Thursday, October 4, 2012

Is Phil Mickelson the Most Decent Sports Figure Ever – Yes

Whoever Is In Second Place is Not Even Close

The past weekend was a great one for sports fans.  The baseball season is in its ending phase, and NFL has started with some rocking games and the golf season ended with one of the great competitions in sports, the Ryder Cup.  The Ryder Cup is fantastic because it takes a sport composed of individual competition and turns it into a team competition.  And the players, who make some but not a whole lot of money, (relatively speaking of course) exhibit great enjoyment and emotion.

The featured story of the 212 Ryder Cup is the comeback win of the European team.  But the real story is golfer Phil Mickelson.  Playing late in the day on Sunday Mr. Mickelson needed only to win his match to give America the win.  And on the 17th hole his opponent, Britain’s Justin Rose had a 35 foot tricky down hill putt.  Which he made.  As the camera turned to Mr. Mickelson the joy of seeing a great shot permeated his face, he grinned and laughed and shot his opponent a big thumbs up. 

But after the tournament the U. S. Captain, Davis Love was being criticized for not playing Mr. Mickelson in every match.  This is what happened.

when Love was asked to explain why he chose to bench Phil Mickelson and Bradley for Saturday’s best-ball format even though they were undefeated as a team and had had a relatively light workload, having been extended to 44 holes through three matches.

Love was four sentences into his answer when Mickelson grabbed his microphone and interrupted. “Hold on one sec, Davis,” he began: “As far as playing Keegan and I, you need to hear something. Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing in the afternoon, and we said on the first tee, we are going to put everything we have into this one match, because we are not playing the afternoon.”

Mickelson continued: “And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and I said, ‘Listen, you’re seeing our best. You cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you’re going to get pressure, because we’re playing so good. But we have other guys that are dying to get out there, and we have mentally put everything into this match. We won’t have anything later, and so you need to stay to our plan.’ ”

It is hard to imagine any other athlete not whining and crying if he were removed from the game, so in the area of professional sports what Mr. Mickelson did was almost unprecedented, and certainly unexpected.  It was the act of a man whose decency and character is probably greater than anyone else playing that game, or any other game.

As for the other star of professional golf, Tiger Woods, well Mr. Woods did not win a match and as far as anyone knows did not make a defining statement after the tournament.

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