jim alread, for the love of the game, v3, read v3

A while back, I penned a column about Tiger Woods’ triumphant return to the Masters Golf Tournament. A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed (or let’s be honest, I saw it later all over social media) Woods giving a phenomenal impression of my golf game or lack thereof.

On Augusta’s famed No. 12, Woods managed to hit green a few times. Unfortunately for him, the ball spun or sprinted three of those times or just did a head-first dive into Rae’s Creek. When the smoke cleared, or in this case, the fourth ball was brought out from Tiger’s bag and finally, mercifully deposited in the cup, good old Eldrick had managed to card an eye-popping, septuple bogey 10 on the par-3 hole.

Oh 2020, what have you done to all of us?

Woods had never recorded a septuple bogey in any PGA Event during his career. And after a not-so-bad opening round at this year’s Masters, played in November nonetheless, the cold, stark reality and bogey man that is 2020, pun not intended, showed up to skewer even Tiger Woods.

In a typical year, I would have lambasted the Atlanta Braves for taking a 3-1 National League Championship Series lead on the heavily-favored Los Angeles Dodgers and then allowing said Dodgers to roll over them for three straight games and ride into the World Series. 

A series that the Dodgers won and that looked ever so winnable for the hometown Braves. Of course, to win the World Series, the Braves would have to finish the deal and reach the series.

Then again, I can’t be too mad at the Braves. They continue their now four-decade-long obsession with getting to the brink of championship status before finding one way or another to let us all down yet again. Of course, at least the Braves do it in the playoffs. 

Simultaneously, the Falcons managed to bungle leads and what looked like unlosable games at least two or three times in the regular season, ushering head coach Dan Quinn, who will be forever remembered as the coach who almost won the Super Bowl, out the door.

And what a cruel year, COVID turns everything upside down. Numerous colleges and their athletic programs spoke about the significant financial hardships they were facing. Then South Carolina decides to jettison head coach Will Muschamp a few games into the season, owing him a crap ton of money while numerous college employees suffer through furloughs.

What? I guess it’s not important enough to pay the employees their full salary, but they can certainly pay millions of dollars not to have a football coach with a less than stellar record.

This was almost as bad as the NFL deciding to make a point with the Denver Broncos. The quarterbacks of the Broncos apparently chose not to wear masks, one of them got COVID, and the others all had to go into quarantine. 

The problem was, Denver didn’t have another quarterback. The Broncos had to trot a wide receiver from the practice squad who had played quarterback at Wake Forest back in college. In the ensuing game, the Broncos’ offense looked almost as good as Tiger Woods floundering on Hole 12 in November.

I could also jump on Atlanta United for being able to go from the heights of the MLS Championship to the level of practically every other Atlanta professional sports team not named the Braves in less than two seasons. United’s brass made a terrible coaching hire and some not-so-smart personnel decisions, thus proving a point I made in a long-ago V3 column that Atlanta pro sports franchises live to ensure all of their fans are disappointed for life.

And before you go and call me a cry baby, I’ll tell you that I’ve loved every minute of it. Because for several months, I, like many others, thought the chances of us being able to watch sports were slim and none. My daughter’s travel soccer team managed to get a full season without any COVID, although more than half the team and myself spent time in quarantine due to contact tracing.

So while I complain about the Braves, Falcons and United, I’m glad I’m able to complain. I’ll take the typical Braves and Falcons let downs along with United’s new status in stride. Hey, at least I still have my beloved Tigers…oh wait, without Nick Saban coaching, thanks COVID, the Tide rolled over them, making me wonder if Auburn could have even beaten Bama’s second string if their entire first had gotten sick.

So give me Tiger’s record-setting-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Hole 12, a good and almost great Braves team and whatever you want to call the Falcons, United and Auburn, because in a year when we could all use as many distractions as possible, sports stepped up and provided us at least some respite from the craziness.

An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.