Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The hype over Tiger Woods

In a recent piece published in Newsweek magazine, Julia Baird stated that Tiger Woods "is not a politician, priest, or morals crusader. He is an athlete." She then went on to question, "Why do we even pretend that sports-people are models of propriety?" and say that "You'd think, from the response to Woods's plea, that the right to privacy no longer exists for anyone who dares to excel." I can obviously understand her claim that privacy is a forgotten virtue. However, in the case of Tiger Woods, that argument does not hold water for one reason: Tiger Woods is a public figure. He is a renowned golf player and has been in the spotlight for quite some time. Not only does he appear on television when there are golf tournaments, but he has also appeared in various commercials advertising Gillette razors for men. He is, without a doubt, 100%, a public figure, and as we journalism majors know, public figures enjoy less freedom of privacy than the average citizen.
An on-going battle between celebrities and the paparazzi over the right to privacy continues to fester, and almost every time that a legal suit is brought against the paparazzi, the courts usually rule in the favor of the media. Why? Because celebrities and public figures, for the most part, chose to take on that role and thrust themselves in the public eye. I can understand the frenzy surrounding the protection of celebrities' children, for instance, because not only are they minors, they did not choose that life.
Yet Tiger Woods should not be granted any more or any less of a right to privacy than his fellow celebrities and public figures. The media coverage surrounding his alleged affairs is typical for someone of his popularity. Before this scandal emerged, I would venture to say that Tiger Woods led a fairly private life. I rarely heard anything about him. If he wanted to keep it that way, he should have either kept his affairs pristine (as in cover his tracks), or he should have not engaged in affairs at all.

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