Late last week, I was at home in front of our fireplace as my wife began to scroll through HBO to find something to watch on TV. Not paying attention, she asked if we could watch a new documentary that was being promoted on HBO’s home screen. I looked up and immediately recognized the red Nike polo shirt and the charming smile.
We began the 90-minute plunge into “Tiger,” part one of a two-part documentary.
We dove into what life was like before Tiger became immensely famous. We began to garner more of an understanding of how early his career in golf began, as well as the beginning of his career. Though the documentary centers around him, what left me in shock was the influence and actions of Tiger’s father, Earl, throughout the earlier part of his son’s life.
Tiger was born less than a year after Earl Woods ended his military career, which included a stint in Vietnam with the Green Berets. Before Tiger turned 2, Earl was teaching him golf. Once they realized the extent of Tiger’s talents, Earl stepped aside to let others continue to teach, but his presence never left.
This documentary not only painted a better picture of Earl, but also of his wife, Kultida. They wanted the best for Tiger. But he was so immersed in golf that he never had a chance to accomplish something most of us take for granted.
To be a kid.
The documentary explores Tiger’s desire to try other sports, only to be encouraged by his parents to focus on golf, because no other sport would give him such a chance for success.
So Tiger stayed the course.
Watching this documentary, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief for how my parents raised my brothers and me. We were never told what sports to play and what sports not to, we were only encouraged to give our best effort.
Playing a multitude of sports, I’ve seen every kind of parent. One that sticks out in my mind was a Little League teammate whose overbearing father would lecture him for the smallest mistake. His son grew to hate baseball, and he stopped playing before he got to high school.
Parents like Earl and Kultida exist in sports, among every level of play. Parents who expect the absolute best out of their children, and are ready to help them make the best of their experiences. They won’t let any outside noise prevent them from reaching their fullest potential.
Don’t get me wrong, talent at such a young age is hard to predict. Tiger certainly had it, and with his father pushing him, he developed an intense focus.
I think it’s quite easy to overlook with the younger generation the importance of the numerous lessons you can learn in sports. It’s an opportunity to build lifelong friendships, the ability to handle your losses as well as your wins, and to understand the importance of simply having fun.
Some parents will expect their kids to be the best, rather than giving their best effort.
Earl Woods’ approach with Tiger convinced me that when that day comes, I want my kids to enjoy playing the sports they choose, and rather than put pressure on them to compete at a high level, I’ll tell them to just have fun.