Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is Brandt Snedeker the Anti-Tiger?

With a Harding alum, Brandt Snedeker, holding the lead for 36-holes in the first round, I had a particular interest in the recent British Open.  Watching, I became struck by the media disparity between the leaders of the tournament, both during and after the event.        
          Obviously, Tiger Woods has garnered a great deal of media attention throughout his career, both as an incredible golfer, and as an incredibly poor husband who has shown bad decision-making on the course.  After finally disclosing his significant indiscretions as a husband, and having been chased from his home by his golf club-wielding wife, he seemed resolute and even somewhat indifferent with the press and the public.  It made for terrific press and people were fascinated.
          Snedeker, on the other hand, is by all accounts, what one would call, ‘a terrific guy.’  A native of Nashville, I have never met any of his alum peers from Harding or Montgomery Bell Academy (where he went to high school) or Vanderbilt who could find a cross-word to say about him.  Frankly, if your son were to become a professional athlete, Snedeker would likely be one you would hope he would emulate, both on, and off, the course.  The most significant press Snedeker has likely received was when he lost the lead at the 2008 Masters, came in 3rd and actually showed his disappointment by shedding tears afterwards.
          This, in an age, when athletes will lose a play-off game and you can very clearly see them joking and laughing on the sideline before the game is over – it speaks to a lack of emotion that once seemed to permeate sport and made Snedeker’s tears a source of great appreciation to those of us who appreciate an athlete’s caring and dedication.
          Nevertheless, once Snedeker relinquished his lead at the British Open, all cameras (and conversation) turned to Tiger, in the hopes that he would make a run, even while he was apparently heard swearing on the 11th tee.  This, after spitting on a green in Dubai earlier this year and kicking a club at the Masters.
         To be fair to the media folks, however, in this day and age, who really wants the cameras to follow Snedeker?  Granted, he’s a good-looking young man, but who wants to hear about his character in overcoming injuries early in his career, his lovely wife and happy marriage, his Vanderbilt degree or the $200,000 he has quietly raised for flood relief for his home town of Nashville?  The cameras will likely not catch him cursing, spitting or kicking a club, and the hopes of catching such fare (coupled with his heinous outfits) led the cameras to pan to an irrelevant John Daly.
          In the end, the ticker on ESPN showed, “Ernie Els in 1st, Adam Scott in 2nd and Tiger Woods tied for 3rd” with no mention of who he tied with.  The shame is that with so few really good character guys for our young people to follow in sports, athletes such as Snedeker should be built up and celebrated as role models and leaders.
        Perhaps at his next tournament Snedeker should over imbibe and trash a hotel room or two to garner some attention, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen.