Mar 3, 2013

Rory McIlroy's Sudden Secession & Our Passion for Ever Younger Players

Rory McIlroy                   photo credit: mirsasha via photopin cc

I think it's interesting that we push for - and then idolize - ever more youthful champions

In fact, we're so quick to abandon our "teen phenoms" for "pre-teen phenoms" and discard our "young guns" for "younger guns" that a number of today's top players are still shy of the quarter century mark... and most have been competing relentlessly since they were tiny tots.  

It's exhilarating to watch a winning player who seems fearless.  Youth, by its very nature, will often beget fearlessness.  So our passion for these precocious pros is rather easily understood ...and it only adds to the impressiveness factor when poise and maturity are tacked on to the fearlessness.  The young player possessing that particular triad of qualities is sure to become an immediate star.

With that kind of stardom, however, comes corresponding (and often unrealistic) expectations; we feel we've finally found a very young person who'll consistently offer us a winning game and exemplary behavior, and when the expectations are not met, we'll likely forget about our lapsed savior's extreme youth... or the fact that he may have had to miss out on a life-lesson or two in his singular quest to become so good, so fast. 

For the wow factor, we want our athletes to be ever younger, but the reality is that lack of life experience will often result in questionable decisions, so should Rory McIlroy's sudden secession halfway through Friday's second round at the Honda Classic be as shocking as some are making it out to be?  After all young people make questionable decisions all the time and neuroscientists now agree that the human brain is not fully mature until at least age 25

Jack Nicklaus deftly distilled the current "Rory Story" this way: "I think he's a little frustrated, and he's frustrated at himself right now," later adding, " ...if he had waited five more minutes he wouldn't have done that."  I agree but I think that if we want our sports stars to attain lofty heights at increasingly younger ages we've got to figure that... on occasion... they won't want to wait that five more minutes. 

5 comments:

  1. We should have seen that one coming. The stress of being W#1, the forced rivalry with Woods, the high profile gf and the pressure to decide btw Northern Ireland & Ireland for the Olympics to name just a few factors. Then as you alluded to, he probably never got to hone his critical thinking skills for anything other than golf because he's been endlessly practicing for all his young life. Media & fans should just cut him some slack and let him get his mojo back.

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  2. well in womens tennis back in the dayz i was a fan it seemed sixteen was retirement age for tennis tournament pro women until some played on successfully thereafter

    today its all about the money and these marketable brand names have no down time so of course every next five minutes is another photo-op promo production

    an extra two minutes in the looooo costs a loss of $27,ooo (........unless they sell something in the WC.........)

    frankDftliquordaleSOfla33316

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  3. I was thinking about just what you're saying Frank. Since the beginning of the year during the brief periods of time he wasn't playing Rory signed a $250,000 deal with Nike, made a couple of TV commercials, traveled around the world with his beautiful, high profile (and possibly high maintenance?) girlfriend, and as Langston mentioned spent time agonising over whether to play for Great Britain or Ireland at the 2016 Olympics. Presumably one thing he didn't do was go to the dentist.

    I'm guessing he's beyond burnt out right now and probably questioning a lot of things. As a fan I hope he finds the right person or people to help him put things into perspective.

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  4. well ASHGOLF let's compare, say GENE SARAZEN, or BOBBY JONES, to rory at a similar age..........per WIKI excerpt....."Sarazen won his first major championships – the 1922 U.S. Open and PGA Championship – at age 20. He was a contemporary and great rival of Bobby Jones, who was born in the same year; Sarazen also had many great battles with Walter Hagen, who was about ten years older. Sarazen, Jones, and Hagen were the world's dominant players during the 1920s"

    i think we will still be talking about sarazen, jones, hagen et al long into the future

    do you think ANYONE will remember rory in 2101 ?

    many don't even recall faldo anymore, except for those who follow his college aged girlfriends trails, and faldo was about as big as it gets brand-wise

    i don't blame rory or anyone in his position...it's toooo much money to pass up


    frankDftliquordaleSOfla33316

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  5. Michelle Wie comes to my mind whenever I hear about a young golfer being pushed too hard and/or having a meltdown. After gaining early fame as a golf prodigy, she struggled with the pressure and I think it hurt here in the end. Hopefully this'll be a wakeup call for Rory.

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