If you’re rich are you news?
It seems that for better or worse, Tiger Woods is still one of the most famous athletes in the world. Unfortunately for him, however, it’s not his long drive or clutch putting that’s making headlines. Well, it’s not his clutch putting, anyway. Recently, Woods has been under a high amount of media scrutiny regarding alleged affairs he’s had in the recent past with up to seven different women. Obviously, this has raised more than a few questions, such as, “Why might someone who’s married to a blonde Swedish supermodel want to have an affair?” and, “Seven?!”
But there’s a couple questions regarding the Woods situation that I keep asking myself, one of them being, “Should I care?” Of course, this situation is like many others where the issue of media scrutiny into celebrities’ lives comes into question. How much attention should ultimately be given to the personal lives of famous people, especially regarding some of the more seedy details?
The first thing that pops into my mind is that people, even famous people, deserve some privacy concerning their private lives. And really, that’s all fine and dandy when we’re talking about your average celebrity. But then I stopped and thought for a moment about the far-reaching fame a figure like Tiger Woods has. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the potential exposure he has to a wide range of people. Never mind that he’s the number one-ranked golfer in the world, one of the most famous figures in modern professional sports and the highest paid athlete of all time (with an estimated net worth of $600 million).
His huge exposure comes from the fact that he’s not only known as one of the most talented athletes of all time, but also one of the most marketable.
Everything from TAG Heuer watches to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game series sport Tiger Woods’ larger-than-life namesake and likeness. He has written as a columnist in Golf Digest magazine since 1997, designed his own golf courses and established several charitable and youth-oriented projects. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame as well as The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. On top of all this, he also spoke at President Obama’s inaugural address.
What does this long and winding resume say about Woods? Besides demonstrating his ambition, it shows that whether you realize it or not, Tiger Woods reaches the eyes and ears of millions of consumers every day. Whether you drink his special brand of Gatorade or purchase his endorsed Nike gear, Tiger Woods certainly means at least something to a lot of people.
But does even a monstrous amount of fame and influence permit such scrutiny into a celebrity’s life as has been witnessed over the past couple of weeks? The answer to me is no. My reasoning is that if it were anyone else with a more average amount of wealth and fame, this would simply not be news. While some might call his alleged “transgressions,” among other things morally questionable he has not been accused of doing anything illegal or somehow involving his professional life with said transgressions. Like it or not, zooming in on Woods’ life during some rather trying family times is, in a way, discriminatory. By that I mean that in this situation, the attention isn’t regarding what the person allegedly did; it’s regarding the status of the person in question. You have to admit this much press would almost certainly not be given to a non-celebrity for the same actions.
Of course some people would say that when one has that much money and fame, it somewhat makes up for the fact that your private life will indeed be scrutinized for millions of media consumers to see. But, and I hate to be that slippery-slope-where-is-the-line-exactly kind of guy, that leaves a few gray areas concerning what you can do in your private life depending on how much money and fame you have. How much money must one acquire before their private lives can be put under a magnifying glass? Apparently Woods is wealthy enough to intrude into his private life, but what about someone with half the net worth, or perhaps half of that? Can someone with only $900,000 in the bank engage in affairs without worrying about media scrutiny, but a millionaire would be refused the same privilege?
One should also remember that Woods has technically only admitted, “transgressions” in a public statement, and not explicitly stated any extramarital involvement with any of the seven women in question. But even if he did, it’s technically none of our business. Even if he makes a million dollars a day, his private life is still his private life and more importantly, not news.
Dave Coffey is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.