One of the constant themes here is the power of narrative in sports. We like a good, clean narrative. Take Tiger Woods. Let’s say Woods never wins another major championship. I think he will win again, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that he does not. What will the narrative be?
It will be this: Tiger Woods was well on his way to becoming the greatest golfer who ever lived when his personal life spiraled out control, and he never recovered from that.
Would that be the whole story? No, I don’t think so. I’m not sure that it would even be the major part of the story. If Tiger Woods never wins another major it will be because he hit his mid-30s, when most golfers begin to lose their game, because his knee never came all the way back, because his putts stopped dropping (as they tend to do), because talented younger golfers came along, because equipment changes flattened his advantages, because … because … because … the world is more complicated than any single line. Was Tiger Woods’ six-month romp through the tabloids devastating? I have no doubt. Did it play a role in his slump? I have no doubt. But there are a thousand other factors flying around here.