In the wake of a sex scandal, Tiger Woods released a statement in which he admits "transgressions" but then asks for "privacy" in three of the five paragraphs.
Tiger Woods does not admit having affairs with Rachel Uchitel and Jaimee Grubbs -- both of whom have been linked to him or who have claimed a sexual affair with him.
He was circumspect in his written statement, saying: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."
I think we can all read between the lines.
Woods puts it this way: "The virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family."
So, when the world's most famous athlete -- worth a supposed billion dollars from his endorsement deals and a role model for children -- apparently cheats on his wife, refuses to talk to police and lies to his family, does he deserve privacy for personal "transgressions"?
Depends on whom you ask. And seemingly, a male/female split.
From the day the story broke – Friday after Thanksgiving, usually a quiet day news-wise -- my girlfriends (all married) were e-mailing, Facebook-status-updating, commenting with disdain and outrage:
"Sigh. They're all cheaters aren't they?"
". . . is this really the same wonderful Tiger that cusses on live TV and throws clubs??. .and who still gets paid by Nike and many others that look the other way? Good golfer, bad sport and now bad husband . . ."
"Ugh stupid pre-nup, I want her to get all the money and be able to go find someone nice."
Also, most of my girlfriends also think his wife was chasing him with the golf club, which caused him to speed away and hit a tree.
Woods denies these rumors, saying in his first released statement:
"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."
My girlfriends don't believe Woods' statement. They write:
"I would have beat the crap out of him, too."
"Baled out of HIS OWN charity event!"
"What do you think? She beat him or he was on drugs and delirious?"
"Mrs. Woods in the driveway with the golf club"
"I hope Elin connected with his "balls" they way she connected with those caddie windows with the 9 iron."
As you see, my girlfriends almost all think Woods deserves a beating from his wife but doesn't deserve privacy.
Women shake their heads in disappointment, but not surprise.
Male friends, being men, generally think that Tiger deserves privacy, and that being a famous and rich athlete is somehow an excuse to cheat on his wife with various women. (Yes, of course, my tone is sarcastic because I think my male friends are wrong).
Do men defend him because they are scared themselves of getting caught cheating? Or do men defend him because they think famous, talented athletes have some sort of right to cheat?
At an event called "Characters Unite National Town Hall" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, I asked two male celebrities their opinion on whether Tiger Woods has the right to privacy in his personal life.
"I'm not talking about that. This event is not about Tiger Woods," NBC News' Tom Brokaw
I followed him as he walked away, saying that this event was a discussion of race relations in America and wasn't Tiger well-known as a mixed-race athlete who transcended race to be the most famous of any athlete? (The topic was "a conversation on how we can find strength in our differences and become more united.")
"He [Tiger Woods] never made [his racial heritage] an issue," said Brokaw.
Well, this panel discussed character and setting an example for future generations, so why wasn't Tiger Woods relevant? "He and his family deserve the privacy to work on their family problems." Brokaw wasn't budging from his position, so I gave up the debate, moving to the next celebrity.
"Tiger is a role model [and] because he's going through this, he can show people that you can go through things, you can make mistakes, but that's the be-all, end-all," actor Dule Hill, formerly of "West Wing" and now starring in the USA Network show "Psych," told me.
To his credit, Hill was willing to debate the issue with me in the hallway of the Newseum. I asked how privacy was relevant when Tiger Woods was rich and powerful because of his fame.
Hill pointed out that Woods is "rich because he's good at what he does."
But, Woods actually got the big bucks for endorsing products, not for winning golf tournaments. "He got his endorsements because of what he does," said Hill.
Okay, setting aside the money and fame aspect, isn't Tiger Woods letting people down because he's a role model for children around the world?
"I don't think he's let people down," Hill said. "Part of having character is knowing when you made a mistake, admitting you made a mistake and moving forward. It's not about when you're knocked out; it's about when you start back up."
Hill reflected on the topic of the day -- character and strength in our difference. "Tiger is still a role model . . . Best thing he can do is try to do better tomorrow."
"Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We will all make more mistakes," Hill said. "I can guarantee you this won't be the last mistake he or anyone else will make. Let's get past the point of needing to be perfect." I found myself nodding in agreement.
Does Hill think that actors, celebrities, politicians and athletes should be held to a higher standard of character because they are role models for children?
"Individuals in general have a responsibility to children, not just celebrities and politicians," Hill responded, and I agreed. "I think we need to change our focus. I think we hold celebrities and politicians way too high. You're just like me." He makes a good point.
But, it's not just the other famous men who think Tiger Woods deserves privacy. Main Street men seem to defend Woods too. My male Twitter followers were united in their position:
"I think he did express embarrassment and remorse. But he's right in that the details are no one's biz but him & his family"
"despicable? yes. But also not fair 4 wife/kids to pay for his sins-&invading his privacy is invading theirs. So sad4 wife/kids"
"not quite fair--he is not elected rep/did not commit crime, he owes no explanation/apology to u, me, or anyone else"
Tiger Woods' right to privacy about his relationships seems to be a male/female split, and neither side can understand the other's position.
As for this female, I think if Tiger Woods wants privacy for his personal life, he should give back all the money and quit golf. Then, he can have all the privacy he wants.
Follow me on Twitter @EmilyMillerDC
Tagged: definition trangression
, dule hill
, elin woods
, Jaimee Grubbs
, Rachel Uchitel
, tiger woods
, tom brokaw