Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009

Tiger Woods

We are fortunate to live in the Tiger Woods era. Tiger, 33, is a model for how athletes should conduct themselves. He respects the legends who came before him, like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. He knows the history of his sport. He handles himself with class, and he's articulate. There's no silly talk in public from Tiger. When he speaks, people listen.

That is an important part of why he's an idol for so many young athletes and why adults get giddy when they see him. They're not just awed by his great wins; they admire him as a person.

You rarely see an athlete who single-handedly changes an entire sport. When Tiger couldn't play last year because of an injury, golf ratings suffered. He has changed the way golfers train and prepare themselves and has brought huge numbers of new fans to the sport, including me. I never followed golf when I was younger. Now I do.

When I was starting my foundation, I looked to Tiger for lessons on how philanthropy should be done. His focus on kids helped inspire my decision to also focus on children's causes. His philanthropic efforts are really unbelievable, and I plan to follow his example.

Tiger has become a close friend, and people would be surprised that under that serious game face is a big kid who loves to play jokes and have a good time. I think having balance is key to maintaining his incredible level of intensity. Hopefully we'll get to follow Tiger in great form for at least 15 more years. We should all enjoy it. We may never see a golfer like this again.

Federer, who was the top-ranked tennis player in the world for a record 237 consecutive weeks, has won 13 Grand Slam singles titles