You would think that Tiger Woods would know that the concept of privacy is just a quaint throwback to the long gone days of yesteryear. Back in 1998 - 1999, he was the victim of identity theft. The culprit, Anthony Lemar Taylor stole about US$17,000 worth of goods using Woods' good name. For a short while, albeit early in his career, Woods was just like one if us. He was just a normal guy who had his identity stolen.
But then again, Taylor was sentenced to 200 years to life in prison in April 2001. No joke. And during the trial, Woods was given special access to the court to testify, according to an article on SI.com. Clearly Woods was not one of us, one of the thousands of people who have had their identity stolen with no closure or legal recourse.
But Tiger seems to have taken this victory and built on it to a life of fame, fortune, and seclusion, thinking that he was untouchable. He thought that his privacy would always be respected. But things have changed in the past year. He became more human, and in the process more vulnerable. He became a target for criticism for his behavior on the golf course. Last week things started exploding around his tightly controlled persona, with the damage still unfolding. Despite having high-paid handlers and PR folks, the wheels are coming off the "Tiger is perfect and can do know wrong" bus."
"He should have called [David] Lettermen's people and asked for their help and advice in this situation," said one sportscaster I spoke with yesterday. At the time, it was a little bit humourus. Then came the Us Magazine article and the alleged audiotape. All of the sudden, the suggestion sounded a little less funny, and Tiger Woods was finally forced into a corner. He had to release a statement.
What was astonishing in the statement issued is that he still thinks he is above the rest of society in that his privacy should be respected. Did he think he was just like Barrack Obama in that he could just say go away and the media would? Was he serious in the part of the statement that said:
"...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."
While I agree with what Woods says in principle, he is being naive in thinking that because he says it, the voyeuristic nature of our society and media will bend to his will. If it did, he would not have to lead the secluded live that he does. He would be able to walk about freely in public, without a care in the world.
The reality is that for some reason, the news of his accident and hospitalization was delayed for twelve hours. Was this because of his money and power, or was it because the police did not want to have to deal with a media circus? The latter still happened as the media still descended. One ESPN staff member in Orlando put up a Facebook status that said
"If you live in Windemere, leave early. You would not believe all the uplink trucks parked outside of Tiger's subdivision over the weekend. Even more this morning."
So Tiger Woods is now getting a life lesson: no matter how much money or power he has, he is a target. He has no privacy and never will, and there is no entitlement. He cannot assume that his silence will help him. It has hurt him deeply.
Oh and have his people get in touch with Letterman's people.