I’m Getting Tired, But Happy, of These Buck Trending Athlete Parents

By A. Renee' West
Updated: February 19, 2006
Tiger Woods and Shani Davis

Tiger Woods and Shani Davis

New York—Before Shani Davis, 1000-meter Olympic Gold medallist skated; NBC ran Davis’ ‘warm and fuzzy’ bio piece. I’ll admit, before the piece anyone not watching American Idol knew only two things: Davis is African American and he irked folks off when he refused to skate with the U.S. speedskating team.

Seriously. Folks talked ugly about Davis. Teammates. Former U.S. speedskating stars. One Web site visitor used the ‘N’ word. But Davis kept his mind focused on his individual race.

As for the bio, which was pretty fair, Davis’ mother Cherie, let us in on the ‘other side’ of the story. How she supported Davis’ dream to speedskate since he was a child. How she never coddled her son when he lost. And how she feels the U.S. Speedskating Federation has a ‘skin problem.’ Davis lets his mom fight his battles. His job is to skate.

His gold medal shows they both did their jobs well.

And my job was to remember why this story sounded familiar.

Richard Williams. Father of five girls, he realized tennis was a lucrative opportunity to get his family out of the ‘just getting by.’ So he took his two youngest daughters, Venus and Serena, to Compton, CA’s tennis courts and trained them himself. His way. Using a book. And when the resources of Compton were exhausted he moved the family to Florida, and kept training his daughters. Himself. His way. Like other tennis parents he entered them in junior tournaments. Unlike other tennis parents he pulled them out so they could concentrate on school where they were A students. After they turned pro they won Wimbledons and U.S. Opens. They all did their jobs well.

Earl Woods. He named his only son by his second marriage after another ‘Green Beret.’ And as that son showed a love for the game Earl loved, golf, he taught him the discipline needed to conquer that game, for Earl saw golf as a metaphor for life – there are birdies and eagles, sand traps and bogeys. But if you face them all, as you walk down the 18th fairway you will come out stronger and wiser, head high, apologies not needed. Not everyone feels comfortable around Earl Woods. Some see his personality as abrasive and unapologetic, and his relationship with Tiger as dictatorial, dominating, and possessive. But for me, the hug Earl and Tiger shared after Tiger won his first Masters was the best shot of the day. Earl trained Tiger his way. Tiger won his way. Jobs well done.

I’m tired, but happy, we’ve got these buck trending trailblazers.