After last Sunday, I am sure most people by now have heard about Tiger Woods’ most recent victory, with some news articles even claiming that his victory was “bigger than an NFL Sunday.” It was his first victory in five years, although some in the article claim it “felt like fifteen.” After reading the article above, I began thinking about a discussion we had last week in class, about why people choose to leave or withdraw from sports. Although Woods obviously didn’t completely leave golf, for many years he wasn’t living up to the golf player his fans once knew and loved so well.
In class, we spoke about the reasons that athletes decide to leave a sport. Negative reasons that we discussed included injuries, bad team relationship, burnout, lack of playing time, etc. On the other hand, we discussed some positive reasons, such as family, the birth of a new child, life changes, and moving on to a new phase in life. Although Woods didn’t actually stop playing golf, many events in his life lead up to a point in time when Woods was not playing golf at the potential that his fans witnessed him at for so many years before, leaving many people wondering if he would ever return to his known potential. This article talked about how, after so many years of Woods not playing to his full potential, on Sunday he became “the best of the best one more time.” The article then goes on to say that even despite all of his injuries (mainly back problems), and not to mention his issues in his social life, he came back and blew everyone away again, which at one point seemed “unfathomable.”
Woods’ reasons for withdrawing from golf include his increasing age (now 42 years old), parenthood, infidelity (and a huge scandal in the media), divorce, rehabilitation for sexual addiction, back injury, overuse/dependence on prescription medications, and a DUI charge, just to name a few. For many, this would be a reason to actually be done with the sport, and although he may have withdrawn from the sport, he never quit.
It is amazing to see after everything that Woods has been through, positive and negative, self-inflicted or not, he still resorts back to the sport of golf and was able to have another huge victory last weekend, proving to his fans that he is still the person they all fell in love with. To conclude with a well-put quote from the article linked above, on Sunday the audience and his fans were ecstatic as they saw him gain victory once again as “vintage Tiger triumph as a new and improved man.” I believe the title of the article, “How Tiger Woods overcame pain, scandal, and age to triumph again,” really speaks for itself and for this story.
In relation to the topic of sociology and sport to tie everything together, a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Sociology of Sport was published that evaluated reasons that athletes withdraw from sports, and it stated that “It is becoming recognized that although changes in life often involve losses that require adaptation, those changes may also bring challenges, freedom, and opportunity.” The study went on to say that “withdrawal from sport was not simply an event but a process over time… a variety of catalytic events such as trades or demotion to another team, injury, contract negotiations, or reduced performance reminded the athletes that their career was short-term.” There are many reasons that athletes decide to withdraw from sports. For some, this withdrawal is permanent as they move on with their lives, and for others like Woods, it is temporary and eventually, they come back strong like the athlete they once were.
Featured image: source