Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

05 July 2008

Why Tiger Woods' Miracle at the US Open is Horrible News for Parents

Welcome readers from the 61st Carnival of Feminists!

Days after Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open columns sprung up about his amazing feat especially after it was revealed that his next appearance would be in the operation room to repair a torn ACL:

As great as Woods was in winning the most important major golf tournament of the year, he just got greater. We now know he gritted out all those big drives, made all those miraculous shots and holed all those magnificent putts on a knee that wasn't yet healed from April surgery. And on a leg with stress fractures in two places. - Christine Brennan, USA Today

“The diagnosis was not to play in the U.S. Open,” Hank Haney, Tiger’s swing coach, said Monday before chuckling. “There was no way he wasn’t playing the U.S. Open.”

That’s what makes Tiger, Tiger. His ferocious competitive streak – which in this case may prove harmful – coupled with his intense mental strength allowed him to not only proceed when he shouldn’t have, but actually thrive. - Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Yes, there was hemming and hawing on the sports pages about whether or not Tiger should had played at all. But it was more related to his legacy...whether he would surpass Jack Nicholson for Golf King or not. Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times even reminded us that Tiger's feat is not unique:

You think Tiger Woods had it rough playing golf with an injured knee? Try vaulting on a severely sprained ankle -- and sticking the landing. Oh, how quickly we forget.

Twelve years have passed since Kerri Strug's captivating performance during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Remember her terrific vault and landing, followed closely by a look that said, ''I'm in excruciating pain,'' followed closely by her collapse onto the mat?

Just weeks before this "superhuman" display of athletic ability the NYTimes had us parents in a frenzy over our daughters' ACLs:

Janelle was one of the best players on a very good high-school team, the Lady Raiders of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. A midfielder and a 2007 first-team, all-Broward-County selection, she had both a sophistication and a fury to her game — she could adroitly put a pass right on the foot of a teammate to set up a goal, and a moment later risk a bone-jarring collision by leaping into the air to head a contested ball.

That she was playing at all on this day, though, was a testament not to her talent but rather to her high threshold for pain, fierce independence and formidable powers of persuasion. Janelle returned to action a little more than five months after having an operation to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L., in her right knee. And just 20 months before that, she suffered the same injury to her other knee.

There was a lot of skittishness around the blogosphere about this story. Was it a thinly veiled attempt to drag girls and women back to the time when even running was bad for our reproductive organs? Or a simple call to action, without the call, for parents to wake-up and smell the Icy/Hot?

So where does this leave us parents? Especially those of us with athletic girls, which I am a member of that club. Do we let them see sportscaster after sportswriter bow down at the Temple of Tiger and his amazing ability to win on a torn ACL? Do we afterwards tell them that it's ok for a man to do that and not "you, young lady. You're sitting out of your soccer tourney." Will we get back-up from their coaches? Or do we fall back on the "when you're an adult, you make your own choices," line again?

I'm a huge sports fan...HUGE. But I recall watching my classmates in high school play thru injuries, I see Hall of Fame football players limp thru Chicago, and my knees hurt like hell some days. Do I want that for my girl? Hell no. Do I want her to sit out because she might get hurt? HELL NO.

A middle ground needs to be found, settled, and established. I'm not talking laws here, I'm talking about parents being parents. We should not laud acts such as Tiger Woods at the US Open, Kerri Strug at the Olympics, or Curt Shilling's bloody sock. We should laud the Cubs for putting Zambrano on the 15-day disabled list despite his displeasure and every other player who sits out "just in case." Yes, championships will push us to do things we might not do during the regular season, but we need to ask what is best for the person. Will they be able to walk in 10 years? Will a 15-year-old boy hide his injury to be like Mike? Not just "will we win?" A lot of time and money has been spent to discuss steroids in sports and the way our kids look at it. We need to start talking about cortisone shots and playing on not just bum knees, but torn, broken knees.

Technorati tags: Title IX, sports, Tiger Woods, girls, ACL


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