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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tiger Woods' dad is very ill. He's in a hospital, suffering from prostate cancer. This is very sad news, but there is a very nice story in the April 3 New York Times about how Tiger was raised by his dad and mom. As the headline notes, their goal was "Raising a Child First, Then a Champion." The article notes that Tida and Earl Woods's goal was "not to raise the world's greatest golfer...it was to rear a child who was free from worry." The reporter, interviewed Rudy Duran, Woods's golf instructor from ages 5 to 10. According to the article,
When he was 7 or 8, Tiger was already an amazing player, but there was no question in my mind that if he came home and said he wanted to play the piano, there would have been no anxiety by his parents," Duran said last week in a telephone interview. "They put no extra value on playing golf. Tiger was the motivated one, and Earl and Tida were great at providing an environment of unconditional love, an environment where he could excel. They were very consistent in their reaction, whether Tiger finished first in a tournament or 10th."

Please note the phrase "unconditional love." In my five years as a Little League coach, I have too often seen the reverse of this situation. In these unfortunate cases, the parent (usually the dad) is communicating anxiety about the child's performance. The result: the child feels the anxiety and performs poorly. We wish the best for Earl Woods. Let his fine handling of his gifted son be an example to all of us.

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