An Appreciation for Athletes

I don't particularly like sports. I'll watch a tennis match or a few holes of golf and that's about it. The whole idea of team sports just doesn't grab me.. and don't ask me to explain the tour de france, I have no idea how that works. The green and checkered jerseys are for what again?

However, due to certain constraints as of late, I've been put into the situation of watching more than a few holes of golf and a handful of tennis matches; and it got me thinking. "Hell, that looks easy! I want a piece of the Masters' $10,000,000 purse" and so my friend Mark and I went on a roll today. We played tennis this morning, went to the driving range around lunch, swam a bit and then played badminton this afternoon. And I realized one thing, I realized that sports are hard.

I'm not sure that these people deserve all the money they get, I mean after all it's just a game and there are hungry people in the world, but it's still pretty impressive. I'm not a short or weak guy and the best that I hit a golf ball with a driver today was about 150 yards (before you snicker please remember that I never really played golf). Before we left for the range, my sister was reading out loud from a book about a caddy where it was said that John Daly once hit a drive 440 yards. Now, the ones I hit to 150 yards were pretty good, by which I mean that I had good form, I made nice contact with the ball, and it went nice and straight. How anyone, or anything short of a cannon for that matter, could hit it three times further than I did is just incredible in the true meaning of the word. I mean "Long" John Daly (the nickname by the way, I learned today, has nothing to do with his golf skills) is a gambling, eating, drunk. I feel inadequate in multiple dimensions, and just shake my head in shame.

Now I'd get better with practice I'm sure, but certainly not three times better. Some people are really that good. When you watch Tiger Woods swing it's art, it really is. So smooth, so graceful, so efficient. I once saw a photo while reading Sport Illustrated in the waiting room of a doctors office where Tiger had thrown his club to his caddy while simultaneously the caddy was throwing his next club back to him. The photo captured the two clubs crossing in midair. But what really got me was that Tiger was looking ahead toward the next shot with hand outstretched to catch the new club without looking. Complete concentration. It was a great photo of a great moment.

It just goes to prove that no matter what the pursuit, there is the concept of perfection. The way I look at it, everything's got the same goal, they're just coming at it from different directions. Tiger and John can do it with a swing, I'm gonna run around the other side and see if there's a backdoor.