Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Should we care about Tiger Woods?

I have only a tiny appreciation for golf, so my investment in Tiger Woods is nearly nil. Yet the story of his minor car accident from early in the morning a few days ago stands out. The facts of the case--such as we think we know them at this point--are odd. Woods left his house to drive his SUV in the (very, very) wee hours of the morning. He struck a tree and a fire hydrant at very low speed. His airbag did not deploy. A 911 caller told police that she saw Woods lying on the ground, apparently unconscious. Woods' wife was nearby with a golf club. Woods apparently suffered superficial injuries, particularly lacerations to the face.

Everything else so far is speculation and, for whatever reason, Woods seems to want nothing to close the story down, issuing only a short statement and refusing to speak with police about the matter.

I wouldn't begrudge Woods any of that. If he wants to take this story to his grave and never speak about it, so be it. That's his right. The worst-case stories suggest that Tiger's wife might not have been heroically liberating him from the SUV, but that's fine, too. Whatever the law may say about the subject, morally speaking, wives have some leeway for minor violence against their husbands in exceptional circumstances. So long as that street only runs one way, it would be perfectly reasonable to keep omerta. And as far as not talking to the cops--that's every American's right.

What bugs me is Woods' statement. Again, if you're going to go silent, go silent. Instead, Woods gives an affirmative explanation of events which seems, at least on its face, very strange. Most importantly, his statement includes a couple key lawyer words (most notably "false" and "malicious") which are there to serve only one purpose: Tell media outlets that they pursue this story at their own legal peril. Or, to put it less charitably, to bully reporters into not reporting the story, wherever it might lead.

If something unpleasant happened to Woods the other night, so be it. We never needed to know about it, no matter how curious we all might have been. But if Woods was less than truthful in his statement--and is playing the part of the legal bully--that strikes me as (1) Reflecting more poorly on Woods than any other part of this incident; and (2) A provocation, similar to Gary Hart daring reporters to make a liar out of him.

No comments: