Imagine turning your passion into your career. Maybe it’s art, music or sports; you might consider academia in areas such as science, history or math. Whatever it is, take a second and envision yourself at the highest professional level of that interest. Relish this thought.
Now imagine it’s been stripped away from you completely and suddenly. No warning — it’s gone. You’d be upset, right?
For Eldrick “Tiger” Woods and those of whose Sunday afternoons he occupied, this is a new reality. In a car accident in which he plowed through a massive sign and wrestled with 50 feet of forest off a boulevard in Southern California, the likelihood that we see him back on a golf course hangs in the balance.
In emailing with my high school teacher, he wrote about how Woods may finally achieve peace in giving up competitive golf. “Tiger,” as we know him, has been the pinnacle of the sport for the past twenty-five years and defined by the game since he was three years old. With that, my former instructor believes, comes a lack of freedom to enjoy life’s other experiences and an absence of personal sanity that cannot be replicated by anything else.
While he may be right about the consuming nature of professional sports and the toll they take on their athletes, I reject the notion that a competitor is better off without competition. Within all of us, not just athletes, inherent qualities exist that predispose us to our preferred environments. To depart these communities is to lose a piece of our individuality — an irreplaceable strain of our DNA.
Thus, we search for proper closure. Often, we fantasize about saving the day and riding off into the sunset with many stories to tell future generations. While this conclusion may seem idealistic for many, it is this “Hollywood ending” that gives us something to aspire to, a pleasant thought to occupy the vacancy of the daily grind. I doubt totaling a Genesis GV80 in a 45 mph speed zone is the lasting thought Woods wants of himself.
If someone told me today that this was the last column I’d ever write for The Daily, I’d be utterly disheartened. I love expressing my opinions through written words and have done it for the past five years of my life. It’s become ingrained in my life, though not at the same level of intensity as how golf and Woods co-exist. Hence, I’d search for another credible, successful platform to voice my “hot takes.”
However, for the class of 2024, we do know what this feels like. All of our quintessential senior high school moments went from postponed to canceled in a whirlwind and all we could do is watch them vanish before our eyes. Does it bring me peace knowing there is more ahead in life? Possibly, but I will always feel as though there are loose ends that are unlikely to ever be tied up in my hometown. Granted, starting college in a virtual setting hasn’t helped.
Conversely, think about this year’s graduating class and the internships they had lined up this time last year. These pivotal opportunities are instrumental for life after college, yet they were nearly impossible to coordinate during the height of the pandemic. I know many seniors who scrambled throughout the fall semester to line up positions upon graduation, sacrificing everything else to do so.
Now, as we slowly return to normal this year, I hope that our lives are not abruptly halted again by this virus. In a similar sense, I would guess that Woods hopes his career comeback — if it transpires — is not to be further interrupted than it already has. Regardless, there is likely no peace in these goals, only the return of security in our respective normalities.
There is no peace in complacency. As students of the University of Michigan, we understand this simply by virtue of the college we chose. Now, we must work to make sure we sustain the momentum we created. Woods must work to do the same.
Legendary writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” Tiger Woods will do everything in his power to make sure his accident is not his final moment. We may not receive the chance to choose our endings, but we will refuse to be defined by the ones given to us.
Sam Woiteshek can be reached at email@example.com.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.
For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.