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Sports Authority

Mazurek: Be cognizant of athletes’ faults

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Just over one week later and most people I talk to still think The Masters ended with a whimper, not a bang.

Patrick Reed winning was boring. No one knows who he is. I wish Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy had won. So on and so forth.

Some of you may be able to guess where this is going, but as always with these types of conversations about golf, Tiger Woods always comes up.

“Tiger Woods is good for golf” is usually how the mantra goes. And there’s some truth in that. Or, rather, “Tiger Woods is popular” might be a better way to phrase that statement.

There’s no denying that Woods moves the needle. If he’s in a tournament, TV ratings skyrocket. If he ever manages to hold a 54-hole lead in a major tournament, TV ratings may just explode.

It’s clear Woods is extremely popular and well-liked by even the most casual fans of golf. But should he be?

Most of Woods’ popularity came from his unprecedented success in the early stages of his career. From 1999-2002, Woods won a whopping seven major tournaments. And by 2008, he had 14 major victories, just a few short of Jack Nicklaus.

But that’s when trouble came. In 2009, Woods admitted to cheating on his wife and took a leave of absence. Nearly a dozen women claimed to have had a relationship with Woods.

Now, if you’re a fan of Woods, an extramarital affair can be forgivable — personally, 11 or 12 seems excessive, but hey, people make mistakes. To his credit, Woods admitted his indiscretions and moved on as best he could. If you remained a fan of Woods after that episode, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

However, Woods’ latest trip off the deep end is less-easily forgotten. In May of 2017, Woods was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and agreed to complete a DUI offender program, was ordered to do community service and was put on probation.

Yet, people still flock to see him and root for him just as hard as ever.

That’s sad. At least with his affairs, the only things broken were hearts. With his DUI charge, however, lives were at risk. Would Woods still have undying support from his fans if he had killed someone while intoxicated behind the wheel?

It’s hard to disown beloved athletes when they commit indiscretions. It’s far easier to say they made a one-time mistake or that you can support them as a fan without supporting their personal life.

But the more we as fans choose to ignore poor choices by star athletes, the worse off we all are. For instance, I am a Chicago Cubs fan. Yet, a part of the 2016 World Series win will be marred by the fact the team traded for Aroldis Chapman, who was accused of domestic violence against his girlfriend.

As I write this, the San Francisco 49ers have still not released linebacker Reuben Foster after Foster was charged with felony assault against his girlfriend.

Sadly, I could continue listing examples of great athletes with checkered pasts until the cows come home. I focus on Tiger Woods because he is one of the most visible cases of this.

I don’t want to tell you who you should or shouldn’t root for. But at least be cognizant of your favorite players’ faults. If we continue to give Tiger Woods a pass, it only encourages others to act recklessly like he did and expect no consequences. If we fail to speak out when our favorite teams sign players with legal problems, it will keep happening.

No one is perfect. But golf can do much better than Tiger Woods.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

Contact Marek