Friday, August 21, 2015

Athletes and Numbers: One that Jordan Spieth Wears Well

There's just something to be said for numbers. My friend who teaches math loves them. I suppose she should—her job depends on them—but she takes comfort in the fact that "they aren't open to interpretation; they don't lie." Indeed, numbers confirm for us that you have it or you don't. And that's just a small reason why numbers color the language of sports. From total yardage in passing to greens in regulation, shots on goal to pitch count— to love sports means to enter into a relationship with numbers. 
In 2014, the Giants had won 88 games in the regular season. The team that won the World Series didn't even have over 90 wins in the regular season! That's surprising, and my dad, my brother and me were talking about this feat. But, my brother was convinced that the G-men won 89 games. I said 85. Our father, the statistician—naturally—got it right. He sees games through the lens of numbers as stats. I see them a little differently.

Numbers add to the narrative. I love learning about the number and athletes chooses to wear and why. I've written about athletes who honor other athletes with the same number. I'm intrigued by sports, like football that forbids certain position players from wearing any number of one's choosing. And it's interesting for me to see that not all numbers are up for grabs. For example, Major League Baseball retired the number 42 from the game, to honor Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player in the league. Indeed, numbers can serve as the most rudimentary point of connection, as I enjoyed reading in the article "Why We Love Sports." 
Last fall, after Alabama kicker Cade Foster missed two field goal attempts and had a third blocked in the Crimson Tide’s 34-28 loss to Auburn, George W. Bush dropped a note to Foster: “Life has its setbacks. I know! However you will be a stronger human with time.” Bush signed the note “another 43,” reflecting his position in the line of U.S. presidents and Foster’s uniform number.
And, I have no doubt that the Texas Rangers' front office enjoyed calling attention to a prestigious number Jordan Spieth earned earlier in the week, after his second place finish at the PGA Championship. Spieth, a native of Dallas, threw out the first pitch at the Ballpark in Arlington in a Rangers jersey with none other than the number one underneath his name. He is now the number one golfer in the world; he wears "1" well.

Spieth has put up incredible numbers this past year. He finished 1, 1, 4 and 2 at the Majors this year. He has won two other PGA tournaments in 2015. His prize money (this is just from the tour, not from Under Armour and other promotions or bets ;-) is over $10 million.

However what I love about the video (here and above) is that it finally demonstrates one number that eludes his fans. From time to time, it's hard to believe that Spieth is just 22 years old (he won the Masters and US Open at 21!). But to hear him talk about baseball, stories from games of the past and more, is to get a glimpse of Spieth, not necessarily, a kid—but rather a young man.

Unfortunately, sister Ellie is not in the photo.
Spieth could be a knucklehead, but I have a feeling only his brother, sister, closest friends or his caddy know the extent of that. But he's also just a guy, who—in the past year has changed the face of golf. He uses the term "we" more than any other player, he demonstrates exemplary sportsmanship and his reminds me that the most important part of the game is maintaining focus and control of what happens between the ears.

Photo Credits
Spieth Family
First Pitch

No comments:

Post a Comment