Michelle Wie ain't no Ali
Some time ago, I wrote a column supporting the choices that Michelle Wie had been making, to play against the men and so forth, but I think the last week has shown, she just doesn’t have the heart of a champion.
Female athletes develop sooner than men, and if we compare her to the young boxer Cassius Clay (Ali) when he stepped into the ring with Sonny Liston, the most feared boxer of his time, and after beating Liston to the punch and surviving some toxin in his eyes, beat Liston so thoroughly that Liston simply sat on his stool at the beginning of the 7th round, a beaten man.
Today, it is Wie that has not stepped back into the fight all by herself. I just don’t see how an athlete can so completely show “no class” as Annika put it, or guts and find her way back to command of the most mental of all games.
After BSing the press and all of us, that the dreaded 88 wasn’t on her mind when she withdrew last week, it was clear to all observers that indeed, the LPGA and her agent all conspired to get her out of there, or the cash cow would not be around for future ‘07 events. And at this stage there is no retreat, to find someone she can beat. At this point, she couldn’t beat most club champions around the country. And her credibility as a player and a person are in serious question.
But, the BIG question in my view is not her talent, it is her heart. Muhammad Ali, was banned from his sport during his prime, only to come back and beat George Foreman in Africa, and later, go on to some of his greatest victories. At that stage in his career, it was not his skills, but his head/heart that led to those victories.
As we review the careers of all great champions, from Bobby Jones, to Byron Nelson, to Ben Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer and Tiger, what is clear in all cases, is not just their talent, but their desire, the courage, their heart, and yes, more than a touch of “class.”
My mother always used to tell me, “you can’t buy class,” and she is right. Wie has the money, but to date, she has shown “no class” and no respect for the sport that has made her rich and famous. The uphill climb to “earn it” is going to be a tall one and this last week, may become the defining moment in her short career. I hope it isn’t, but boy, if you are NIKE, you can’t want to be associated with a loser with no class. OUCH!
|« Super Stroke Grip Leads Choi to Victory at ATT National||Old Tom Morris Meets Tad Moore »|
The point being made is NOT a comparison of golf to boxing, but a look at the charactersitics of being a champion. In this case, the writer chose a boxer. I know it's a complicated thought process for you to grasp.
Had I wished to make a differentiation between "the sweet science, or the noble art" and grand ol' tradition, I would have pointed out that Tiger, after smoking the field in his first Master's victory at Augusta, didn't pop out of the signing of his card, jump on the ropes, and yell..."I am the Greatest!" The press did it for him. And without using Ali as my metaphorical champion, I would have had such fun alliteration in my headline.
Jim C's Mother must have told him he's the greatest and he believe's it
It is stifling difficult, to the point of walking off and feeling like you’ve got 12 rounds with Ali,’’ Paul Goydos said.
You never explained why Ali was banned from boxing, nor why he was reinstated. He said no to the draft. He was convicted, banned from boing, appealed his conviction, and finally had his conviction overturned by the Supreme Court. The Court accepted Ali's argument that as a Moslem who did not believe in any wars except for Moslem Holy War, he was essentially no different than a total pacifist. You can argue that the ruling had the effect of correcting an injustice that had been done to Ali, but the reversal of his conviction and his reinstatement in boxing was based upon some monumental BS, and I think that monumental BS argued before and accepted by the Supreme Court is a lot more serious than a teenagers comments in a press conference.
And as far as cash cow is concerned, don't you think Ali was paid a lot more as a boxer than he would have been paid as a soldier.
I didn't address Ali's ban or the reasons as it wasn't relevant to the point relating to the heart of a Champion. And I would agree with you that BS argued before the Supreme Court is more important historically than Ms. Wie's or any athletes comments might be. But Wie's lack of awareness regarding her true place in the game, and her total lack of authenticity or ethics is my issue with her as it relates to her potential for accomplishment in a game that requires mental toughness, honest courage, and an ability to compete under pressure...all of which she has shown a distinct lack of this past year or so.
As for "cash cow" and Ali making more money boxing...as you point out, during the ban, he made nothing, so he would have made "more" as a soldier.
How many of us are born with a great heart? As Johnny Clegg and Savukka sing, "I'm searching for the spirit of the great heart, to hold and keep me dry, I'm searching for the spirit of the great heart, under African skies..." Wie has lived a charmed life, born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She has not suffered the racism that Tiger did in SoCal, when he could not play certain courses. She attended a privileged, private school, while Tiger went public (ever read the great book by his high school coach?) The injuries just might be her emotional challenge to her heart. I hope that she finds her own self amid the entourage, and reclaims her potential.
Comments are closed for this post.