Patrick already asked some questions about the recent Tiger Woods car accident story, but now we have a statement from the legendary golfer himself. For those of you who missed it over the holiday break, Tiger was apparently involved in a “single car accident” where he damaged a fire hydrant and plowed into a tree outside his home, suffering some non-life threatening injuries, particularly to his face. Police say no alcohol or drugs were involved, so this might have been one of those unfortunate little incidents where we are all simply thankful he wasn’t more seriously hurt and move on with our lives.
But rumors have been swirling and details seem to contradict a simple automotive steering failure. Tiger’s wife was on the scene with a golf club, allegedly smashing in windows to rescue him from the vehicle. Others are saying she was actually attacking Tiger with the club. And stories have already been making the rounds that Woods may have a girlfriend on the side. And now Tiger has responded.
This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible…
This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.
Sounds like a reasonable request, right? I mean, this is America, after all. But the question isn’t quite that simple. Much has been made of the fact that Tiger Woods was the first professional athlete to make more than one billion dollars. But only ten percent of that was from winnings on the PGA Tour. The rest came from endorsements. His name, face and image are plastered on advertisements for everything from sports equipment to cars to sports drinks to the highly lucrative EA Sports video games franchise of Tiger Woods Golf. (Still one of the all time best sellers in the United States.)
In America, when you’re a regular old private citizen, you should have a reasonable expectation of a very high degree of privacy. What you do in your own home on your own time is your business as long as you’re not hurting anyone else or breaking the law. But Tiger is no longer a member of that club. When you accept all those checks and sign on the line, you put yourself out there with not just your name, but with your whole person as the face and image of those companies who pay you. You move from the status of professional athlete to something more like a role model. People have questions about you, and the companies who pay you, along with the legions of kids and consumers who buy into that product line expect answers. In short, you have become something of a celebrity on top of being a professional athlete.
The fact is, celebrities accept a certain reduction in their expectation of privacy when they move into that world by their own choice and for their own profit. It’s not quite as bad as being an elected official, of course. When you run for elected office, you effectively sacrifice all but the most rudimentary privacy in what you do in the bedroom and the bathroom. But for somebody in Tiger’s level of public involvement, it’s not much better. So, Mr. Woods, stop lecturing us about intruding on your privacy. You chose this life, you cashed the checks, you put your face, your name and your image out there to fatten your bank accounts. And this is part of the price that comes with that. Man up, Tiger.