The child prodigy

ESPN has an in-depth article on how Tiger Woods’ life unraveled after the death of his father in 2006. It is a long read but an interesting one if you were curious about his fall from grace. The fact that he had trouble keeping up his performance after his scandals became public didn’t surprise me. Golf, as I understand it, is a mental game.

The extent of his fall did surprise me, however. This article does a good job explaining what happened in the past decade. The author’s view is that Tiger’s relationship with his Dad is what kept him in equilibrium. He was raised to be a pro golfer by his dad and, as a result, didn’t really grow up with a “normal” social circle or support group. And, after his dad’s passing, all of this began to unravel.

I found myself reflecting on child prodigies. Tiger Woods was definitely one of those prodigies as I was growing up. Macaulay Culkin (The Home Alone star) was another one. So was Lindsay Lohan. All three of them (and many more) have had so many difficulties dealing with being thrust in the limelight so young. Tiger kept going for a really long period of time before the house of cards began to collapse.

All of these child prodigies achieve a huge amount in record time. That’s what makes them so popular. But, I do wonder if the costs are worth it? G R R Martin wisely said that he is so glad to have only “made it” in his 60s and 70s because he’s found it so hard to deal with worldwide fame. He feels it would have ruined him had it come to him when he was young. That makes sense. It takes character to deal with fame and not let it ruin you. And, character development doesn’t happen in time for the kids who are pushed into fame.

Child prodigies are manufactured by eager parents. This article made me wonder – would the same parents push their kids to do what they did if they considered the end result more carefully?

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And, on a parting note, I really hope you find your way back to happiness, Tiger.

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