December 1, 2009
[Brief updated on Dec. 3.]
By now it’s been widely reported that champion golfer Tiger Woods was involved in an unexplained, single-car accident around 2:30 a.m. Friday near the driveway of his home in Windermere, Fla., and that news of the accident took 13 hours to become public.
The 33-year-old Woods is famous for guarding his privacy, but whether the accident turns out to be just a minor embarrassment or it develops into an image-denting scandal possibly involving marital discord, not even Woods can hide from the news cycle of the Internet and the 24-hour cable networks, says sports writer Gary Van Sickle in an article published at Golf.com.
As Van Sickle notes, for Woods the timing could hardly be worse. He was scheduled to host his own post-season tournament in Southern California, the Chevron World Challenge, which raises money for his charitable foundation, this coming weekend.
However, Woods has already announced that he will not attend the tournament. While he might be able to skip his own event and avoid the inevitable media frenzy, Woods can’t dodge questions about his accident indefinitely, and stonewalling is a bad option, Van Sickle writes.
What Woods should do, Van Sickle says, is take control of the story, explain what happened, and get it over with. Until then his fans will be left to ponder the unanswered questions themselves, and to get their information from media that specialize in entertainment, not in news gathering.
On Sunday, Woods issued a statement on his Web site that offered few details on the accident. “This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again,” Woods said in the post. “This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”
On Wednesday, Woods issued another statement on his Web site. With an apology, Woods disclosed his “personal failings” and acknowledged he had not been “true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.” He did not mention the allegations of any affair, saying he would deal with his behavior and “personal failings alone with his family.”
Meanwhile, there’s already speculation on how the incident may impact Woods’ endorsement deals that total $100 million annually.
“I think this incident ultimately will have a negative effect on the Tiger Woods brand,” sports marketing expert Robert Tuchman, executive vice president of New York-based sports and entertainment marketing company Premiere Global Sports, told AdAge. “Regardless of the facts, there are brand marketers who might pass at looking at him now. I think as this situation unfolds and how he handles himself will determine the long-term effects to his image. The best thing he can do is be completely honest and open about the situation and what took place.” — Greg Beaubien
For further reading: Off-Course, Request for "Quit Please!" Hurts Tiger Woods (PRSAY blog)