Florida police have closed their investigation of golf superstar Tiger Woods’ s Thanksgiving car accident. He has been issued a citation for $164 and four points towards his license. There. That’s what’s new in this story.
Now to get to my “social media and the future of news” obligation. Tiger Woods handled the situation without consulting typical media outlets. He did not hold a press conference. He did not answer reporters’ questions. He did not even make himself available to the police for a statement. He informed the public of all he had to say about his accident through his web site. Talk about skipping the middle man, ie. the future of sports news. Here is what he had to say:
“As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. 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. 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.
This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.”
Many members of the media have criticized Tiger for not saying more. Many have said that he owes the public and his fans a more honest explanation of the event that occurred early Friday morning outside his multi-million dollar home. To these members of the media I have one thing to say: Tiger owes us nothing.
His accident is a private matter. It involved one vehicle, his own, and no one besides himself was hurt. He does not have to, by law, make a statement to police. He did not break any laws, besides some minor traffic infractions, and alcohol did not play a part in the accident, according to police. He does not have to tell us why he was leaving his home at 2:30 in morning, either.
Sure, I want to know as badly as the next guy what really happened that night. I want to know why he left his home, why he crashed his car a stone’s throw away from his driveway, why he had cuts on his lips and face, why he had blood in his mouth. I want to know it all.
Without making the situation any less vague, Tiger does leave himself open for speculation. I have speculated a bunch myself. Maybe he was leaving his house to go get a microwave burrito from the gas station down the street and in his haste he neglected to put his seat belt on and even forgot to turn at the end of his driveway and subsequently drove his Escalade right over a fire hydrant and into a tree.
Maybe his daughter was sick that night. He was in a rush to go get some medicine, perhaps some Pepto Bismol, so his daughter could sleep soundly and he could have peace of mind when it was time for him to go to sleep that night.
But maybe, just maybe the rumors that have surfaced in the last week about his infidelity are true. Maybe his wife got liquored up on Thanksgiving and after putting their children to sleep, she started an argument with him. Maybe she accused him of sneaking around with a woman from New York, like the tabloids are saying. Maybe she sucker punched Tiger right in the mouth, causing blood to be found there later by police. Maybe Tiger decided to get away from here and clear his head. Maybe while he was getting into his SUV his wife began to chase after him, golf club in hand. Maybe as he got half way down the driveway she caught up with him and smashed through his back window. Maybe she then fell to the pavement because she swung the club with such velocity. Maybe Tiger was concerned for his wife and the mother of his children’s well being so he turned around in his seat to see if she was all right. Maybe then he drove over the fire hydrant and crashed into a tree. Maybe he never got a chance to put his seat belt on and banged his head into the steering wheel and was knocked unconscious.
We all can choose what we want to believe. I know what I believe, and I think I made that pretty clear. The fact of the matter is, if Tiger does not want to clear up any speculation about it he does not have to. We should respect his and his family’s privacy in dealing with this private matter.
There are members of the media demanding answers and demanding that he tells the public exactly what happened, saying that his fans deserve to know all the details. What kills me is that all sports journalists started out as fans and now here they go torturing this poor guy who has done everything in his power to please them – as journalists as well as fans.
Tiger Woods is one of the classiest athletes to ever grace this earth. To my knowledge he has never shied away from an interview, rejected a fan’s request for an autograph, or left the 18th green without shaking his opponents hand – win or lose.
In an era where athletes are being arrested for driving while under the influence, incarcerated for running illegal dog fighting circuits or shooting themselves in a night club, using steroids, being caught with controlled substances, and beating their wives – here’s Tiger; as clean an athlete as we’ve ever seen and probably will ever see.
We have seen him at his best – winning major after major, getting his first green jacket, beating Rocco Mediate on one leg, driving the ball further than you or I could even dream of doing. We have also seen him at his worst – mourning the loss of his father on national television, and now this; a potential house-breaking, family splitting clusterfuck that is all over the news.
To anyone that thinks that Tiger Woods owes us something, anything at all – he doesn’t. We may actually owe him a thing or two.
But perhaps that’s just the fan in me.