I can’t sleep, and that makes me angry. I just ate a microwave burrito I keep around for times like this, so our state of being could change at any moment. But I just read an infuriating Rick Reilly column.
I know, at this point picking on Rick Reilly seems too easy, but I’m just baffled by his unflagging stupidity, and his willful intransigence. Every week, he publishes a self-flaggelating column entitled, “The one email that wasn’t insulting,” as if he bears no responsibility for the vitriol that comes his way. No, you’re not going to please everybody, but you’re especially not going to do it if you don’t try.
Today’s column was called “Mickelson’s win a victory for women,” and posited that the gender that makes up more than 50 percent of the human population “won” something because Phil Mickelson won a golf tournament, the logic being that Tiger was bad to his wife, and Mickelson, whose mother and wife are undergoing cancer treatments, is good to his wife. Thus, women “won” something when he won the Masters, because the image with which we were presented was that of a man who was deeply in love with and devoted to his spouse, and used that as fuel to win a golf tournament.
This is familiar because it is what we were presented with from Tiger Woods for so long. Nevermind the question of whether Phil Mickelson is having affairs (I am not suggesting, nor would I suggest, that he is), the question is, “Is he capable of it?” Well did we learn anything from Tiger or not? Are you going to unblinkingly believe the reality with which you are presented, or are you going to maintain some sort of perspective? Perspective like, I don’t know, remembering that what just happened was a golf tournament at a club that does not admit women members.
For Rick Reilly, the answer is no: He will not maintain this perspective. He is a sportswriter, and thus life must be seen as a morality play that is told through the results of major sporting events. Women won today, but wait until tomorrow’s Twins game. The sickening part is that sports can teach us an amazing amount about life, and we can learn and funnel life lessons through them, but Reilly has the order all backward. He sees the result and draws a conclusion. What he should be doing is observing a phenomenon and finding the root cause. Some women may remember that Phil Mickelson won the Masters next week, but will that get them better-paying jobs? Happier relationships, with better lines of communication? No. It will do nothing for them, because “Phil Mickelson” is just an idea like “Tiger Woods” was, and if you’re building happiness atop a house of cards it’s bound to fall. We can learn to make better choices, and sometimes it’s tempting to take the easy way out and swallow the lines that have been given to us. We don’t need idiots like Rick Reilly to put an exclamation point on them. We need guys like Rick Reilly to tear them down, so we can attain the happiness that he ascribes to Phil Mickelson in our own lives.