Posted Feb 04 2010, 04:29 PM by Cathy Erickson
I have been thinking a lot about spirit lately...it's popped up in my world recently and now it's been bouncing around in my head. What I have been realizing is the word spirit has a lot of different meanings when you start to think about it. I looked up spirit in the dictionary and found over 15 definitions! WOW!
Spirit first popped into my brain as I was thinking about the upcoming winter Olympics. As a curler, I'm very excited about following the men's and women's curling teams compete for gold in Vancouver. These athletes are folks who embody the phrase Olympic Spirit. These men and women (many who are from Minnesota!) took their passion for the sport and sacrificed time from their jobs and families to represent the United States on a global level. What an honor! I know curling means little or nothing to most people in the US, but for those of us who have it in our blood, there is an enthusiasm percolating as we get closer to competition time. I hope everyone can capture a little Olympic spirit as the countdown to Vancouver draws near.
I ran into spirit again as I have been reading about the uproar regarding the Ping Eye 2 wedge debate and Phil Mickelson. I'll admit I haven't really followed this story that much, but what I think is going on is that due to a loophole that resulted from a lawsuit many years ago, the Ping Eye 2 irons are still "legal" on tour even though they do not conform to the new groove standards set for 2010.
Just like the Tiger "controversy", it seems like everyone and their brother has an opinion on whether bringing back some old school Pings is right or not. I have read from more than one person that even though it is perfectly legal to use these clubs, Phil (or anyone else for that matter) using Ping wedges is going against "the spirit of the rule"...and that is tantamount to cheating.
I've had to ponder this accusation for awhile, but what it comes down to to me is that no player has any real advantage against another because every player can get their hands on some Ping Eye 2's if they really wanted to (call me if you need some!!). Had it been that there were only 2 sets left in the world and Phil had one of them, well, I might reconsider my support if he chose to use them, but since that's not the case, I don't think anyone has the right to call him a cheater. As for going against the "spirit of the rule", I'm torn...it's clear these clubs don't conform, so it does seem that if the loophole is used the intent is to not follow the original rule. So while I don't think Phil is a cheater, I do wonder about his motivation to use clubs that wouldn't normally pass the muster.
Just yesterday I read a short article about a former hockey player who lives in Minnesota. He was on the Olympic hockey team that was coined "the miracle on ice" in Lake Placid against the Russians. The part of the article that caught my attention was when he explained why he gave up hockey not long after the Olympics. Back then, playing professional hockey was not nearly as lucrative as it is now. He had a passion and spirit for the game, but it was pretty clear it might not be able pay the bills, especially if he got hurt. He wondered what path he might have taken if the salaries were like they are now back then.
Sometimes I find myself thinking that all of the money that is thrown at the stars on the golf course (and in all sports) has in some ways suffocated the spirit that lies at the root of doing something we love.
Have the scales tipped so much that Tour Players can't see how much, we, the fans, would love just to share in the spirit of the game with them? Is golf really a job to them and not a joy?
Has technology become so important that we've lost what "feel" and instinct is? Have we become slaves to grooves, shafts, GPS's, Pro-V's, and titanium? When I think of spirit in golf my brain immediately goes to Seve - the instinct, the creativeness, the feel that he had didn't come from technology, but from passion. I wish we had more Seve's.
Golf seems to be in a funk right now and I think we need some spirit to bust out and remind us why we love this game. Let's forget about grooves and loopholes, cheating and money, and focus on the feeling that comes with hitting the perfect shot...or the sound of a golf ball finding its way to the bottom of the cup...or getting to spend the day with great friends...or enjoying the challenge that is always waiting for us on the first tee.
One of the things I love most about golf is that every time we play we have the opportunity to quench and revitalize our spirit. And since I won't be finding a club in my hands for a few months still, I hope those that are able will take my spirit with them the next time they find themselves on the golf course. Go find your spirit!
Filed under: Olympics, Curling, Golf, spirit, Eye2, Ping, hockey
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