Tiger Wood's Trap: The Quest for Privacy

Bill YatesContributor IFebruary 19, 2010

WINDERMERE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Tiger Woods practices golf outside his home on February 18, 2010 in Windermere, Florida. Woods will make a statement at the PGA Tour headquarters this Friday morning (February 19, 2010), according to a notice on the PGA Tour's web site.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images


Tiger Woods' statement provided many of the elements needed for rehabilitation from his behavioral problem. It included a sincere sense of remorse, acceptance of personal blame, request for forgiveness, professional help for his problems and the vow to attempt to do better. All of these factors would seem to indicate he has made progress and would be optimistic signs of recovery.

One issue stood out to me as a potential warning sign: his continued quest for privacy. He admitted in his statement that he made the mistake of feeling entitled to many of the temptations he pursued. I wonder if he still has a unrealistic sense of entitlement to privacy.

Obviously, the privacy issue provokes feelings of anger as demonstrated in his statement. He displayed anger at the inaccurate portrayal of his wife Elin being physically aggressive and at press reports that identified the school his two-and-a-half year-old daughter attends.

An undercurrent of anger must also be boiling at the press for their role in discovering his infidelity, failing to keep it private, and making the whole issue a worldwide phenomenon. This media explosion must be deeply embarrassing for Tiger and he must still harbor resentment towards the press for contributing to the pain he has experienced.

Tiger emphasized the personal nature of what he was going through and asked that his privacy be respected. This seems on the surface to reasonable.

However, his request is unlikely to influence media coverage of his return to golf.  The media circus will continue and based on Tiger's privacy expectation, it will produce more feelings of anger.

I'm not sure Tiger's problem is an addiction problem but painful emotional states are common precipitants of relapse in addictive disorders. Tiger may be setting himself up for a higher risk of relapse by holding unrealistic expectations of privacy. The press is setting a trap for Tiger deeper than the pot bunkers at St. Andrews.

That trap is anger and the effect of anger on his future behavior.

Tiger might be better off paying less attention to his press coverage. He will need all his energy to focus on elements in his control. Tiger could benefit by accepting limits to his privacy and avoiding the trap of anger at the media.