The British Open and the Seeds of Winning Character

I watched the British Open golf tournament  over the weekend because I read that Tiger Woods was off to a great start and had a real shot at winning his first major since  the U.S. Open in 2008.  By Sunday, however, Tiger was flailing away in a sand trap and the final contest came down to a young Aussie named Adam Scott looking for his first win in a major tournament  and the veteran Ernie Els, a legendary South African golfer who had won the British Open ten years ago and had started this year at odds of 45-1.

During a weekend when the news was focusing on a 24 year old frustrated Doctoral student  turned drop out and vengeful  killer in Colorado, it was so calming to see a young golfer  and a seasoned player tee off with great respect for each other, despite the outcome.  In the end, Tiger, one of the early favorites, lost the limelight to a love fest between an Aussie and a South African who both showed remarkable grace during the tense final play.  In accepting his second British Open trophy,  Els saluted his opponent and said he knew Scott would win many majors ahead in his career.  The crowd loved both of them.

We need to remind ourselves in times of national tragedy when evil seems to triumph, that the world stage is full of aggressive young men and women like Scott who take defeat well and go on – or like Tiger, who fall tragically from grace and accept the pain of a slow path back while the world still cheers him on.  How do we help the troubled, isolated souls like James Holmes to accept the often humiliating challenges of the world, either in sports or life?  Many politicians and commentators over the weekend were suggesting  that with assault gun legislation unlikely in the current political climate, perhaps we need to  focus on finally figuring out which troubled youngsters will turn to guns.  We can’t afford to ignore them.

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