like to play it well enough, but I'm not a psycho about it. I never watch it on television and I rarely read about it, so who better to ask whether golf's number one star is in fact killing the game?

I have noticed recently that this Tiger Woods fellow is winning the odd tournament here and there. It seems as though he wins pretty much everything that he enters as a matter of fact. Recent coverage has seemed to consist of, "How many strokes will Tiger win this one by?" I suppose that is to be expected since he wins every one that he enters. What strikes me as odd though, is that the sporting media seem to revel in it. No one has asked what is the obvious question in my mind. Is Tiger Woods killing professional golf?

I was reading an article that said that TV ratings and gate sales were cut in half if Tiger wasn't appearing. Obviously he is a draw of huge proportions, but how long can that last? Golf is not an inherently exciting sport like football or basketball. Golf derives its excitement from the competition between contestants. Two guys coming down to the wire, tied or separated by a stroke, everyone holding their breath as one or the other attempts the winning 20 footer, that is what makes for exciting golf.

So where is the thrill going to come from if Tiger continues his current ways. He is getting BETTER all the time folks. No one can play with him now and he is getting BETTER! What is going to happen when he and his game mature? Is it really going to be all that exciting when he owns every record in the history of the sport and there isn't anyone on the planet that can beat him? Are you still going to watch when he runs his tournament-winning streak to thirty in a row? Forty? Fifty? When does it get old?

I hear people complain about baseball that it is always the same teams in World Series. Atlanta and the Yankees, every year, the Braves and the Yanks. Well I have news for you folks - those teams at least lose the occasional regular season game to keep it interesting. How much fun would it be if the Yankees went 162 and 0 every year for a decade or so and swept the playoffs? Aside from the spectacle of every Red Sox fan on the planet jumping from the nearest skyscraper, it would be pretty darn boring. Isn't Tiger's domination the same thing?

I also hear people complain about parity in the NFL and that it's just a bunch of 8-8 teams seeking to go 9 and 7. Well as the fan of a longtime crappy team who has only recently managed to achieve mediocrity, (OK, a little more than mediocrity, but no title yet) I have to say that the thing that makes the NFL such a wonder to me is that at the beginning of the year you have no clue who is going to win it all. Sure you have your favorites, but for the most part those are out the window by week 4 and the wide-open demolition derby that is the NFL can really get started.

I was reading a column the other day by some dimwit who longed for the days when the regular season and playoffs were just precursors to the Conference championships. When the two best teams in the league would meet to determine who would go on to walk over the other conference's sacrificial lamb in the Super Bowl. I have to wonder "what kind of crack this guy is smoking?" Give me last year's Super Bowl, when you had no idea who was going to come out on top and you actually had to watch the game.

What I see happening in golf is just scary. What the heck is the point of having a professional tour with only one guy winning everything? I can appreciate Tiger's game as much as anyone and that ball on the wedge thing he does is nothing short of amazing. But how long can sit and watch this guy play perfectly, knowing that everyone else is just playing for second?

It's only fun to watch a sport if you don't know what is going to happen next; just ask the WWF. They fix matches all the time to insure there is always a surprise. I'm not saying that golf should do that, but it would be kind of cool to see Tiger in a cage match with Duvall occasionally.

Dean's House of Pain Joy

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