By Ken Kaiserman
Editor In-Chief
Dare to be Happy
When they played the Masters Golf Tournament last month did anybody notice what happened in the final round of play? Sure, Angel Cabrera won, and the obvious thing that everybody probably did notice was that Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson, the world’s top two ranked golfers, played together. They both played great on the front nine after starting several strokes back, making heroic charges to pull within a stroke of the lead. Yet, both Michelson and Woods faded from contention finishing 5th and tied for 6th, respectively. It was the reactions that each had following their amazing day of golf that is most interesting.
Tiger and Phil in the 2009 Masters
In his post round interview, Phil gave the type of answer that we most often teach our children: “It was fun.” Mickelson went on and on about how well he played as he smiled for the cameras. His focus was on the positive things that he had accomplished that day, including a record-tying 30 on the front nine, finishing 5th overall, beating Tiger Woods for the round and making a solid run for the championship. In fact, his terrific five under par round of 67, if repeated for the four days of play would have won the tournament by a resounding 8 strokes over Angel Cabrera.
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
In contrast, Tiger Woods was disgusted with his effort. Of course, he also played well enough during the final round that a four day repeat performance would have made him the run-away 2009 Masters Champion. Yet, after bogeys on 17 and 18 left him tied for 6th, Woods did nothing but scowl for the cameras stating that his play for the day was “Just terrible!” While he made a fantastic charge in the final round coming from seven back to only one shot off the lead with two holes to play, it wasn’t enough for Tiger to avoid the bitter taste of defeat.

The different approaches the top two players in the world have to their final round shows a lot about each of them. Phil, the 2nd best player in the world, is having fun and satisfied with his results; happy with his performance. On the other hand, Tiger, the best player in the world, is constantly driven to do better and never satisfied with his play. Mickelson certainly has created a great life for himself making lots of money as a professional golfer and he’s content with where he is. Woods is driven to be the best of all-time. If their attitudes were reversed might their rankings also be?

Young athletes are supposed to learn to lose with dignity and be “good sports”. Does all of our politically correct teaching lead to an acceptance of losing instead of an all out drive to succeed? In school, is it good to get “all A’s” but never learn the material? Is the goal in life to be the best each individual can be or simply to get by? Is it better to try to make a diving catch, taking a chance
Coach’s Corner, Continued
that you might fail, or play it safe and hold the hitter to a single? These questions are each reflected by our champions.

Certainly we want our kids to have fun at what they do. Since the goal isn’t to create professional athletes but to teach “life lessons”, is having fun what’s it’s all about? The problem with that notion is that it does carry forward into schoolwork and life; instead of mastering the material in school we want our kids to get good grades. Instead of doing our best work we simply want to get our work done. This isn’t enough and we shouldn’t be satisfied with continuing to allow for mediocrity. As a society we need to demand more from ourselves, our kids and each other.

Not everybody has tremendous skills or the innate ability to accomplish great things. Yet, as John Wooden states: “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of the self satisfaction in knowing you have made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”. Therefore, each of us has the ability to succeed although with a different, personal and individual, standard of success. Perhaps what we saw through the Masters’ results was not a different attitude, but one player’s recognition that they had achieved what they were capable of and another feeling that they could have still done more. Given that we can all measure our own success with individual standards, always make sure to do your best because it’s better to be happy.

Care to comment on this month's article or poll questions or results?

Please visit The SportsKids Newsletter Forum and have your say!


We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids – try our “Title Fight” Sports Grab Bag Game and find the answers to these questions at the bottom.
1) When were the first modern Olympic games held?
A)   1896
B)   1900
C)   1904
D)   1908
2) What is Pele’s real name?
A)   Jose Martinez
B)   Felipe Sanchez
C)   Arantes Do Nascimento
D)   Miquel Sindovaul
3) Who was the first African-American man to win the world heavyweight boxing title?
A)   Joe Louis
B)   Jack Johnson
C)   Sonny Liston
D)   Archie Moore
4) What heavyweight champion was better known as the “Brockton Bomber”?
A)   Joe Louis
B)   Joe Frazier
C)   Rocky Marciano
D)   Muhammad Ali
5) At 57, who was the oldest player to win a PGA tour event?
A)   Jack Nicklaus
B)   Sam Snead
C)   Ben Hogan
D)   Arnold Palmer
There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey, basketball and “Sports Math” in three different skill levels. Test your sports skills against kids around the world in the SportsKids Game Section.

Answers: (1) A (2) C (3) B (4) C (5) B
1) Which of the following do you feel is most important in youth sports?
- Winning
- Sportsmanship
- Learning to Lose
- Developing Athletic Skills
2) Which of the following statements do you agree most with?
- Do you best when you play
- Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing
- Just have fun
3) Who do you think had the right approach after the 2009 Masters: Phil being happy with what he did or Tiger demanding victory or nothing?
- Tiger Woods
- Phil Mickelson
Previous Poll results:
1) What do you think is the most important factor for sports success?
- Mental Conditioning (9.89%)
- Skill Development (10.99%)
- Athletic Ability (10.99%)
- All of the Above (68.13%)
2) Have you ever been involved with a professional teaching mental conditioning?
- Yes (24.18%)
- No (75.82%)
3) Does your child set short and longer term goals for success in sports?
- Yes (72.53%)
- No (24.57%)
4) Does your child keep track of their goals by keeping a log, diary or checklist of accomplishments?
- Yes (32.97%)
- No (67.03%)

Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at