Is anyone else just the tiniest bit grossed out by the current public fascination surrounding Tiger Woods? I like a good celebrity implosion as much as the rest of you, but this seems like too much speculation to me. I’ll be eating a bunch of crow if somehow the “truth” comes out, but all the good stuff, the allegations of an affair, the “Kobe special,” the suspicion of domestic abuse, is based on the second-hand assertion of unnamed sources who are talking to TMZ, the National Enquirer, and various other tabloids. The truth is, we’re dying for some juicy gossip about Woods and his family and perfectly willing to make it up if he won’t provide it.
Now people are saying that the Woods family owes us all an explanation—a.k.a., all the gory details of that night in Florida. Sorry, they don’t. And I, for one, am grateful for that. If they don’t owe the police an explanation, that’s good enough for me.
It’s not, however, good enough for Rick Reilly. The ESPN sportswriter claims that Tiger has an obligation to come forth with the truth—for the kids:
He's an educator. He started and runs the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Orange County, Calif., a place where kids go to learn about golf, the world, and personal responsibility, like how to be honest.
Until Woods answers some questions, he is only teaching his students that the best thing to do in a crisis is to run and hide.
Please. It’s not about family values. It’s about being nosy. This might be our best chance to get into the personal business of one of the most famous and private athletes in the world.
I’ve taken the liberty of pulling out some of questions that Reilly feels must be answered and providing some perfectly logical, totally hypothetical explanations, just to show you some of the more innocent and thus boring rationales for Woods's behavior. These speculative but plausible scenarios are hardly TMZ fodder, as you'll see:
1. What made him lose control of his car?
a. He dropped his iPod.
b. He pressed the gas instead of the brake.
c. He swerved to avoid an animal.
d. He was talking on the cell phone.
I have been guilty of all of the above myself and imagine most people have found themselves in at least one of these scenarios.
2. Why did it happen at 2:25 a.m.?
a. He has two small children—maybe they needed something from the store.
b. Perhaps he had a yearning for some peppermint ice cream.
c. His mind was racing, so he took a drive to calm his thoughts.
d. He was taking his regular late-night security check.
Are any of these less plausible than his wife chasing him down the driveway with a 3-iron?
3. If his wife, Elin, was indeed coming to his aid as he lay unconscious in the front seat of his Cadillac Escalade, why did she smash out the rear windows?
a. Perhaps she didn’t want to smash glass all over his already injured body.
c. Maybe she didn’t have keys and wanted to get to the unlock buttons as quickly as possible.
Does anybody have any idea how they would react to the sight of their spouse lying unconscious in a car that’s wrapped around a tree? I’d probably smash all the windows, too, as well as howl like a dog and throw up.
4. Why won't he speak to the Florida Highway Patrol about the accident?
a. He doesn’t have to—no charges have been filed.
b. He values his privacy. Police departments tend to leak like a sieve to any tabloid waving a checkbook.
c. He’s already told them everything. (See a.)
d. He’s letting his lawyer do the talking, which is a wise move with all the rumors flying around. (See b.)
It has already been announced that the FHP is looking for evidence of a crime (though Bloomberg says it will likely be a careless driving ticket, nothing more). If you were in that same situation, wouldn’t you lawyer up, too? (You would if you knew your civil rights.)
5. Did the report from the National Enquirer just days before that he was seeing another woman play a role in the early-morning wreck?
Let me stop here. How is that relevant? Unless the alleged other woman was standing in the driveway and Tiger tried to run her over, I don’t see how answering that question does anything but satisfy our own curiosity. Suppose the Woodses did argue and Tiger did crash his car in an attempt to leave and cool off: so what? Now we know that he acts like any number of spouses fleeing an escalating argument. Would you want 6-plus billion people privy to your marital spats? (If Mrs. Woods was beating the crap out of him, it’s police business, but if not, it’s between them and their auto insurer.)
Let’s give Tiger a break. We have no idea what happened, and it looks like we probably won’t ever know. I know my way around gossip—I can sling it with the best of them—and unless more information comes out, this story is too speculative to be of any real interest. And just because we want it to be all racy and controversial, doesn’t mean it really is.
Raina Kelley is a senior writer at NEWSWEEK.