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Memo to Tiger Woods

-first posted at RTDNA.org on December 1, 2009

To: Tiger Woods, Professional Golf Superstar
From: The Media, Professional Golf Superstar Makers

Mr. Woods:

It has come to our attention that it is your desire to keep the details surrounding your recent car accident to yourself.  You have issued a statement on your web site saying, “This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way.”  That may be well and good for the other 300 million people in the country who are NOT Tiger Woods, but this approach—both the written web statement and the request for privacy—just won’t due.  You are who you are thanks as much to media interest as to your own golf ability, and we, the media, won’t settle for this approach you’re taking.

Let’s start with the notion that anything that occurs outside (and many of the things that occur inside) your home can be private.   Mr. Woods, this is just not the case.  You have chosen to live your life publicly by cultivating your superstar sports status.  Had you chosen a private life without the attention on your golf—not to mention the multimillion-dollar endorsement deals—that would be different.  There are talented people everywhere who do not use those talents to make money on the public stage.  They have private lives and no one cares when they crash their cars into trees without hurting anyone else.  You, Mr. Woods, are in a different situation.  What you consider your “private” life is part of the package that is Tiger Woods, Inc.  It deserves attention every bit as much as your work on the links.  And if America is going to consider you a role model and leader among young men, then it deserves to know as much as possible about the person who has allowed himself to be put into the position in which you are in now.

Now let’s turn to the idea of releasing a written statement through your web site.  Come on, Mr. Woods.  Had you taken such a timid approach on the golf course in your years of play you would have never won a tournament.  In fact, some of our ilk would call it cowardly.  Quietly releasing a few paragraphs online does a disservice to your fans and to your reputation.  Our professional advice is to step forward and tell the story of what happened last week.  Sure, there are probably some details you’d like to keep to yourself.  But a general outline of the events of that early morning, followed by a chance for reporters to ask questions, would go a long way toward clearing away a growing gray cloud on your reputation.  People, you see, take a written statement as a sheet of paper behind which you are hiding.  Trust us, we know.  We’ve seen this many times before.

You see, we’ll keep working on this story whether you want it to be private or not.  Truth be told, some of us will report rumors or speculation without any evidence it’s true.  Others will report more correctly, doing our homework to find out what we can before we air it.  But we will find out.  And the longer the facts are hidden behind a false assumption of privacy, the longer and harder we’ll work to pull back that veil and show what it is you appear to be hiding.

So, Mr. Woods, here’s what we’re advising you to do.  First, do what you should have done in the first place and come out and talk to us.  Hold a news conference and give us at least an overview of what happened that night.  List the events leading up to your departure from the house.  What happened inside?  Why did you leave at that hour?  Regarding the accident and the moments following it, give us some details.  How did you come to hit the hydrant and the tree?  What are the extent of your injuries?  Why do they seem inconsistent with the damage to your car?  And what was your wife’s role at the scene of the accident.  None of these questions invade the amount of privacy a celebrity in your position still can hold as his own.

This advice is free—it’s not costing you a thing.  We cannot say the same about your actions so far.  The makers of the products you so readily endorse have much more invested in how this comes out than we reporters do.  They have been watching since the moment this story broke to see how you would handle things.  So far, despite some public statements of support, you can trust us when we tell you they are not pleased.  They see their chief pitchman hiding from the media and stonewalling the police and their investigation.  Are those the actions of a role model?  We suspect most people would say “no.”

We’ll keep our memo brief and say that the next move is yours, Mr. Woods.  Take the discipline that has made you the legend you are on the fairways and put it to work on your image.  Follow the advice you’ve stood behind since your first endorsement deal and “Just Do It.”

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