A Game of Smiles (WRD-W4)

The best escape in life is not a vacation, but sports. While many of us want to vast in the sunshine of Cancun, we don’t realize the we have our very own Cancun in our backyard. Take a ball, your dad, and some sunshine and wa-lah you have your own Cancun experience. But what makes this experience so memorable? Well, in sports it’s not always about the wins or the losses, but the experience. It’s about the people you spend it with, the memories that you’ve shared, and the life lesson that you formed. Many of us can’t even remember the first ten elements of the periodic table, but we always remember the time we spent with our parents teaching us how to kick a ball. Likewise, in Gary Smith’s “The Chosen One” and Frank DeFord’s “The Rabbit Hunter” both authors apply a contemplative tone that illustrates the juxtapositions that Tiger Woods and Bobby Night had to face in their lifetimes. In Gary Smith’s “The Chosen One” Smith illustrates that Tiger had to essentially battle two evils:the world and himself. Tiger always wanted to please his father no matter the cost. He would constantly practice and learn the lesson on how to be a professional. But what Tiger also had a hard time adjusting to was societies standards. As a young kid, Tiger wanted to embrace himself with others his age, but he was different. Different in the sense that he was not meant to be average, but extraordinary. Similarly, in Frank DeFord’s “The Rabbit Hunter” DeFord elaborates that the greatest battle Knight had to face was himself. Bobby Knight always issued a standard to the world about morals and the way you should treat others, but he himself went against those standards. Knight was the essential embodiment of success and failure: he thought you how to be great because he didn’t want you to be like him.

But Gary Smith’s piece is not all about the struggles that Tiger had to endure in his life. It’s also about his glory. Tiger was destined to be a star. While the world had never heard of him, his father knew his potential. Smith states “Tiger will win because of God’s mind. Can’t you see the pattern? Earl Woods asks. Can’t you see the signs? “Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” While those are some very bold statements from Earl Woods, he has the right idea for his son. Golf was predominately a white man’s sport around the world. Tiger had no place in golf being a “African American, Chinese, and Cherokee” individual. He was made to fail and pursue another career. But he did the exact opposite. From a young age he beat pros at their own game signifying his greatness. He won the biggest games as a teenager and he did it in style. Always showing his emotions always looking to his father for guidance. In Smith’s piece, Tiger is more of a symbol than a main character. It is Earl that the story revolves around. It showcases his aspirations for Tiger, what he believes Tiger can accomplish and that what makes this piece so significant. Earl is just another dad the wants his son to be great at a sport, but he wants him to be great enough that he changes the perception of society and makes nations truly admire a new social norm.

Likewise, we see a change from student to teacher in Frank DeFord’s piece “The Rabbit Hunter.” In DeFord’s piece Bobby Knight is known by many as a man that lives two lives. Those close to Knight would use the phrases “sweet, kind, respectable.” While those who associate with him would simply call him an ass. Knight was a man that had certain values. Growing up in a small town of Indiana in the 1950s, Knight was accustomed to certain norms. The civil rights movement was about to take place so society had a huge split on ideals. But while others would argue that Knight encompasses certain sexist and racist remarks, he’s essentially just like any of us. He wants the best out of his players not only on the basketball court, but in society as well. Knight would go on to teach many of his players the values of education, and the tools of success outside of basketball. He was even brash to consider a ban of scholarships if his players didn’t met eligibility requirements enticing “How can anyone vote against education?” And Knight was right. While the NCAA these days favors ratings more than education, it’s hard to disagree with a guy like Knight. While we don’t agree with his antics, we must respect what he’s doing:coaching. He’s not just coaching about basketball, but what it means to be a good person. Knight is essentially telling the world “you don’t have to like me, but listen to what I say.” With his teachings on respect to the elders, the need for education, and what hard-work and dedication does for someone, Knight embodies the perception of the villain. Someone we hate because their always right.

Through both pieces it is evident to see the humorous, yet vital ideas. Sports are not just about playing a game, it’s about playing the game of life as well. We don’t have to be sport stars, but we have to become good citizens. In both pieces, it is visible that sports don’t just build character, they reveal it.

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