Tiger Woods did not win the Masters this weekend. Adam Scott did. Scott beat Argentinean Ángel Cabrera on the second hole of a sudden death playoff, making him the first Australian to win golf’s most prestigious event.
Woods, meanwhile, finished tied for fourth.
Although his failure to win doesn’t make him any less of a person, when one sees a Nike ad like this one celebrating Woods’ world number one ranking, a title he last held two-and-a-half-year ago, one has to wonder…if winning takes care of everything, what does losing do?
We live in a culture where athletes are treated like demigods, where sports teams have cult followings and where you’re considered abnormal if you don’t play high school football.
To be sure, sports can do a lot of good. They can inspire us. They can teach us teamwork and discipline. They can teach us the importance of being healthy. And they can teach us how to overcome adversity.
But too many Americans make sports their number one priority. Indeed, too many Americans spend their Friday nights binge drinking at the local watering hole while watching the big game instead of spending time with their family. Too many Americans spend Saturday morning tailgating and eating inordinate amounts of food instead of treating their bodies like temples of the Holy Spirit. And too many Americans spend their Sunday evenings watching NFL triple-headers and indulging on pizza and beer instead of relaxing with their kids and keeping the Sabbath holy.
Now, I am a huge fan of Notre Dame football and Detroit Tigers baseball, but I don’t let sports run my life. When we spend too much time focusing only on sports, we move God from the center of our life to the sideline of our life. As Blessed John Paul II said in 1987, sports are important for “guaranteeing the balance and total well-being of the person,” but “if sport is reduced to the cult of the human body” it “would lose its true significance” and could become “harmful” to our “full growth as human persons.”
Although Nike received a tidal wave of criticism for its ad, Woods stood by it, declaring in a press conference that the slogan “winning takes care of everything” is “something I’ve always said since I first turned pro.”
To be sure, winning might repair Woods’ image with fans longing to see his theatrics on the golf course. And winning might compel corporations to ask him to sponsor their products once again. But winning won’t take care of his relationship with his former wife, who divorced him in 2010 after learning Woods had been cheating on her throughout their six-year marriage. Winning won’t repair the emotional scarring his infidelity inflicted on his two young children. And winning won’t undue the pain and humiliation his affairs put his extended family and close friends through.
Winning might take care of some things, but it doesn’t take care of the things that truly matter. We as a nation need to realize that. We as a nation need to understand sports can only do so much. We as a nation need to put God back at the center of our lives. Because only God can take care of everything.