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Virtually every professional sport has a select few dominant individual performers, who have fame, fortune and influence that boggles the mind.  After watching CBS Sunday, I was struck at the significant contrast between two of the biggest names.   Tiger Woods. Photo by sportsofboston.com   Albert Pujols. Photo by mediaoutrage.com Tiger Woods did not win […]

Virtually every professional sport has a select few dominant individual performers, who have fame, fortune and influence that boggles the mind.  After watching CBS Sunday, I was struck at the significant contrast between two of the biggest names.

 
Tiger Woods. Photo by sportsofboston.com
 
Albert Pujols. Photo by mediaoutrage.com

Tiger Woods did not win the Masters this year. I was thrilled. This was one of the most exciting Masters in ages. Yet Tiger demonstrated in his post-final round interview, just as he did a year ago, that the turmoil that surrounded his personal life hasn’t changed him a bit.

Last year, after he finished 4th in the Masters, an amazing performance considering it was his first tournament after the media circus surrounding his Thanksgiving 2009 car crash and subsequent revelations of his infidelity, he said: “It sucked out there. I was horrible. I’m disgusted with myself.” And “how could I feel good, I finished 4th, I didn’t win.” Me me me.

Then Sunday, he demonstrated how egocentric and ungrateful he is by responding to a question on how he felt about his performance, “We’ll see what happens… Right now, I’m one back and we’ll see what Adam (Scott) does, I’m going to eat. I’m starving.”

I knew that’s what Tiger would say.  Because that’s what Tiger says every time he loses.  It’s never about the guys who beat him – it’s always about how badly he played. I can’t remember a single time that Tiger lost and tipped his hat to the superior play of the other pros. Or said something nice about the course. Or how great it was to be out there. Or the fans that supported him, especially after all his transgressions. 

But no, it’s all about Tiger and his continued entitlement, and frankly I’m sick of it.

Fade to less than an hour after the Masters, on the same network. 60 Minutes. A great show. The last segment was about arguably baseball’s most prolific superstar, Albert Pujols. What a contrast with the recalcitrant Tiger. 

The St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger is one of the top 10 players in baseball history. But to people with Down syndrome and the poor of his native Dominican Republic that he helps, he means a lot more than home runs and RBI.

Albert Pujols is everything you could ask for in a professional athlete. He doesn’t drink or smoke. He doesn’t take drugs of any kind (hear that Barry Bonds?). He’s a God-fearing family man who gives back as much as he gets.

The segment on 60 Minutes started out with an annual Prom – a dance Albert hosts for young people with Down syndrome. We found out that the condition has a profound effect on Pujols, because his wife Deidre’s 13-year old daughter has it. Albert knew that in 2000 when he married her – and it didn’t deter him, because love was more important.

And he doesn’t just host the prom for the kids, he attends. And talks, And smiles. And dances! All night long. And it’s clear he’s having the time of his life. Just for these kids, who through no fault of their own can’t live normal lives.

We then find that his generosity extends back to his home in the Dominican Republic, where he visits once a year, to ensure that his donations are having an impact. He interacts with the people, helps them, listens to them.  He is clearly one of the most charitable athletes in professional sports.

And the beauty of all this for Milwaukeeans is that we can see Albert Pujols at Miller Park 9 times this season, specifically June 10-11-12, August 1-2-3, August 30-31 and September 1.

So when Tiger comes back this way for the Ryder Cup at Medinah outside Chicago in 2012, if he makes the team, go to see the majesty of an incredible international sporting event, not Tiger. But when Albert Pujols comes to Milwaukee, go see him. As many times as you can. Not only will you be seeing a certain Hall of Fame player, you’ll be seeing a Hall of Fame person. And that folks, is a priceless opportunity.

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