You didn’t think his name really was ‘Tiger,’ did you?
Something has been bothering me about this whole Tiger Woods disaster, but wasn’t able to put my finger on it.
Tiger made a bad decision. He’s not a murderer, and I’m not terribly interested in him, or in golf, so it all seemed remarkably overblown. He screwed up, he’ll suffer the consequences, and that’ll be that. But as I said, something bothered me about it. I realized that there are actually two ‘somethings.’
First, and to his credit, Woods was penitent from the beginning. But accompanying his apologies were comments like these, from his December 2 press release:
no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.
Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone.
He’s right and he’s wrong. Woods’ fame comes with a price. He was fine with it when everyone had only cheers for him, but to now suggest that everyone should mind their own business because of a failure of his is disingenuous at best. He’s doubly disingenuous because I don’t believe the only reason he’s upset about the attention is because he’s embarrassed and trying to protect his family.
Second, only a small percentage of Woods’ income comes directly from playing golf. According to the Forbes article “World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2009,” Woods easily takes the top spot, making two and a half times more than the second person on the list. Further, he’s topped the list for eight years running. Woods earned $110 million in the 12 months ending June 2009 and only $5 million came from playing. Although Woods earned some of the remaining $105 million from designing golf courses, the lions share is from endorsements and licensing. Nike alone paid him $30 million.
Certainly promoters wouldn’t be courting him if he weren’t such a talent, but his image is also much desired by those wanting to shower him with cash in exchange for the use of his name and image. So his image is incredibly valuable. If he can encourage the press to lay off, the scandal will fall off the front page sooner. The faster the public moves on to the next bit of celebrity gossip, the less sponsorship money he will lose.
I’m sure he cares about his family. I’m sure he cares what people think of him as a person. But to use a press release to suggest that ‘personal sins should not require press releases’ is too much for me to stomach. He didn’t have to issue a press release. He could keep his private business private and continue to play golf and design golf courses. I bet he’d hang on to a few sponsors and still earn more money than most of us can imagine having.
But he didn’t do any of that.
Tiger grudgingly accepted the consequences of his actions only because of the money he otherwise stood to lose.