But the older Watson gets, the more of a cranky old scold he becomes. Some people react to that by holding up Watson as some kind of moral exemplar. I don't. I just think he's become a cranky old scold.
Not that there's anything wrong with that! When I'm old, I plan to be cranky and scolding, too! It's just that we need to separate the public athlete who we admire for his accomplishments in his sport, from the actual person, whose attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors often don't match up with his sports-generated persona (or with what we'd like to believe about him).
Watson may or may not be a great moral authority, but it's pretty clear he views himself as one. He must, or he wouldn't be so willing to try to use his name to publicly scold or privately chastise others.
For example, you probably remember the story about Gary McCord being banned from Masters broadcasts after, during the 1994 telecast, McCord made a couple comments the Augusta poobahs didn't like. Jokes, they were - jokes about the golf course ("bikini wax" greens, "where the bodies are buried" mounds) that didn't go over so well with the guardians of Augusta.
What you probably don't remember - what you probably never knew - is that Tom Watson played a role in that. He wrote a letter the day after the broadcast to CBS producer Frank Chirkinian in which Watson called McCord "the Howard Stern of TV golf" and urged that McCord be fired. Specifically, Watson wrote, "Get rid of him, now."
The muckraking blog Sports By Brooks did a couple posts about Watson several years ago when Watson was inserting himself into the Tiger Woods scandal. In years past, Watson had a drinking problem, was left by his wife, estranged from his kids. He then married the ex-wife of golfer Denis Watson (no relation to Tom) after that woman left the other Watson. Was an affair involved in any of that chain of events? There were rumors to that effect, rumors Watson himself never addressed (even though he urged Tiger Woods to publicly come clean).
Look, this isn't intended a bash-Tom-Watson post. As I started out by saying, I've been a big fan of the golfer Tom Watson, and I'm happy for him that he got the Ryder Cup gig again that he so obviously wanted.
This post is really about those people who like to hold up athletes they like and admire as paragons of moral rectitude. Let's just knock that off, OK?