Updated: Athletes and Senators are not the same…
Sean Hannity was busy this afternoon comparing the public responsibility of Tiger Woods to that of elected officials. They’re the same, he says, because when you become a “public figure” your private life is no longer private. So people like Tiger are wrong when they say that their’ private indiscretions shouldn’t require public confessions. They are examples and role models, whether they want to be or not.
In this line of reasoning, Tiger’s infidelity is as significant to the public (and as much of a violation of trust) as those of Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford. These men all “became” public figures, making them responsible for being morally trustworthy and confessing their mistakes to the country.
Of course, these elected officials didn’t just “become” public figures, they sought it. They made speeches, built themselves up, and trashed their opponents to get votes. And, as in any political campaign, the integrity of the candidate is a huge part of their appeal. So they build it up, and ask you to vote based on the image they present. They want your trust, and they promise they’ll earn it later.
But Tiger doesn’t deserve this kind of scrutiny. His private problems should be private, even when he has a very public (and at the time, suspicious) car accident in the middle of the night. No athlete should have to make a statement of this kind of personal nature. The same goes for actors, musicians, or any other kind of entertainer.
Athletes didn’t ask for votes. They didn’t try to convince you that they are trustworthy. And their actions don’t affect the public in any significant way. They got famous for doing something well. Hitting, throwing, catching, shooting…whatever. They have responsibility to their employers, and their personal circles. that goes even further for musicians, actors, and individual athletes like golfers and tennis players, who have no real organization to answer to.
Maybe they want to keep their image, like David Letterman. Or maybe they don’t care, like Ron Artest. But however you look at it, it’s not our business.
UPDATE: “Ad Man”
A friend of mine has mentioned that Tiger is an “ad man”.
Tiger (and any other pitch man) is looking for your trust and confidence that the products they rep are quality goods.
Tiger did not accidentally and unwillingly become a public figure.
True, but he’s less looking for trust and confidence than playing on the trust and confidence we automatically give to successful and clean cut stars. Michael Jordan did the same, but I don’t think he needed to publicly apologize for his infidelities. Companies exploit his stardom to sell merchandise, and he gets paid for it. It has nothing to do with you or me, it’s between Tiger and his sponsors. If he ruins his reputation and can’t sell crap anymore, he has to answer to them, not us.
If Tiger had sat down and said, “I’m worth $1 billion, I’m already one of the greatest golfers ever, and I’m only 33. I don’t need this. I can play golf at any of these venues any time I want. I’m not saying another word to the public,” – that would be his business. He doesn’t owe me an explanation. But you had better believe that if my governor takes off to Argentina for the weekend on state money and lies about where he’s going, we all deserve an explanation, and an apology. Because his work affects us. Does Tiger’s infidelity make you worry about what else Buick wasn’t telling you? Probably not…