the national evil redefines courage. (for real this time.)

Remember what Roadhouse taught us, Tiger: Pain don’t hurt.

The Evil listens to a fair amount of sports-infested podcasts. Helps get him through the workaday workday. Good to run to. That kind of thing.

He might have to take a sabbatical this week, though, for something is coming . . . something even Evil fears . . .

The unrestrained, uncontained misuse of the word courage.

If you weren’t aware, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on a knee that was only recently surgically repaired. “On one leg,” as they say. The Evil gives about a tenth of a damn about golf, but as any sports fan knows, if it involves Tiger, you’re going to hear about it. Incessantly.

The Evil has seen pictures of Tiger grimacing in pain as he drives the ball; the knee, though repaired, is by no means fully healed. And granted, it must be awfully painful to schlep across a 7,300-yard golf course for five days. To plant your feet and rocket a golf ball hundreds of yards at a time.

But when all is said and done, Evil knows he will hear about what a courageous performance Tiger gave at the Open. What courage he showed through 91 holes. And to that the Evil says: pffah! Playing at a golf tournament where the winner will bag over 1.25 million dollars . . . that’s not courage.

That’s grit. That’s determination. That’s keeping your eye on the prize and giving 110 percent. But it ain’t courage.

That begs the question: What, then, is courage?

To paraphrase that porn-loving member of the Supreme Court, the Evil might not be able to define courage, but he knows it when he sees it.

For one thing, courage can’t involve an act performed in hopes of outrageous financial gain. Dashing into a burning building to rescue an orphan is courageous. Playing for a million-plus-dollar purse—more money than most Americans will see in a lifetime—isn’t. Even on a bum knee that could conceivably be reinjured. Let’s call that a calculated risk.

For another, courage can’t be ascribed to a routinely voluntary act. It’s Tiger’s job to play golf; it’s his life. Now, you might say soldiers volunteer to be shot at, and these days that’s pretty routine. All right, then, let’s add one more rule: courage has to involve sacrifice. And while Tiger might possibly be sacrificing future wins and earning potential by risking his tender knee in this tournament . . . no. We’re talking about sacrifice sacrifice, as in ultimate sacrifice.

And lastly:

Courage does not, cannot, will never apply to a game or sport of any kind. The Willis Reed game, the Jordan flu game, the Gibson homer in the World Series—all of these are impressive, amazing, heartwarming . . . but not courageous. OK?

What is courage?

Courage is wrestling a grizzly while your family flees your picnic site. Run, little Jimmy! Get in the SUV and lock the doors!

Courage is smothering a live grenade with your body. You’ll never get inside this bio-terror lab, Al- Qaeda operatives!

Courage is dangling from a helicopter as a supervillain’s burly henchman bashes your knuckles with a tire iron. Dr. Lava must not escape!

Courage is opening the space station airlock and dragging the hideous alien intruder into the suffocating vacuum of space. Die, you malformed spawn of a mutant planet!

The Evil would like to know: what do YOU consider courageous? Speak up, cowards!

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4 thoughts on “the national evil redefines courage. (for real this time.)”

  1. Courage can most certainly be applied to sports. Every day that Mike Hampton gets out of bed there’s a good chance that all of the bones in his body could shatter like glass. But there he is sitting on the bench every day. Getting his paycheck. Working hard for his team. That’s courage if I’ve ever seen it.

  2. ouch.

    and by that i don’t mean “ouch, that’s harsh.”

    i mean, i think i just heard another of mike hampton’s bones snapping, and just the sound of it caused me pain.

    so: ouch.

  3. I’ve spent a little bit of time with some courageous folks and I’ve witness my share of courageous acts, and just because it’s your job doesn’t mean it’s not courageous. A firefighter gets paid to drive to a fire and spray water on it, he doesn’t get paid to break down the door and go from room to room carrying people out while his air supply quickly runs out. The same could be said for soldiers, cops, lifeguards, etc. Some people’s job description includes “routinely performs heroic acts”.

  4. that’s true . . . i could have been more precise in saying that in each of those cases there is a large element of selflessness inherent in the daily performance of those duties. some pop=psychological folk argue that there is no true selflessness or altruism, but the “reward” of risking your life hardly equals 1.35 million dollars. and to repeatedly perform those acts on a daily basis is definitely courageous. in fact, that might be the textbook definition: to offer yourself up for danger in order to benefit others at high risk to yourself.

    today it was revealed that tiger had a stress fracture in his knee the whole time, and he’s shutting it down for the year to undergo ACL surgery to boot. which further elevates his accomplishment to the almost ludicrously amazing. but not courageous.

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