Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When does a mental-game coach become a just-mental coach?
About the time he attaches great significance to a Nike commercial.
Sports psychologist Bob Rotella doesn't like the recent Nike commercial which shows Anthony Kim, Trevor Immelman, Stewart Cink and Justin Leonard laughing and feeling good about their recent success
until they're silenced by an all-business Tiger Woods returning to the
locker room after his injury layoff, according to the Florida
. (If you've recently been released from Biosphere 2 and haven't seen the commerical, you can watch it here.) This came through when that Nike commercial aired last week trumpeting Tiger Woods' return at the Accenture Match Play Championship. It's the one where the song "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" plays
over a message in which Woods' competitors acknowledge that the fun and
games they're having are over now that Woods is back. "Hated it," Rotella said. "One of the worst commercials I've ever seen in my life." Rotella means no offense to Woods, but he was repulsed by the fact
competitors would willingly put themselves in such deferential
positions, even if it was meant to be funny. This is the coach in him
reacting, the jock in him recoiling.
C'mon, Bob, the commercial is funny, and Nike was smart to leverage Woods to make a commercial about its other, lesser-known stars. (Woods appears in the ad for just a few seconds -- the ad is really about AK, Cink, Immelman and Leonard.) It's also a stretch to say that appearing in this ad amounts to surrender. The self-parodying athlete has been a cliche since David Ortiz wore a Yankees cap in an ESPN conference room for the network's groundbreaking "This is Sports Center" commercials.
At least AK has the right idea. Here's how he responded to Rotella's criticism Tuesday at Doral: Q. Bob Rotella commented after the advertisement ran, which almost
everybody enjoyed, about Tiger walking in the locker room, that sort of
a thing, that it was not a bright thing for you guys to do and that you
are all afraid of Tiger Woods. That was a pretty strong comment for him
to make. What do you think about that?
ANTHONY KIM: I didn't even hear about it. Q. He sort of said, it's like you guys are giving him ammunition, saying you are all afraid of him. ANTHONY KIM: Well, I have a sense of humor, so ... (laughter).

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