Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Transgressions Damage Control: Where Does Tiger Woods Go from Here?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Transgressions Damage Control: Where Does Tiger Woods Go from Here?

Article excerpt

It's perhaps the worst bogey of Tiger Woods' life, and it took place far from the golf course and the world of dazzling drives and fist pumps. And just like at the Masters, there's no mulligan.

In a bizarre series of events, an early-morning car accident involving a tree and a fire hydrant turned into refusals to talk to police, insinuations of spousal abuse, tabloid stories of extramarital affairs, and, on Wednesday a stunning - especially for Mr. Woods - admission that he's "far short of perfect" and did things that were "not ... true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."

As the mystery deepened around the auto mishap that left Woods dazed and bloodied, it put the golfer, one of the world's most preeminent and private sports figures, in an unenviable position: Risk more feverish speculation by keeping quiet, or nip the PR nightmare in the bud by telling all.

The puppy-eyed golfer's tack so far appears to be: Stay true to form, don't fan the flames, wait for the publicity wildfire to die down.

Staying mum can be risky

It's a risky gambit and could instead fuel speculation and subsequent backlash around not only his endorsement deals, but the sport that he, more than any other golfer, represents around the world. But stoic silence could also work, says Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, in Eugene, Ore.

"The people who are latching onto this and fanning the flames are driven by the titillation of the scandal," says Mr. Swangard. "What Tiger is now trying to do is not give them anything to run with. He's not going to drag himself into this, even though there could be absolutely some there there."

Fellow golfer John Daly, meanwhile, called on Tiger to do the opposite, for the good of the sport and himself. "The thing Tiger needs to look at is, whatever happened, just tell the truth," Mr. Daly said.

Letterman and Sanford

Public confession carries its own risks.

Faced with a blackmail attempt, late-night talk-show host David Letterman, to uncomfortable laughter, admitted his dalliances, and the story largely blew over. For South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a tearful admission of an extramarital affair still haunts him, as the legislature prepares impeachment proceedings over his five-day disappearance this summer when he was visiting his mistress in Argentina.

In his statement Woods denied accusations that his injuries were caused by his wife of five years, Elin Nordegren. He also hinted at the personal philosophy that has guided a long career in which the world of golf was separated by an iron wall from his family, a separation that the media and his fans have, until now, largely respected. Even on Wednesday, much of the sports press has been somewhat subdued with its coverage of Woods' ordeal.

"[N]o matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy," Woods wrote on his website Wednesday. …

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