By this point, I think we all know about what happened to Tiger Woods over the holiday. It’s been debated, discussed, rumored and dissected. Everyone has an opinion on what happened. Personally, I think it might have been something like this. Either way, that isn’t what I want to talk about.
What I want to talk about is this: Privacy.
Whenever an athlete is involved in a not-so-positive story that is initially murky and requires some reporting to be fully fleshed out, I get some (many?) emails from readers complaining about the nosy and intrusive media. It happened during the A-Rod divorce story and it even happened during the whole Carl Pavano-crashed-his-car-with-a-girl-in-it story.
Now, it’s Woods. Some people believe we should simply accept the accident for whatever Woods says it is – which, if we’re being honest, sure doesn’t make all that much sense – and move on. Not dig a little. Not make sure his fans around the world get the full story. That’s a perfectly valid opinion to have. I just don’t happen to agree with it.
I could write a very (very) long-winded explanation of why I think it’s OK to pursue stories like this one but the general essence of my reasoning is this: You don’t only get to be famous on the good days.
Athletes, particularly the biggest stars, are afforded many wonderful things because of their fame. The press they receive, and in turn, their popularity and notoriety, is what allows them to have the impact that they do on fans like you. They are, in so many ways, not like the average person and often that’s a positive thing: It gets them free stuff, lots of money and the devotion of many. If a friend of mine decides he wants to raise money to try and encourage kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol, he can have a fundraiser and work REALLY hard to get a few people there and raise a few thousand bucks. If Derek Jeter wants to do the same thing – which he does very, very well and is one of the reasons he won this award today – he can raise millions. That’s what fame can do. Without that fame – that attention – Jeter is just like my fundraising friend.
Thing is, nothing in life is perfect. And one of the imperfect parts of fame is that you can’t control what people want to pay attention to within your existence. If you’re on stage, the audience gets to see all of you – not only the good parts. The reality is that pro athletes like Woods (and A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera, for that matter) are on stage, for better and worse.
Privacy, of course, is a changing concept in the internet age and that’s a discussion for another day, but for now the question is this: Do athletes deserve the same privacy that “regular” people (hopefully) get?
I know this is an issue that has people on both sides and, as we wait for the Hot Stove to heat up a little, I thought it might be good to hone in on the debate. Feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts and/or post here in the comments.