Tiger Woods got in a slow-speed crack-up over the weekend that would not have been notable if the facts weren’t in dispute. In one version of the first story, Woods wife is the hero, tending to her husband at the scene of an accident. In another, she’s a wife striking out because of tabloid reports of an adulterous husband. There are few sports figures as celebrated as Tiger Woods, and he owes the public an explanation. It all begs questions about the cult of celebrity, domestic violence and what is and isn’t our business.
One thing that needs to be said is that the cover story, while not Sanford-esque, is as ridiculous a bit of fiction as there ever was. Late-night/early-morning exodus leaves car windows broken and a man dazed on the curb with a busted lip, wife standing over him like Ali stood over Liston. He was unconscious for six minutes, going less than 30 miles an hour? Really? You don’t have to be Maxwell Smart to see from the curb that all may not be right in the Woods’ abode. Theres more to the story.
But why is it our business?
For the sake of argument, let’s say Tiger was making a run for diapers and lost control of his car. If it was indeed an accident, then Tiger doesn’t really have a legal obligation to give any statement at all; he’ll get a ticket for failure to control a motor vehicle and keep it moving. That’s the rub though. This incident happens to coincide with allegations of Tiger’s infidelity, which could make this whole thing a case of domestic violence.
In most states, when police arrive at the scene of a domestic dispute and one of the two partners has bruises, someone has to go to jail. I don’t know that any low-speed crash could result in injuries that would render you unconscious with a busted lip, but a good right cross might do the trick. The first account seems plausible, but improbable, and pictures from the scene and the 911 call don’t tell us much. The police, who originally thought it was just an accident, want to talk to Tiger about the cuts and bruises on his face. After refusing to meet with police, Tiger released a statement taking full responsibility for the accident. End of the story? Not by a long shot.
Me? I think Tiger Woods is stiff-arming the cops because he doesn’t want them to take pictures of his injuries. If it looks like he was punched or scratched, then the cops will have to act. And if the final explanation for this event turns out to be domestic violence, police will not need a statement from Tiger, and his wife will have to go to jail for assault. Tiger should co-operate with police to put any incident of domestic violence on the record. This will protect him from any allegations in the future should he have to defend himself from an attack at a later date. Granted, this is all conjecture. But if they did indeed have a tiff that resulted in violence, how should they proceed?
Well, they can do one of two things: Get some counseling and be role models to other couples in turmoil, or continue to stonewall and soldier on without comment, and taint Tiger’s image while living in a dysfunctional relationship. Tiger wants to keep it a private matter, but he’s living his life in the public light. It’s one thing to guard your privacy. But when you hold yourself up as a role model, you have an obligation to be accountable to people who look up to you.