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Tiger Woods: Public Citizen, Private Matter?

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It's been a long week for Tiger Woods, and it isn't even over. Last weekend, news of a car accident that left him battered but not broken emerged. Of course, he had our sympathies. But when the details started coming out, we all scratched our heads--and not because our weaves were too tight.

TMZ put its version of two and two together: Tiger's wife of five years, Elin, also the mother of his children, had confronted him about his alleged affair with Rachel Uchitel, a woman most of us had never heard of before. The wife flipped out and attacked. Tiger fled, then crashed.

On Monday, Tiger released his first statement, he called the public conjecture "false, unfounded and malicious." But before noon yesterday, he was singing a slightly different tune (though still denying any physical assault)--especially since US Weekly had reported that a Los Angeles cocktail waitress claimed she too had a 31-month affair with Woods, and she could prove it. The magazine released recordings of a man leaving a message for his mistress who identified himself as "Tiger":

"Hey, it's, uh, it's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Um, can you please, uh, take your name off your phone. My wife went through my phone. And, uh, may be calling you... You gotta do this for me. Huge. Quickly. All right. Bye."
After these revelations, Tiger released a second statement, acknowledging "transgressions" and that he had "not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves." We all interpreted that to mean he cheated and got caught. TMZ's seemingly far-fetched version of the alleged events didn't seem so unlikely after all.

The police wanted to know more, and um... so did we. When Tiger Went Cheetah reads like a made-for-a-24-hour news cycle plot. And although Tiger insisted twice that all this hoopla is a private matter, the public wants to know more. Jimi Izreal at The Root.com insisted in "Why Tiger Woods' Family Drama is Our Business" that Tiger had an "obligation" to confess:

"It's one thing to guard your privacy. But when you hold yourself up as a role model, you have an obligation to be accountable to people who look up to you."
As salacious as Tiger's story is and though he's handing out press releases like turkeys on Thanksgiving Day and has apologized to his fans, Tiger's private life, especially all the juicy details, is actually none of our business. The only people he's accountable to in all this are his wife and insurance company and maybe his sponsors who count on his clean-cut image to sell their products. If we don't like Tiger's "transgressions", we have every right not to watch his games and not to support the multitude of items he endorses. But we're bordering on self-righteousness to think a celebrity who's fame is largely built off the skill to hit a ball really well, breaking color barriers in his sport, good sportsmanship, a wide, straight smile, and a tendency to be seen everywhere due to his billion dollars worth of endorsements is "obligated" to put his non-sport related business in the street for us to gobble up like last week's leftovers. Yes, he's a celebrity and public figure, but he's not obligated to us to come forth and be "the face" of alleged domestic violence against men, men who crash at low speeds, or even golfers who "transgress" against their wives.

US Weekly, TMZ, and other media outlets who peddle the pop culture "news" of the day, will continue to get up in Tiger's business--with or without a public confession--for as long as we stay interested. It's their obligation to bring us the story behind the story and get all the dirty details that we want to cackle or shake our heads over. But Tiger? He's obligated to give us, his fans, A-game execution on the green and perhaps another few tournament wins in the process. That's about it.

Demetria Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE magazine and the author of ABelleInBrooklyn.com
Filed Under: Real Talk
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