A Tiger By The Tail

Just saw the new Tiger Woods commercial by Nike which is carefully orchestrated to ease Tiger’s re-entry into PGA Golf. Contrived? Absolutely. Will I ever respect Tiger Woods again? Absolutely not. However, there IS something in this ad which I think is valuable for Baseball Parents of teenage players, and which I intend to use going forward as a Baseball Dad. First, let me share where I’m at: The horror of being a parent to someone who is about to cross the Rubicon into the Teenage Years.

Matt is a very talented baseball player and honors student, and it has always been a pleasure to be his Dad first, buddy second, and coach third. Long ago, we dubbed his bedroom “The Clubhouse,” and many is the night over the years that I’ve hung out with him there after everything else is done, watching a favorite TV show with Moxie the “clubhouse cat” snuggled somewhere in between. Sometime along the way, probably a year or so ago, Matt began developing the ‘tween personality thing, with single-word answers to questions and becoming extra-reserved. That has continued along to the point now where he’s just about to become 13 in early June and already there’s no looking back.  Wish I could call a time-out with Father Time or the Umpire of Life, but as we all need to embrace what’s ahead, God help us.

The reason I digress is that the new Nike/Tiger Woods commercial fits perfectly with the new way I need to relate to Matt as a teenage baseball player. The audio track of the commercial features the previously-recored voice of Tiger’s deceased dad Earl asking him 3 key questions:

  1. I want to know what you were thinking
  2. I want to know how you are feeling
  3. I want to know if you learned anything

Notice that #1 is “What you were thinking,” not “what were you thinking.” When I heard this commercial on the radio, I was not distracted by the visuals and so I paid attention to the message. I thought it was so powerful because normally I can’t attend Matt’s practices (such as last night), but with North East Baseball he’s performing new stuff on a regular basis such as switch-hitting which he has always done well but been reluctant to utilize in game situations. This is the stuff that I have always known the Dirt Dog could do and had vision for him fulfilling his capabilities in the future, but as his dad I could not bring him there myself.

From now on, rather than play the 20-question game with Matt in order to extract unsatisfactory single-word answers, I am going to grab my own Tiger by the tail and ask him these questions instead. We’ll see where it goes…

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