If you are at all familiar with the sport of golf you probably know the name Tiger Woods. Perhaps not just because he’s the king of his sport, but maybe for other reasons such as his sponsorships with Nike or Gatorade. Or perhaps from his charity work through the Tiger Woods foundation. From his eighty PGA Tour wins, to his fourteen Major Championships, Tiger is arguably the greatest player to ever compete at golf’s highest level. It would not be excessive to suggest that he has fundamentally changed the very nature of the game itself. His critics would argue that he has changed it for the worse. I say better. Is it still only about winning? What role has money, titles, and entertainment played in professional sports? To help support my thesis I will also be discussing how other athletes have had the same impact on how we watch, and even participate in sports today. In my opinion, the influence of these athletes have had nothing but a positive influence on the sport they represent.
Firstly, throughout the years many fans worldwide have chosen to have a voice when it comes to expressing their thoughts on the effects of professional athletes. Not just on the game itself, but how their victories can somehow move millions around the world to fall in love with the sport. As mentioned before, Tiger Woods, one of the worlds greatest golfers of all time is a perfect example. Having almost sunk to the ash heap of the sporting world, the game of golf seem to had been resurrected when the ‘Big Cat’ had stepped onto the scene. Many have even given him the nickname “B.M.” referring to the “Black Messiah.” Many critics talk about Tiger about as if he is more than just a golfer; the fact that he’s a stylist, the ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all time). A pro-Tiger journalists once said: “They all come to see him, everybody does. When Tiger comes to a tournament, he is the tournament. He’s not moving the needle, he is the needle. Just a different animal compared to all the other superstars of the game.”
This is a prime example of what we call the Tiger effect. Although not all of this so called “effect” may be seen as something constructive. Since the dawn of the game, it was a game played by older white men. It was even commonly well known as a gentleman’s game, reserved for the upper crust of society. Now just as anything else in this world with a purpose, slowly but surely the game evolved. With the combination of technological advances plus human nature, golf was never to be the same. Tiger Eldrick Woods, an African American from Jupiter, Florida came onto the professional stage in 1996. This unlocked a new sense of pride to many of all backgrounds. As Tiger grew to become one of the most iconic sports figures of his time, many things came with that. A few of those being money, sponsorships, and branding. Golf became a way of life, rather than just a weekend sport. As mentioned earlier, Tiger Woods was not the only player to have this effect on the world of Sport. Michael Jordan and Roger Federer are among some of the greatest athletes to ever live who have left their mark in their own field of work. A basketball player and a tennis player who have both changed the very nature of their sport.
Known as the face of basketball, Michael Jordan came onto the court with a purpose. His very play style altered how the game itself was evolutionized. A quote by Roy S. Johnson reads:
“Words no longer suffice when the subject is Michael Jordan. You need numbers. Call him the very best basketball player who ever lived, and no one puts up much of a fuss anymore: Five championship rings, five MVP trophies, a record ten scoring titles — yeah, he’s got more game than anybody. Ask whether he’s worth all that money he’s paid by Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and you’re still not likely to start any bar fights.” Here in a nutshell shows the latitude and longitude of Michael Jordan’s career and how it has affected not just the basketball world, but his work and success from a business standpoint.
Global brands like Air Jordan and Nike have simply taken center stage in the marketing world. During his time in the NBA, Jordan has parlayed his breathtaking skills and overwhelming cross-cultural appeal into an industry, and he’s done it more effectively than any other before him. The man has his own line of underwear, for heaven’s sake. He virtually created the sports video market. The fan-favorite movie Space Jam has grossed $230 million dollars worldwide.
Roger Federer is one who is a figurative next-door neighbor to Michael Jordan when it comes to utter dominance in his specific sport. A sports analyst for Sportskeeda said: “I don’t want to write about the ethereal beauty of his game, or his silken movements along the court. Nor do I want to talk about his superhuman statistics. They’re all a Google search away, be my guest. Nor do I want to talk about his defeats, or how he reinvented himself in the latter half of his storied career. A couple of months ago, when the Fed-retirement-fear was getting too loud in my head, I was convinced I needed to do an article on this. Therefore I was also wondering on what to write since every possible topic about him has already been covered! In my frantic search, I started skimming through old YouTube videos of him and browsed other articles. One thing was obvious there was no shortage of material.” He too was one of Nike’s biggest faces and has altered the sport of tennis in every way possible.
Additionally, as you study more in depth the life and career of of these athletes you learn more and more about how they influenced the world around them in many different ways. Some may say that these competitors are exactly what their sports did not need, maybe because of what they have done these games will never be the same. Or the fact that what they have done is not only affecting the sport(s) itself, but how we look at, think about, and even perceive competition in general. But of course there are always two sides to every opinion. I am here to once again make the point that what these athletes have done in their profession, is exactly what was needed for the evolution of the athletic world. Because of the impact of someone like Tiger Woods, many question the future of the game of golf. Where it will it be? Who will be playing it? Will it even be familiar to us? Over time these are just a few of the questions that have been posed in regards to these athletes the last several years.
Next, to show for the need of serious nourishment in the sporting world, Rick Maese of the Washington post wrote: “That hunger has grown, and sports teams, leagues and television executives are still trying to figure out the best way to feed the demand — or at least to understand it. A recent survey by CivicScience on behalf of SportsBusiness Journal found that one-third of respondents say they’re watching less sports than one year ago, and 15 percent say they have “cut the cord” — walked away from traditional cable service — in the past year. Network executives are still trying to process why sports ratings struggled so much over the past 12 months.” This plainly shows us the importance, and validity of this argument. The world of sports is not just merely something we as humans do, enjoy, or even look forward to, but rather it is ingrained into the very fiber which makes us who we are. Therefore, it is important to understand the degree in which Tiger Woods impacted the game of golf. Of course not just with golf but all sports, our desire to always remember what the game means, teaches, and symbolizes will always ring true.
Succeeding that, the sooner one comes to understand the extent in which all three of these athletes have had on me, you, and any child with a dream. The sooner you will come to know that what Tiger Woods has done for the game of golf meant two things. First, is that the change he brought both simply and sequentially, is the most transformational and exponential change that has ever taken place in any sport, by any athlete ever. Secondly, that this evolution was exactly what the sport of golf needed in every sense of the word. When thousands of people stop buying tickets to attend a PGA tour event because you are not playing, that it when you know you are remembered. When your abilities on the course, can strike a slice of hope into one’s life off the course, you are remembered. This is what makes the works Tiger Woods so monumental. This change that we have discussed, will never be forgotten. The game of golf will always be indebted to that man. The domino effect can be used to describe Tiger because of the change he instilled in others. Meaning that because of one career, one name, one game, all that follow will pay tribute to what has been done before. All the money, fame, and glam? That all comes with it. It’s the future, one hand washes the other, and as we come to accept this as reality, the cap for golf is suddenly removed.
In conclusion, Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest player to ever compete at the highest level in the sport of golf. It is an objective statement when someones says that he has fundamentally changed the very nature of the game itself. Because of him, the game of golf has been revamped, refurbished, and even resurrected as stated once before. In the following quote Tiger Woods himself gives us a glimpse of how the paradigm he had, affected everything he did. “No matter how good you get, you can always get better, and that is the exciting part.”