Rooting for Tiger: It’s your call

Rooting for Tiger: It’s your call
April 8, 2013, 3:00 pm
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I read an interesting article in Sports Illustrated by Michael Bamberger. The topic boiled down to this: Should we/do you root for Tiger Woods? A lot of great points were made, one of them being that Tiger’s chasing Jack Nicklaus and that elusive record of 18 major championships feels a lot like Hank Aaron chasing Babe Ruth for his home run record.

It struck me that those of us in the Bay Area have a different but similar comparison/conflict as we choose whether to pull for Tiger’s first Masters title and green jacket since 2005. Tiger chasing Jack feels a lot to me like Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron. The classy legend and the heavily scarred modern day player. Giants fans knew the stigma attached to Bonds, but, for the most part, looked past it and cheered for home runs.

Tiger fans appear to do the same -- they cheer for good golf.

[GOLFCHANNEL: The Masters Tournament coverage]

There are differences, of course. The reasons to dislike Tiger are enhanced by his off-fairway activities. Cheating on his wife and young family did not exactly line up with his publicity machine of an image. Similarly, Bonds’ low placement on the likeability chart was topped by the nagging sense that he cheated the game.

Neither guy is particularly friendly, but that may be a mitigating factor. Bonds was a jerk to the media and Tiger likes to yell obscenities after bad shots, but those aren’t the main reasons people choose to root against them.

Tiger is getting a chance to change his narrative; he can still forge a long career after his issues were aired in public. Bonds ended his career under a cloud, without the same chance for redemption. He now appears in public mostly in San Francisco, either for court hearings or at AT&T Park, where his loyal contingent of fans still cheer for him.

The positives for both, of course, came on the field of play. Both produced pure magic. Their feats were and are intoxicating. Choose to root against them, and you may miss the feeling of innocent joy that, in many ways, only sports can deliver. Watching dominant players do the seemingly impossible and seeing them impose their will on opponents makes fans appreciate what is and isn’t possible.

As Tiger continues to look like he’s back, the choice is yours to cheer or jeer. For a Giants fan, it may be a familiar feeling.

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