This past Friday, in a story we've all been subjected to in some form or fashion, Tiger Woods tore out of his driveway in his Cadillac Escalade, losing control, causing the sports utility vehicle to decimate a fire hydrant and careen into a tree in his neighbor's yard. There, his wife, apparently, smashed out a backseat window to free the world's No. 1 golfer.
While the news media has lunged into action to discover the reason for Woods's 2 AM exodus, covering the story with 24-hour reporting. And many in the media are sharpening stakes to crucify someone.
On ESPN's Sunday morning episode of The Sports Reporters, half the panel compared Woods's situation to names like John Daley, gifted drunk driver (the club, and the car), and Alex Rodriguez, presumably for his now forgotten steroids admission a mere nine months ago.
Mike Lupica, respected sports writer, and current children's novelist spouted, “The first reaction is always to say, this is a private matter, but no, not when you're a man whose made billions of dollars being a public figure. Not when this is a police matter, which this became. I want him to explain, not just where he was going, but how he got up to a certain speed. And I want to know why his wife had to use a golf club to get him out.”
Perhaps I'm a young dinosaur, and perhaps the days of privacy are long gone in this Internet, and reality television world. But a fishy story, and an athlete who has been famous just as much for his fine media pruning, as his awe inspiring talent, are not enough to allow the news media to call a spade, a diamond.
It may be juicy tabloid fodder to speculate on Woods running off to see a mistress, or more likely having a heated argument with his wife, leading him to lose focus on the road. The simple truth is it's none of our business, at least not yet. When you trim away the name, at the heart this is simply a traffic accident only slightly more relevant than your traditional fender bender.
The cut's on his face and the fact he may not play at his foundations Chevron World Challenge, are the meat of the story. However, he's renown for not playing in tournaments when he doesn't want to/have to. So even that doesn't have legs.
At the end of the day, when you look at why, and how the industry has forsaken itself to the depths of obsolescence, it's evident in this type of story. Twenty years ago, a good reporter would have sat on this for a few weeks and saw if it had any legs. If this was an isolated incident we would never hear about it. But if he could get solid concrete evidence that his wife was abusive or he was a philanderer THEN we'd get a full expose.
That is an example of quality investigative reporting. Now, however, we live in a world where we can view TMZ as a credible news source.
I'm not sure it can get any lower. Although I'm sure we'll find a way.
As I said in the title, Tiger Woods doesn't have to sit on Oprah's couch. He doesn't have to open up about an abusive relationship, or if he cheated on his strict nutritional program this Thanksgiving. He doesn't have to because he's not legally obligated to tell us anything.
After all its just a fender bender in front of his house. It's not even worth a line on the AP ticker.