Monday, April 13, 2015

What Makes a Real Winner

Behind the new green jacket owned by new Masters Champion Jordan Spieth, behind the Under Armour clothing head-to-toe, beyond the millions he has won on the course and the millions more he is going to make in the future lies the real reason Spieth is a "major" winner.

It's was mentioned in passing that Jordan has a cognitively-disabled 14-year old sister with whom he is very close.  His parents and those on his "team" have all mentioned how much Ellie keeps Jordan grounded.  How her condition helps to keep what he accomplishes in life in perspective.  As one writer pointed out, she will be as excited about him winning the Masters as she was that he finished second in Houston two weeks ago or when he finished second the week before that in San Antonio.

Saturday was apparently "National Sibling Day" (shout out to my sister, Jenni)--so it was fitting that the child prodigy with the special needs sister that got most of the family's attention was doing so well on such a huge stage.

I wonder how different Tiger Woods would have turned out if he had a sister like Ellie Spieth.  If perhaps Earl Woods would have had to devote time to another child (he does have another son by a different woman--but he was really not much of the Woods family life when Tiger was young) instead of treating Eldrick as God's greatest gift to sport and humanity.

Jordan Spieth is humble to a fault, makes times for fans, doesn't treat media obligations like they are the greatest inconvenience in the world and refers to his elders and some older players on the Tour as "Mister".  Tiger, from the day he turned professional treated opponents, fans and media members as they were beneath him.  Obstacles to block out  or crush on the way to "fulfilling his destiny".  Of course we know what has happened in the past 5 or 6 years that have finally brought some humility to Tiger.  He even signed some autographs at Augusta National last week and it was great to see him interacting with his kids on the driving range and during the Par 3 Contest.

We like to use the term "Born Winner" in sports to describe someone who seems to be great from the first day they step onto the field, the court or the ice.  But as Jordan Spieth has known from the age of seven--and perhaps Tiger Woods is learning know as a middle aged man--you have to learn how to be a real winner.  And sometimes the "teacher" isn't a high-paid coach who yells a lot.

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