Friday, July 27, 2007

Don't Blame Michelle Wie

Sometimes I think most of us forget how poor our judgment was at 17 years old. I can remember meeting up with friends in my high school parking lot on a Saturday night, driving into the worst part of Hartford Connecticut to buy beer and drinking it in my school parking lot before we figured out to go. As an adult, I would consider that poor judgment and basically stupid. I realize now that I was very lucky that I did not get caught. However, I was not a stupid teen but I was a normal kid doing stupid teen things. My parents also dictated a lot to me and influenced my judgment and corrected me on a lot of things. Most kids enjoy a similar experience growing up. There are some exceptions - kids from the great depression, kids from broken homes who have to fend for themselves, etc. However, for the sake of this rant let's assume that Michelle Wie has it pretty good. I am fairly sure she did not buy golf lessons and greens fees with a paper route, food stamps, and 5 cent soda can redemptions. She had a pretty comfortable home life like me.

Michelle is dealing with a lot right now, injuries, missed cuts, negative media attention and criticism from other golfers. I blame her parents for a lot of these issues. A professional sports career or a great career of any sort is a marathon not a sprint. Tiger played a couple of years of the U.S. Amateur and a year at Stamford before going pro. Michael Jordan played college hoops, and Kobe Bryant was not the MVP in his first year. It appears that Michelle Wie's management team made a lot of poor decisions on her behalf and may have done a lot of damage. Let's not forget she is a 17 year old girl and she has the emotions and feelings of a 17 year old girl - she is not a robot and all of this must be hard for her. She did not make the decision to go pro at 15 by herself, she did not pick up the phone and demand sponsors exemptions into men's events only to miss cuts. She did not make the decision to pursue PGA greatness before establishing herself as an LPGA great. Somebody made these decisions with her. However, only Michelle Wie feels the embarrassment and emotions that comes with these events, missed cuts, losses, and media scrutiny coupled with the insecurity and emotions that a teenage girl already feels. I feel really badly for her right now. She is a kid who has been badly mismanaged.

Because Ms. Wie is a celebrity we forget her age and we also forget that behind her there is a family, sponsors, and management that dictate where she goes, what she does, and where she plays. The next time Michelle Wie says something to the media that makes you roll your eyes, or she misses a cut, or has a questionable injury think about what you were doing at 17 years old and then give her a break. She is a victim of those around her.

I hope that Michelle Wie has the opportunity to meet Jennifer Capriatti one day. Jennifer was a teen sensation in tennis and in her formative years she took a break and did some of the things that the rest of us did as teens. She got caught. I got caught too. However, my picture was not in People Magazine when I got caught. Jennifer resurrected her career on her own terms and played some great tennis and she seemed really happy doing it. I noticed when Jennifer Capriatti had her comeback I did not see her dad parked behind her at the press conferences anymore.

Good luck Michelle. I hope that you are happy. If you are not, I hope that you find it because you are 17 and you deserve nothing but happiness.

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