The Washington Times - November 30, 2009, 10:26AM

Tiger Woods wants his privacy.

But he sells that privacy every time he sells a credit card or juice drink or some other product.


Woods issued a statement on his web site Sunday, two days after his alleged car crash outside his suburban Orlando home in the dark early morning hours that allegedly resulted in cuts and bruises and an emergency 911 call and a trip to a local hospital.

Woods — who is freezing out the local police, who are now reportedly seeking a search warrant to determine if there was a car accident or something else, possibly an assault and a phony cover-up story involved —  is not pleased with all the reports and speculation surrounding the incident.

“As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries,” Woods is purported to have written on his web site. “I have some cuts, bruising and right now I’m pretty sore.  This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way,” Woods wrote. “Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible. The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife Elin acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.”

Well, Tiger surrendered that right to this kind of privacy a long time ago. And I am not talking about his status as a golf icon. You can argue that his role as one of the most popular professional athletes in the world makes his personal life fair game for speculation, but I would come down on the side that all Tiger Woods the golfer owes any of us is what happens on the golf course and issues related to that specific part of his life.

But when he or any other public figure steps out of that role and into the role of pitchman, they sell their right to personal privacy. They may not like it, they may not think about it when they are selling products, but it is a fair and perhaps unfortunate result that comes with coming into someone’s living room and asking them to trust you.

When you are selling Nike products, Gatorade, and American Express, you are asking people to believe in what you say not based on your performance on the golf course, but who you are. You are asking people to believe you, to trust you, to buy these products. You are selling your credibility.

That credibility, then, comes into question in an incident like this, where there are more questions than answers. That credibility comes into question when you refuse to meet with police three different times for a simple explanation of a so-called accident that appears to be more and more complex with each passing hour.

For Tiger and any other athlete selling their trust — if you want to keep your life private, don’t ask us to believe you about anything other than your performance in a contest.


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