Thursday, March 25, 2010

Didn't ESPN Know That Tiger Was Cheating?

cross-posted at Dagblog

After a televised statement, and then a very brief exclusive televised interview, Tiger Woods plans to give another press conference at the beginning of the Master's. All of these press availabilities are on the same subject: his admitted infidelities to his wife. And after each one to date, the media, especially the sports media, has the same verdict: Tiger hasn't said enough. He needs to be more "open." He needs to answer every question that crosses sportswriters' and sportscasters' minds. But the sports media have absolutely no right to ask for more. They are tremendous hypocrites for asking.

Tiger Woods went pro in the spring of 1997. Between turning pro and having his sex life spill into public, he was relentlessly covered by the sports media for twelve solid years. During that period of saturation coverage, Woods has having sex with, according to the most recent reliable estimates, everybody. Much of that extramarital sex happened, naturally, while Tiger was away from home on the pro golf tour, which is to say while a phalanx of traveling sports reporters were obsessively covering him.

How did a small legion of fanatically attentive sports reporters fail to notice that their #1 story was sleeping with a medium-sized legion of women? How could they be so dense? The answer is that they weren't so dense, and they didn't fail to notice. They had to be well aware that Tiger Woods was not faithful to his wife. They just chose not to report it, because it wasn't news and it isn't anybody's business. Now, the golfing press might not have known, or wished to know, the extent or the scale of Tiger's social schedule. They didn't know every date or every name. But it's hard to believe that Woods could entirely conceal his lifestyle from them. Reporters had to have seen him with women not his wife, and noticed that the women who were not his wife changed from venue to venue. Of course, they were free to participate in the polite fiction that they did not notice. But demanding that the rest of us participate in that fiction is not cool.

Tiger can't be the only elite golfer who's committed adultery while he was on tour; there are others carrying on their lives, right now, with ESPN and Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest turning a blind eye. And golf is not the only sport where wealthy athletes do some cheating on the road. It happens in baseball, football, pro basketball, hockey, tennis ... you name it. An NBA player can have a different lady friend in all 29 road cities. And sports writers don't cover that, either. Until, of course, they're shocked! shocked! to discover that there's nookie going on.

It's fine that sports writers didn't cover Tiger's personal life. I prefer it that way. But their high-and-mighty moralizing about the story they wouldn't cover, and tearing Woods down for not telling them things that they spent years choosing not to ask him, is both an insult to the viewers' intelligence and a disgusting act of effrontery: like listening to a pack of sewer rats pontificating about hygiene.

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