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Is Tiger Woods' Personal Life Anyone's Business?

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Is Tiger Woods' Personal Life Anyone's Business?


Is Tiger Woods' Personal Life Anyone's Business?

Is Tiger Woods' Personal Life Anyone's Business?

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Golfer Tiger Woods confessed in a statement to "transgressions" and letting his family down. Woods' car crash last week outside his home has led to frenzied speculation about his personal life. Michael Rosenberg, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, says if it's not about golf, Woods owes us no explanation.


Today, Tiger Woods issued a five-paragraph apology on his Web site. The world's top golfer said: I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. And Woods concluded: I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology. At the same time, he asked for some simple, human measure of privacy.

All this after a middle-of-the-night car accident that landed Tiger Woods in the hospital. And much speculation in the tabloids and beyond about his rumored extramarital affairs.

So, did Tiger Woods owe his fans an apology? Why shouldn't this stay a private family matter?

Sports columnist Michael Rosenberg, with the Detroit Free Press, has some strong opinions on this. Welcome to the program, Michael.

Mr. MICHAEL ROSENBERG (Sports Columnist, Detroit Free Press): Thank you.

BLOCK: And earlier this week, you wrote: Americans have a right to screw up their own marriages. But whether Tiger Woods did or not, you say, is not our business. But here he is today with this mea culpa. What do you think?

Mr. ROSENBERG: Well, I think it got to the point for Tiger where he felt like he had to say something just to kind of stop the onslaught of negative stories. But I really don't see why the public has any right or need to know what's going on in Tiger Woods' private life. He never presented himself as perfect. He never told people how they should live their lives. All he ever really said was: I'm a great golfer, and I value my privacy.

BLOCK: No accident, I suppose, that this apology today came pretty soon after the magazine US Weekly posted audio of a voicemail message, apparently, of Tiger Woods asking a woman, a cocktail waitress, to take her name off her voicemail. He tells her his wife went through his phone and may be calling her. Do you think that was maybe the trigger for what happened next?

Mr. ROSENBERG: Oh, there's no doubt. I mean, there was the initial report that he had an affair, and he didn't want to talk about it. And then there's another report and there are other ones coming out, apparently. And I think he felt like he had to say something. So it's out there. And now if another woman comes forward, then he can say, hey, I've already addressed this and move on.

BLOCK: He is, of course, you know, the billion-dollar man here. He's got endorsements, you know, from here to kingdom come. The sponsors at this point seem to say they're sticking with him: Nike, Gatorade, a lot of others. Do you think that support is unwavering, that he's simply a great guy for their business no matter what may have happened behind closed doors?

Mr. ROSENBERG: Well, it certainly is all business for them. And if they feel like they need to make a new business decision, then they will do that. It's not going to be about right or wrong for Nike. But Americans have survived far bigger transgressions than this one, and Tiger Woods is going to be just fine.

I don't know, maybe he'll go on "Oprah," and he'll become somewhat of a sympathetic figure. I mean, the fact is that this guy is an unbelievably compelling athlete, and that's not going to change.

BLOCK: Can you imagine him going on "Oprah"? I mean, this is a guy who has famously guarded his privacy and his family's privacy. He's not out there all the time shaking hands. I mean, anything but.

Mr. ROSENBERG: Well, it's certainly not what he would prefer, but he has to recognize the situation it is. I guess in golf terms, if you're in the trap, you're in the trap. You've got to get out of it one way or the other. So if his handlers and he decide that he needs to do that, then he can do that.

BLOCK: It does seem to me to be - there's just some hypocrisy here. I mean, Tiger Woods was not named in a prostitution ring. He wasn't arrested in a men's room. He wasn't beating up a girlfriend. I mean, why should he have to say anything at all besides to his wife and his family?

Mr. ROSENBERG: Well, one thing the mainstream media - that we're really not good at is stopping covering a story. It was a legitimate story when Tiger got in a car accident. And then we start to think maybe this is part of the reason. And people just can't pull back and say, wait a second, that first story is done; we don't need to stick with this.

A lot of people have said, hey, he's a role model. This isn't about Tiger Woods being a role model. This is about Tiger Woods being a source of entertainment for people.

BLOCK: Michael Rosenberg is a sports columnist with the Detroit Free Press. Michael, thanks very much.

Mr. ROSENBERG: Thank you so much.

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