It is a question I have asked myself many times since, just after Thanksgiving dinner, I was informed by CNN that he had mistakenly assumed a fire hydrant near his home was made of plastic. Since that moment, I have been repeatedly bombarded by who he has had affairs with and what might occur if he further delayed his golf career.
This is where I begin to care. Suppose Woods didn’t decide to return this week to golf. Would that mean that there might be a few more moms, dads, uncles, or aunts taking some young child turkey hunting or fishing this weekend? Or am I being too simpleminded?
But let’s assume I want to blame Woods on the decreasing amount of hunters and anglers. I can’t say it’s totally his fault, but he sure hasn’t helped the cause by making golf look so easy, easy enough for any Joe with four hours, a case of beer, a sleeve of balls, and a credit card to take a crack at it. What also hasn’t helped is that, when looking for a role model, athletes like Woods are mainly what young people see. Do you remember Woods juggling a golf ball from the end of a pitching wedge for Nike? Or watching baskeball player Lebron James flying through the air toward the basketball rim for a dunk?
Most people have seen these, because the talents of these professionals are shone to us regardless of the channels we watch. But rarely do we see how accurate a bass angler can be casting a topwater plug, or how a good wingshooter can down bird after bird on a pheasant hunt. For those of us who have seen these moments in person, they are as impressive as a baseball leaving Wrigley Field. But unless we’re watching Versus or the Outdoor Channel, we rarely see anything comparable to these mainstream athletes.
And the mainstream public, for some reason, has long since decided that they are not looking for a role model whose principal job is to kill or catch. A few people have heard of Kevin Van Dam, and a selected few others know Patrick McManus, but for some reason few kids will ever have a role model who carries a rod and reel to work everyday.
So I’m at a loss. Maybe one day I’ll sit senior editor Jon Farrar down to tell me when things changed. When it was no longer common to see two young friends walking down the street with each other, shotguns in hand, or when your hero as a young boy could hit a baseball out of Fenway Park and also catch a fish or two.
Until then, I guess I’ll have to hope Woods makes a Tiger-like comeback, and in a moment of pure elation after winning his 75th Masters, tells everyone that because he has once again conquered golf’s greatest challenge he has to direct his incomparable drive in a more difficult direction – fly fishing.