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The sporting moral maze

Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

I imagine most of us, at some time over the last month, have found ourselves having a conversation about Tiger Woods.

How did he get away with it for so long? Has his reputation been damaged beyond repair? What kind of Christmas will he, Elin and the kids be having?

In recent weeks, that most secretive of sports stars has had to deal with the intimate details of his private life being bared to the world.

But - beyond our understandable fascination at the recent revelations - do we have a right to know about what goes on behind closed doors at the Woods' family mansion? Or more pertinently - in hotel rooms near golf venues around the world?

Does Tiger have the right to keep his private life private?

Or do sportspeople lose their right to privacy when they cross the white line?

It's a question we're asking on the latest edition of A Sporting Moral Maze on 5 Live Sport tonight - and I'd love to hear your views.

Since he won his first major tournament in 1997, the year he turned pro, Tiger Woods has become a role model, as a staggeringly successful golfer, but also crucially as a successful black golfer.

Tiger Woods
Does Tiger have the right to keep his private life private?

But does that mean he has to operate to a higher standard of behaviour than the rest of us?

After all, he's not a politician, a minister of religion who can set down moral guidelines for his or her flock, or even a children's TV presenter - the kind of person who we expect to be generally clean living.

We'll be talking tonight to former FIA boss Max Mosley, who last summer successfully sued the News of the World over claims that he had taken part in an orgy with Nazi overtones.

He was awarded substantial damages for invasion of privacy, claiming that what went on in his private life had no bearing on the way he did his job.

After the ruling, the editor of the News of the World questioned whether the press in this country was truly free.

But when it comes to sports stars - where do you draw the line between salacious gossip and stories which are actually in the public interest?

We'll be asking whether sportspeople have a responsibility to their fans to behave themselves away from the golf course, the football stadium or tennis arena - or, just as pertinently, to the companies they take money from in sponsorship?

While management consultancy firm Accenture have dropped Tiger, saying he's "no longer the right representative", his main sponsor Nike have offered him their "full support".

So should we ignore the transgressions in his personal life and just focus on what a great golfer he is?

Apart from Max Mosley - who should have some fascinating insights into the whole subject - we'll hear from a newspaper man and from a lawyer who specialises in "protecting the reputations of high profile individuals".

Let me know your thoughts too, here before the programme, and while we're on air from 8-9, then back here afterwards.


  • Comment number 1.

    whats interesting is societys acceptance that everyone cheats on thier partners

    like its a part of normal life now

    "oh everyone cheats, leave tiger alone"

    shows how the world is going really if people cannot stay loyal to one person..

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    and second

  • Comment number 4.

    Woods tries to play the "buteer would not melt" nice man of sport who earns millions and millions from indorsements. If I do something in my private life that effects my work I would expect to lose my job or at least gets punished. This is no different from Woods who is paid for his clean and nice image and therefore he should practice what he preaches.

    Put my name on the front of Coke or whatever and I will stop sleeping with hot blonde women from around the world. Until that happens I will continue my mindless sex with beautiful ladies!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Mosely did things without financial or personal gain from his private affairs. We are in current financial turmoil and shaking the stick at all of our bankers for irresponsible spending and getting ridiculous bonuses. These bonuses are nothing in comparison to what Tiger makes from a squeaky clean image and family man status. In the same way he has emulated his father Earl, it will now be widely accepted for youngsters to follow. Privacy was revoked as soon as he broke his facade and confessed. However, now that he is normal, who really cares about his private life. I'd rather just continue to watch descent golf and see him make sporting history rather than create idol chit chat about how many blondes he's knocked off! Whether it's 1 or 100 I'd hope he at least remembered which record he was trying to break!? And she'll walk away with half a billion quid! Not bad for five years work! Between the two of them, I'm sure they'll survive!

  • Comment number 6.

    If people are genuinely worried about the morality of sport, which I doubt, then questions should be raised across the board. If we are to look beyond Tiger Woods for examples of clean living, moral worthiness etc then we should also examine the working practices of the sponsors involved in sport and in particular their relationship to the developing world and child labour. But most people aren't concerned enough to ask those difficult questions and I would suspect that most people have no great concern for the moral virtues of their sporting heroes, the adulation of Premiership footballers seems to prove that. We are all human and have a natural curioisty about other peoples lives especially those that seem to exist on pedestals. So let's just be honest and stop pretending that these people are shinning beacons of morality - they are up there because they are good at kicking/hitting a ball - no more no less and in so doing we can all avoid the difficult questions surrounding sport.

  • Comment number 7.

    Interesting statement that Tiger crossed a 'white line'.

    For the media to question whether or not Tiger's transgressions are in the public interest is somewhat disingenuous because the media are not going to leave him alone or anyone else in the public eye that when they can stick it to them.

    As a golfer, as the most dominant sports person of the last decade it doesn't actually matter what he does behind closed doors - even if those doors are at the Bellagio and the missus isn't around.

    But if he sells himself as a role model to kids and for families then there is a right to ask the moral question - which then has a knock on effect on business but the effect on business will be the most important information for those he is in business with. Accenture aren't a family business but trust and integrity are important to them so not all publicity is good publicity. Nike built their golf business on Tiger so they aren't going anywhere - and I could see YouTube generating some great spoof AT&T.

    But really the moral question for Tiger affects his foundation as that is where he has tried to be a personal role model and give opportunity to the socially and economically disadvantaged.

    This is different to the question at hand though which is whether he has a right to a private life. Simple answer yes and it doesn't matter if it was to help him 'transgress' or not.

    There seems to be a lot of whining on here about how Tiger should be a stand up guy, stay faithful, stay married etc. etc.

    But the media set a 'moral' standard because they know full well that no-one is going to meet that standard all the time.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tiger has a right to privacy - just like I do. He is not some arbiter of moral fortitude. He is not my dad, husband or son. He's simply the greatest golfer of all time. What he does should remain his business if he so wishes......

    .....however, it was naive on his part to think it was going to remain private. Sleep with one woman who you trust and possibly love (it is possible to love two women) then maybe - 14 women were never going to stay quiet.

    Anyway, he was never my role model so though I think his actions have been disgusting, they won't make me behave any differently and won't stop me watching him play when he comes back.

  • Comment number 9.

    The sports that these people play do not demand that they adopt a higher moral code than the rest of us. It's the multi-million dollar sponsorship deals that demand that our sporting heroes are whiter-than-white. No global corporate entity wants to pay millions, in some case tens of millions, of dollars to have their talent shown to be a poor role model. Hence we now have sponsors dropping Tiger like he's a bad smell, but I don't see too many golf tournaments saying that he can't play.

  • Comment number 10.

    The dividing line is between those sports people that are successful at sport and those that make money out of advertising as a result of their success at sport. If you put yourself into the public eye on purpose to make money you cannot complain if it comes back and bits you!

  • Comment number 11.

    All it proves is that he's human.

    The saddening thing is the vulture like abandon with which it's plastered across our TV screens and newspapers. I just wish the media in general would realise that we don't care what happens in his private life - it's only in the public interest because the world media has collectively decided that it is - and what gives them the right to decide ?? Morally unimpeachable characters ?? No journalist has ever had an extra marital affair ?? Or liasons with people they shouldn't ?? I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to discover that some of the very same people that are trumpeting their outrage at his behaviour are guilty of exactly the same - or worse !!

    It doesn't make what he's done right, god knows the hurt and damage it's done to his wife and kids (because they're the real victims in all of this - not him, not the women he slept with and certainly not us) but it doesn't make it any of our damn business !!

  • Comment number 12.

    Unlike politicians and bankers funded by the tax payer, Tiger Woods isn't answerable to the public. I don't think anyone has the right to the details of his private life.

    Having said that, if I were a shareholder of Nike, Gilette, PepsiCo Etc., I would be keen to know about anything potentially damaging carried out by a patron of the company.

    On a personal note, he's the type of man that previously I would have sited as a good role model and an example of that fact not all men cheat. Perhaps I now have a moral right to know about his every action, and the same for anyone else in the public eye so that I don't go telling my wife not to worry because I'm just like them... only to find them being outed as a serial adulterer with a penchant for pornstars and rough sex!

    I don't hold any sympathy for his private life being scrutinised, and I don't belive for one moment his position in the public offers any sort of excuse for his actions. I hope he is abandoned by all his sponsors (credit to Accenture for saying he's no longer a suitable figurehead; shame on Nike for stating recent relevations make no difference to them) and left bankcrupt and lonely by a crippling/damaging divorce settlement.

  • Comment number 13.

    What Tiger did in his own time would be his business, but only if he wasn't a billion dollar sportsman! I think that a lot of the allegations are maybe exaggerated, even possibly false, but what is obvious is that he has made a mistake. He has apologised for it, and should be allowed to carry on with his career, should he so wish. I believe that he thought he would not get caught and so maybe got a little carried away, and it is by no means a minor indiscretion!
    The sponsors are possibly looking at the situation to favour themselves. Tiger is high draw, and very expensive if all the figures are to be believed, so why not make the most of the free advertising by dropping him, saving money but still benefitting! we all have heard more about acenture in the last 2 weeks than ever before, plus it is a good way to drop him if they feel he is getting too much in these tough times! $20 million a year from gatorade, they can drop him without consequence and still benefit!

    I am not a Tiger fan, I dont like the way he is petulent on the course. I have massive respect for his ability, he has amazing talent with the golf ball, but has always seemed robotic, almost sub human, at least now he shows he is human and has a weakness. Maybe divorce for him would mean he can have as many girls on the go as he wants until he is truly staed, then look at settling down...

    I think that this will blow over, it may take some time, but watch the sponsors fly back when it does, nike made almost 0 from golf before woods and now turn over 800 million!

  • Comment number 14.

    I think the key thing is that Tiger Woods has sold his image to a number of companies for very very consdierable amounts of money. He takes the money for appearing at various events and has cultivated an image that has appealed to the mainstream.

    Sportstars, musicians and film stars, who accept the huge pay, the endorsements and the money from the ads must accept that this payment comes with responsibilities to the sponsors who are paying it and also to the fans who buy into the dream.

    It is a Faustian pact and you must accept that if you take their dollars then you must play by their rules.

    Over the last twelve years Tiger has earned an amount of money and had a lifestyle that the average golfer who pays a 25% surcharge for a product with his name on or buys the shaving products to buy into his image could only dream about.

    If you can't live up to the ideals don't expect the income and profile that this gives you. Its all very simple.

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree they have the right to privacy. But when they are making millions of dollars based on the fact that they are a family man, clean living etc then if this is proved otherwise they leave themselves open to scrutiny.
    If the advert is Tiger Woods says Calloway Drivers are the best fair enough - its golf related but Management Consultancies, Soft Drinks, Gillette - the Best A Man Can Get - that is self promotion and for me the press are morally correct in going after you.

  • Comment number 16.

    The man hits a little white ball into a little round hole with a selection of sticks. He happens to do it better than anyone on the planet at the moment. We should not expect our sportsmen to act any differently to the rest of the people on the planet and we should not hold up sportsmen as being of a higher moral code than the rest of us.
    Nor should sponsers pay him for that image.
    We all should know the behaviour he has shown over the past few months, and even years apparently, is an unacceptable way to behave and it is up to us to explain this to our children, not some highly paid sportsman.

  • Comment number 17.

    I feel someone who has made a fortune from advertising and sponsorship has eroded his right to privacy. A sportsperson who has never promoted himself in this way eg. Paul Scholes has the same right to privacy as the rest of us.

  • Comment number 18.

    I would guess that Tiger Woods makes the majority of his money from sponsorship, and of course his image is integral to securing that money. Ultimately that sponsorship is paid for by the public, so if he is being unfaithful then it is in the public interest to know that. You could argue the media backlash to his actions will be disproportionate given his profile, but you also have to accept that it is that profile that has helped him become an incredibly successful and rich man. Woods will find the negative media coverage unsavoury and unwelcome, but unfortunately for him it is, in principle, justified. Stars do not have the right to dictate what stories the media cover in relation to them, be it positive or negative, and Woods is just beginning to find out what a grave error he has made.

  • Comment number 19.

    Professional sportspeople have a right to privacy if all they do is make money from competing in their chosen sport and otherwise live as private individuals, for example Paul Scholes of Manchester United. However, whenever they start to make money by publicly marketing a particular image of themselves, for example Tiger Woods or David Beckham, the public has a right to know whether or not the athletes are living up to the image that they are selling.

  • Comment number 20.

    Funny that oftentimes, as in the case of many celebrities and personalities, media hypocritically takes upon itself the title of the bearer of truth and morality. Cheating, whether handballs, against your partner, making up a news story, or in business, is never right and should be punished. If we punish every cheater on this planet, blimey, will we have enough people left? Unfortunately, at least in the media, Tiger, it seems, is made to carry everyone else's transgressions. I pity Tiger, but I sympathize more with Elin because I know what she's going through, without the media circus of course. Now that I know what Tiger did, it's time for me to turn off the telly and let Tiger sort out the trouble he himself created.

  • Comment number 21.

    Quite simply: live by the sword, die by the sword.

    If you court media attention, be it through sponsorship deals or product endorsement, you are asking to be subject to media scrutiny. Why? Because if you are happy to make millions on selling an image of being squeaky clean, you are morally obliged to live to those standards. If you're exposed as a fake and a phony (like Tiger) it is arguable you should return your sponsorship monies: you've perpetuated a lie and profited (very handsomely) from it.

  • Comment number 22.

    Surely there is a conflict of interest in journalists discussing whether the subjects of their stories have a right to privacy. I don't think I have read a blog or news story about Tiger in the last three weeks that has not cynically asked this question and then answered it in the negative. And how could a serious journalist take account of what the 'editor' of the News of the World thinks, when that publication shows such utter contempt for the ordinary professional standards that the rest of us are required by law (in the case of the traditional professions) to comply with? Of course he has a right to privacy. Unless your personal and financial interest lies in denying that. And the best thing about being in that position, as you know Ealenor, is that you actually get to criticise Tiger on the basis that he acts in his personal and financial interest.

  • Comment number 23.

    This is such a difficult topic - and as a result gains many column inches, talk time etc.

    It is not for us to say that he has made money from his 'squeeky clean' image - only those who have been responsible at corporations for employing Woods know whether or not they have employed him for this image he portrayed. I guess, thought, reading between the lines, that Accenture have dropped him because his image currently differs significantly from that of when he signed up to them.

    As other commentators have mentioned, there is a significant difference between Max Moseley and Tiger Woods. Max Moseley is in a high profile job and paid a wage by the FIA. He is not signed to promote corporations or their products. His image has been created purely by what we see on the TV through F1 coverage. He does not seek to earn more (I believe) through product endorsements; it is only through his job that the media are interested in him and whilst personally I am not a fan, what he does (legally) behind closed doors is, in my view, not in the public interest to know. However, as a public figure, he should know that his life will come under scrutiny.

    We live in an age now where celebrity of any sort is craved and many of us put ourselves out into the public domain through simple things such as Facebook, myspace etc.

    Tiger Woods has been groomed for public life from a very young age and has earned significant sums of money from promoting himself and companies products for financial gain. As a result, he must expect not only great interest in his working life but also his public life. He gets paid to turn up to tournaments - why? Because organisers know how many more people will turn up to watch if Tiger is there. Woods cannot be daft - he must know this - and what is incredible is that 'kiss and tell' stories have sold newspapers the world over for many years; how/why did Woods think he was any different and the women he was sleeping with be any different? As soon as he had an affair with the first women whilst he was dating/engaged/married he must have known that the clock had started ticking.

    It would have not blown up so much had Woods been single.

    The sad thing is that in this situation everyone takes a 'holier than thou' approach. None of us are perfect or necessarily morally better. In this case, though, the press will be judge and jury.....and I'm sure we'll not hear the end of this for a long time yet!

  • Comment number 24.

    I think if it had been one small transgression then fair enough leave him be. But he's clearly been sowing his wild oats thinking he could do what he wanted and behave how he wanted. And when someone does that sorry but you have to understand there's a price to pay. He gets greater rewards and is held in higher esteem than many others meaning if he does something wrong there's an awful lot to lose. But let's not start feeling sympathy for him here. He has made a spectacular amount of money from advertising and from being held up as role model. OK maybe he didn't ask to be thought of in that way but I bet his representatives have sold him in that way to get as much money as possible for him (and themselves). Sorry but he's helping companies to sell products based on his image, that means if he does something wrong then expect some comeback. No-one forced him to become a corporate sponsor, he chose to put himself in the limelight so he has to pay the price now.

    Personally I'm of the opinion that he deserves what he gets here. He knew what he had to lose and he did it anyway, and not just the once by the sounds of things. Over and over again. And if he hadn't been caught out do you think he would have stopped soon of his own acord? I very much doubt it.

  • Comment number 25.

    No: it's like this. Society does have a stake in morality. With the collapse of the community, we are now dependent on the media to uphold morality, even if it is in a salacious manner. It's nothing to do with sport, but society does have an interest in transgressions. Not to the point of enforcing it, but a little attached stigma does little harm and more good.

  • Comment number 26.

    Everyone should be thoroughly investigated for anything that they might have done "wrong" - whatever that means. Their misdemeanours should then be recorded on the internet so that everyone knows about them for the rest of their lives, and even after their lives have ended. Hopefully that will make everyone feel much better and ensure a certain smug sense of self-satisfaction.
    Where will it all end?
    It used to be considered a punishment to publish a person's name in a local community. For a "celebrity" it is a given that there will be publicity, and thanks to the internet the whole sordid details (right or wrong) are published to the world in a readily searchable way and forever!

  • Comment number 27.

    The issue with Tiger is that he has taken Commercial advertisers "shilling" to project himself as the right sort of person to promote the various products.

    This is now clearly no longer the case. It is not particularly a golfing matter; if it had been say (hypothetically), John Daly or even Nick Faldo in the same situation, the average fan would probably have just shrugged shoulders and say "san ferry ann!" and let them just get on with their golf.

    But Tiger has porbably earned more money by fostering an Image than the actual prize money earned.

  • Comment number 28.

    Reference: Euan McArthur comment
    Agree society obviously has a stake in morality.
    However views can change for example homosexuality used to be illegal now complaining about homosexuality is illegal/immoral.
    How does one ensure that only a "little" stigma is attached to a transgression when thanks to the internet the attached stigma goes all around the world in an instant and remains forever?
    Seems to me that thanks to information technology a "little" stigma is impossible!

  • Comment number 29.

    I have admired rather than liked Tiger for years, but am not gloating about his spectacular fall from grace. There has always been something quite cold about him when you compare him to the likes of Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and many more who smile, give good media interviews rather than just sound bites.

    Whatever you may think of the likes of Max Mosely, Mosley did not trade on nor gain financially on a reputation of being the ultimate family man, Tiger did. Tiger portrayed himself as being the best husband, best father and all round great guy. You could say he set himself up for a fall.

    Many sportsmen before Tiger and many I am sure in the future have been caught out in compromising positions but their careers will not be dented in the same way as Tiger. The reason is that they have not gained financial gain in the way that Tiger has done. And, it has not just been a fling here and there, it has been a stream of lovers for years.

    I am sorry about the whole sordid affair(s) but it also begs the question has Tiger lead such a sheltered life to date that he has not been allowed to do the normal things people do, make the mistakes that people make and just be a more rounded individual. It is sad that somebody so obviously talented has chosen to lead a life of deception.

    I hope that he sorts himself out, and gets back to the golf course and just plays golf.

  • Comment number 30.

    The issue is not if we expect a higher standard of behaviour - but that we expect some standard of behaviour. If we are to believe the stories, Tiger Woods at no stage treated his wife as anything other than a trophy to be paraded while he hoisted his golf trophies. he appears not to have taken his marriage vows seriously for a single minute, with mistresses claiming that he was involved with them at the time of his marriage, the time of the birth of his children, right up to the current moment. And he was trading on the image that was supported by his marriage, and adding to his wealth by presenting a totally false image, so ultimately there is a totally dishonest streak that runs through all these activities that we would not accept from our friends and neighbours, let alone a 'hero'.

  • Comment number 31.

    He is a world-class golfer and that is my only interest in him - whilst I may not agree with how he leads his personal life it is none of my business.

  • Comment number 32.

    Accenture signed up as a sponsor of Tiger Woods in October 2003, Tiger Woods got engaged in November 2003 - so in what way did Accenture sign up with Tiger for the image of a squeaky clean family man? They entered into negotiations with, and then signed a contract with, a bachelor in his mid to late 20's.

    When they signed him up in 2003 they said;
    “Tiger Woods’ strength, mastery, discipline and relentless focus on winning are universally recognized qualities that mirror the characteristics of a high-performance business, making him the ideal representative for our market positioning,” said Joe W. Forehand, Accenture chairman and CEO. “A high-performance business is one that optimizes its resources to achieve its objectives and consistently outperforms competitors. Tiger is the best at his game, and we want our clients to be the best at theirs.”

    He signed with Nike as soon as he turned pro in his early 20's. At this time he was a young man and, as above, a bachelor. They didn't sign him up because he was a polite young man with a beautiful wife and some kids over whom he doted, they signed him because of his ability, his drive, his determination and his competitive nature.

    I haven't noticed any of the Gillette Tiger Woods adverts focusing on his family or the fact that married a Swedish model because of his use of their grooming products - it was because he was one of the most successful sportsmen around.

    Plenty of people are saying that he traded in his right for privacy when he signed these sort of deals or because he was portraying a certain image in order to 'cash in' - how can this be the case when he signed with the majority of his sponsors while he was still T. Woods esq? He was a hugely talented young man who was showing himself capable of shattering records in his sport and that is why all of these companies wanted to be linked with him.

    Now, finally, i'll try to get to the main question - does Tiger have the right to keep his private life private?
    Well that's simple, it's a redundant question. The media have decided he doesn't and so he doesn't have the choice. Columns like this are just so that the media can get justification from a decision that has already been made and allows the media to further discuss their own role to keep the cycle going and attempt to appear responsible in their reporting.

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    I'm wondering if his fellow professionals knew what was going on. Phil Mickleson, for one, was never fond of Tiger, and it may have had something to do with him knowing about the transgressions but preferring to stay silent about them for so long. How would anyone feel about watching someone develop a squeaky clean personna that everyone bought into, making hordes of money from that image, knowing full well it was all a lie? Jasper Parnevik did not hesitate to call Tiger out once the first hint of scandal appeared. How many more knew?

    Whether it's right to reveal private lives of sprots stars or not, I'm sure many of the pros can breathe a sigh of relief now it's in the open, even though, ironically, the game of golf will suffer for a while from the unwanted publicity.

  • Comment number 35.

    re: #32:

    You don't have to have an advert focus on someone being "clean living" for that to be implied in a big corporate sponsorship.

    If a sportsman was arrested for taking drugs, they'd be dropped by some sponsors (though not all, depends on the brand) - it wouldn't matter that the adverts they'd appeared in weren't based on being a non-drug user. Same as if some unsavoury policital leanings were uncovered. In Tiger's case, it is - apparently - multiple affairs. If it had been one then I don't think we'd be seeing this reaction, but a dozen?! It makes him a joke, and no major company is going to want to be associated with the butt of this month's joke.

    He has done something that, while not illegal, is something that most people in society consider to be immoral. As others have said, he's traded on his fame to make money from the media, and in return the media will make money from him. Some sportspeople just keep to making money from their talent and the media stays away from them. That's the trade-off.

  • Comment number 36.

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  • Comment number 37.

    I think in this case, he's probably crossed the line between 'straying once in a temporary moment of madness' and 'being a serial philanderer'.

    He is the most visible sports icon of this generation, hence he's made an enormous amount of money from an image.

    I guess, if the image is 'squeaky clean, morally upstanding, successful family man', then he's probably in breach of contract. Morally at least.

    If his image is: 'Tiger uses this golf apparel, so you should too', I don't see there's a problem.

    Just remember though: everything which is printed and written now can be trawled out to hurt his kids down the line.

    That's not saying there should be nothing written, it's saying there are other folks involved who AREN'T GUILTY.

    Remember they'll still be seeing him in all probability. And they'll need a dad. Maybe another guy will come into their lives too, but Mr Woods is still their biological father.

    There will be some screwed up teenagers at school who might use this to trash them just when they're becoming vulnerable and adolescent. It happens.

    There will be people who say Mr Woods should have thought about that sooner. They're right.

    But what's done is done.

    You don't kill someone's kids just because they screwed your wife.....

  • Comment number 38.


    that's all fair enough but and I don't dispute any of that, you could also have pointed out that his actions have caused him not to compete and that this would be a good reason for a sponsor to not want to be linked to a sports person.

    What I was trying to do was to point out to all of the people who seem to believe that his family life was a major reason behind these sponsorships that it wasn't, it was undoubtedly a bonus, but it wasn't the reason. When you sign with a man who is in his early 20's and just out of college you know there are risks but you take a chance on his ability and the impact that he could have (Nike had already gone through Jordan's reputation being tarnished in 1993 so they wouldn't have been blind to even the largest cash cow having some issues). It is the same with Accenture that they would have approached Tiger because of what he was achieving in the sport, not for personal reasons.

    People are suggesting that a major reason Tiger got these deals was because of his image as a clean cut family man, i'm saying that the majority of these were in place long before this image existed. I'm saying that he made the vast majority of his money due to his ability and devotion to golf, not his family.

    In the early days Tiger was recognised more as the young, fresh faced golfer with the big smile and the long ball, so surely it would be possible to make the case that as he isn't the happy, smiling figure anymore that he has let down his sponsors in that way as well?

  • Comment number 39.


    a) Sportsmen and women (like pop stars) ONLY make any money because of their fame. Whether through punters paying to see them or sponsorship. I don't see why they should take the good things involved in fame without accepting the bad. Businessmes and politians don't need fame to do their job and should have a different set of rules.
    b) If it tooks us years to find out about his numerous affairs, just how intrusive was this publicity? - Not very.


  • Comment number 40.

    People who play sport have a right to privacy. They're just doing their chosen job. It's when they take the advertisers' money for non-sporting goods (like razors and consultancy firms) that they open themselves up. By taking money for these personal appearances and adverts, they're holding themselves out as a role model. If someone does this, and they have embarrassing secrets, they've only themselves to blame if their hypocrisy is exposed.

  • Comment number 41.

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  • Comment number 42.

    I think that the behaviour of MM was disreptuable as spending time with ladies of the night in this country is still illegal. Tiger Woods seems to have had lots of affairs with lots of different women but there is no hint that he procured their services for money. MM was the president of the regulator for Motorsport a position that relies on moral integrity-how can you judge others and not let yourself be judged. Tiger Woods is the world's leading golfer a sport that depends on the mental strength and physical ability of an individual. I hope this sets out that the two cases shouldn't be comparable. Having affairs with anyone does not affect how Tiger plays golf but will mean that the companies that sponsor him and rely on his public image will probably change. MM brought into question his trustworthiness by engaging in illegal activity of a questionable nature. He sued on the grounds of invasion of privacy and I don't think he has actually ever apologised for his actions. Still at the end of the day I would hope that if I was going to do what Tiger did I would have thought of the children first. With his behaviour and the 14 or so women and their stories now being in the public domain you have to wonder how much he actually wanted to get married in the first place! If it (marriage) meant anything to him in the first place I am starting to doubt as perhaps like in other situations in the past perhaps it was for the benefit of his image and/or he did it for his family.

    Whatever the choices the 2 made it is clear that the morals of indulging in illegal activity is very different to indulging in non-illegal activity and for the benefit of sport I hope TW makes a speedy return to the golf course. What on earth his PR company have been doing to try and help him out I have no idea. Every other celebrity that has been caught in this situation seems to have handled it far better and if by some miniscule chance TW is reading this GET A NEW AGENT QUICK! If he hadn't been married then he would have just been considered one of the lads very much like, and I think this is public knowledge, Goran Ivanesivic when he was on tour and he would have probably had the odd kiss and tell in the papers every now and then like we seem to have a couple per week at the moment.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think this is ridiculous. Of course what he did was wrong, but most people are lucky to get througha week without doing something or another wrong themselves, (granted, maybe not an affair every week).

    And people saying that by him being in ads and sponsored justifies an invasion of his privacy, that is absolute nonsense. So if the guy who acted in a series of ads a few years ago is caught doing something now, it is sensible by that logic to blast him all over the papers also. People are confusing what it means ot be sponsored, Surely the idea of sponsorship is not to say 'look, this guy uses us and has a great character, so our product is responsible for him being great'. Sponsorship is a way of generating product awareness so people will purchase a product, nothing more.

    This does not by any means provide any form of justification for the way not only the media have behaved, but alos sponsors. Woods should be famous for one reason, an outstanding contribution to golf over the last decade, and the increased popularity and standard of the sport. It is not like anyone who started playing golf in the last ten years is going to give up now that one of the top stars in the sport did something outside of the golf club!

    We can safely say then, that Wood's actions should have had no negative effect on what he should be remembered for, i.e. improving a sport.

  • Comment number 44.

    If find it strange that a number of people are referring to Tiger's discretions as a 'mistake'. A mistake is making a coffee with skimmed milk and not full fat or ordering a cheese and ham pizza and getting a pepperoni. Let's not forget these 'mistakes' would be grounds for divorce in anyone's marriage, rich or poor. If I did this to my partner I would expect them to leave me instantly. Also, there seems to be some kind of concession as well as, a 'respect' for his talent, because he can accurately hit a small ball 300 yards. He said he was 'sorry'. Is he sorry because his career and status in the short term are in ruins or that he really cares for the welfare of his wife, particularly his children? This family now is in a precarious position and no amount of money can determine how the children will be affected.

    As for the public's right to know, the public seem have little to do other than revel in other people's misfortune. Let's not forget, bad news makes for good drama. On a final note everybody out of this makes money; sponsors, sportsmen and people making money out of the bad news. Crikey, how does one get in on this?

  • Comment number 45.

    "14. At 4:31pm on 17 Dec 2009, Ian_the_chopper wrote:
    I think the key thing is that Tiger Woods has sold his image to a number of companies for very very consdierable amounts of money. He takes the money for appearing at various events and has cultivated an image that has appealed to the mainstream.

    It is a Faustian pact and you must accept that if you take their dollars then you must play by their rules."

    I'm sorry but I cannot agree with you here. many of these large international companies are responsile for far worse actions than anything Woods has done in his private life. Also, there should not exist an ad contract where you sacrifice the right to your own private life because it does not fit in with the sponsors false portrayal of people, often in their creation of characters whom do not exist.

    Humans are ultimately flawed, they make mistakes. If the mistakes in your private life lead to this because someone has tried to make you out to be something you are not, that is unfair.

  • Comment number 46.

    "do sportspeople lose their right to privacy when they cross the white line?"

    Not necessarily, but they do have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror every day, especially when the image they consciously portray is cleaner than clean. People tend to want to know if they're supporting a hypocrit, I think they have the right to that much - especially when that support involves outlaying a lot of money in order to follow said star.

    The real issue for me is, what image does this person portray? Is this person "just" a sports star? Or is he trying to be other things away from his sport at the same time? Does he go out of his way to make out he's got certain standards and principles? The problem is that Tiger has consciously put out this image that he is the good boy done good, when all the time he was just the regular boy doing some good and some bad.

    That means a lot of people were lied to about what kind of person Tiger Woods is. Kids especially. Do you have the right to know if you've been lied to?

    I'd like to think so.

    As dirty, grubby and seedy as the media can sometimes be, without them Tiger Woods would still be pulling the wool covers over the heads of his fans.

  • Comment number 47.

    To answer the question offered in Eleanor's blog; Tiger et al do not have a choice whether their private life is exposed or not. This is the product of free media, look at the hundreds of different sources who have jumped on the speculation bandwagon about Woods in the last 10 days. The situation has become so convoluted and crass, that eventually the truth is far less damaging than rumour (you'd hope).

    So, that is why Wood's has no choice but to stand up and come clean, 100%. The autobiography will make up the sponsorship deals lost anyway.

    As for his position as a (marketed) role model. Woods is an economic man and where there is money in vast sums, one rarely questions the belief and relation to what they are marketing.

    It's the aspiring youth who have been cheated, hopefully many are too young to worry about the consequences of such actions. Adults should know through living their lives that maxims like "clean cut" cannot be taken at face value. Behind every marketed face there is a story; good, bad or in between. Adults living vicariously through images will always be let down and hence why the world is so bewildered by the news.....

    P.S I'll still buy the Razors because they really do give a close shave, however they've not done much for the golf game.

  • Comment number 48.

    Is this serious?

    I can understand playing down an rare transgression, mistake or lapse of judgment by anyone so that an occasional error doesn't ruin someone.

    We are harldy talking about a one-off with Woods trhough are we?

    A dozen (known) affairs in a few short years can hardly be described as an error of judgment or a simple mistake, that is continued and calculated reprehensible behaviour.

    Of course he should be free to continue playing golf, but anyone who continues to sponsor him should be clear that that they endorse prolonged adultery and deceit.

  • Comment number 49.

    It depends entirely on how he markets himself... as a golfer or a role model. If he markets himself only as a golfer he is entitled to as much privacy as he wishes. If he is marketing himself as a role model for people, children or adult then he has given permission for a degree of scrutiny in to how he makes a good role model.

    It is irrelevant though, as long as people put value in gossip for famous people there will be those who will snoop in order to benefit from them. Regardless Tiger has some serious issues which need resolving for him to stray that badly whether public disclosure was fair is a completely separate issue what is for certain is he is completely in the wrong and his actions have ripped a family apart.

  • Comment number 50.

    This situation is not a question of morality. It is easy to subjectively state that you believe Tiger to be in the wrong. Objectively, it has nothing to do with anybody other than him, his wife and his kids. Whether you are Tiger Woods, Ashley Cole or even Max Mosley what you do in your private life has nothing to do with your ability to do your job.

    Tiger is famous for his skill with a golf club and should be judged on his ability, nothing further. I recently saw an interview on TV with the cocktail waitress he reportedly had an affair with. My personal feeling is that kiss and tell stories are one step away from soliciting. The only difference is, it's the media that pays the piper, not the client.

  • Comment number 51.

    Its a sad reflection on celebrity obsessed culture.

    Tiger Woods is paid to entertain people with his golfing skills, which in turn has led to companies wanting to share his success by endorsing him.

    He cheated on and shamed on his wife and she should hate him for it, but I don't think the rest of us should judge him on anything other than golf.

  • Comment number 52.

    the whole point of sponsorship is so that you parade around in public promoting stuff. Tiger did that and he got paid, so whatever right to privacy he had he lost when he stuck is name and face to anything and everything. Look at sportsman like Paul Scholes and other such professionals. Long prestigious careers, but no scandal because they didn't become media fodder.

  • Comment number 53.

    you notice it is only journalists who see people as property.( well, them and governments. )Perhaps it is journalists who deserve no privacy, lets try the shoe on the other foot for a while and check out the instant outrage from the muck rakers. This kind of journalism worries me and everyone I know, It's based on jealousy. There is no moral message here, just a rotten one.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's irrational to expect Tiger to show a higher standard of behaviour than other people. *But* Tiger doesn't earn squillions/year just from playing golf - his income also derives from people's interest in him and his life.

    So guess what happens when it goes wrong... No point complaining about it.

  • Comment number 56.

    Tiger Woods is famous because of his amazing golfing ability. If he wasn't famous, no one would care. He has made his name through Golf. He has never cheated or taken drugs in his sport, unlike so many other modern sportsmen. He may be a flawed person, but aren't we all.

    Regardless of his personal behaviour, we do not have the right to intrude on his personal life. He is famous for golf, not for the husband he is. We have every right to know about golf issues, the only person that has a right to know about his marriage, is his wife.

  • Comment number 57.

    What shocks me is that Tiger was dropped by Gillette for his private life, and Henry who openly cheated in front of the cameras, brining the game into disrepute and hurting millions, gets off scott free. All the more reason to boycott Companies with Double standards.
    I think if you look around the blogs on the BBC you will see not everyone wants to hear this lurid type of news. I couldn't care less how Tiger and his wife and kids manage their private affairs or affairs in private. However I appreciate people who are professionals, who entertain us and I am sure in someway somewhere I contribute to their wages or salaries, but then I am not obliged to buy any sponsors product thats my choice. It all boils down to choice. If we want to be thinking like in the middle ages that 2 people together is the perfect way to live and no couple has issues or problems then lets go ahead, we are only fooling ourselves anyway.

  • Comment number 58.

    ON a side note , I never understand why when I go to the football pages, I end up reading about the likes of Ronaldo crashing his car or mersons drugs, or someone elses alcohol, I want to read about football, I dont' care if Steven Gerrard is an idiot hitting someone in a night club, I can tell that from his football. Keep it focused please

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am amazed at the level of hypocrisy in the world today..leave the poor chap alone..the only person that should hold him to account should be his wife and nobody else! The media is to intrusive and they should get off their high horse..Tiger is human afterall and he did what any male ( with blood pumping in his veins ) with so much money and fame would do..give him a break!

  • Comment number 61.

    A successful sportsman has a choice - to confine themselves to their sport and the rewards that that life brings or to seek substantial additional wealth by exploiting their name in the support of soft drinks, shaving equipment and the like which have no causal relationship to success on a sports field. Once the commercial option has been chosen there is an explicit acceptance that they have set themeselves up as an icon, someone to be admired, someone to be copied, a role model and as such they have committed to an acceptance that they no longer have a private life and they have to accept the scrutiny and criticism when their actions go beyond the bounds of what is generally regarded as decent behaviour.

    To my knowledge Tiger Woods has received no criticism for the way he plays golf but only for his standards and a complete lack of loyalty and commitment to his family.

  • Comment number 62.

    how did Tiger cheating on his wife specifically hurt anyone except his family? has his wife divorced him? has his wife publicly berate him? why do the media and a bunch of hypocritical people like to cry more than the bereaved? What he did his wrong, but that is his private life and its of no consequence to anyone but his family! He shot into stardom because of his golfing abilities,and I do not recollect him professing being saintly. It is his personal life, and enough of all this needless puritan nonsense.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tiger has come to believe that he is a good guy, nay, a perfect guy. The squeacky clean image that the media have created of him, and have been promoting, is a fable, that Tiger himself seems to have accepted.Now he is devastated; well, welcome to the real world, Tiger.
    He is not perfect, and nevev was. Did the contract he signed with various sponsors contain the clause that he was supposed to be in bed by 10PM, alon, or if accompaned by someone, that someone had to be his wife?
    Let the guy rest a while, for he has been wonded but..., and then let him play golf agin, Ivan

  • Comment number 64.

    For crying-out-loud, the man is good at hitting a small ball with a stick.

    A stationary ball.

    While he's out for a walk.

    When did that ever qualify someone to be a "role model" ?

    If large corporations want to pay someone a lot of money to not-commit-adultery, then they can phone me up, any time of the day or night.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think it is impossible to retain the sort of private life an ordinary citizen enjoys when you become a major public figure. Just how Tiger thought he could get away indefinitely, as one of the most famous faces in the world, with picking up $8 an hour cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas is completely beyond me. His behaviour was so outrageous he can hardly now demand a "right to privacy".

  • Comment number 66.

    I think its very poignant that this is a man who barely 8 months ago was pleading in the press for privacy. At the time he had me convinced.

    His argument was that he enjoyed playing golf and was not seeking celebrity status... in the same way as say a musician or an actor might be keen to be in the public eye, he was keen to be out of it. So far so good and he was very reasonable in the interview... in fact I almost believed him.

    But here is the reailty. He has made maybe 80-90 Million USD out of golf... purely playign the game and winning competitions. Because of who he is he has sold nearly 10 times this amount in sponsorship. In the same way that we would all be mightily annoyed if it turns out that Beckham is havign his end away with whomever he wishes whilst portryaing the family man for cash... we have every right to expect that advertising and sponsorship live up to moral codes.

    If I do not live the life I should not sell the lie - its that simple. I have no problem with his personal life nor any need to know about it, unless what he is getting up to is not up to the moral codes he so willingly sells out to.

    If he did not want the intrusion he could have "only" taken nikes money.. but accenture, AT & T, Microsoft, Gatorade, Gillette etc is greedy. And he is not morally the right person to lead these brands - he sells well and he is dynamic and a fearsomely good sportsman, but lets face it so was nichaulson and he ended up with a broken marriage and all sorts of shenanigans being brought to light... however he was not paid the same money as tiger...

  • Comment number 67.

    He did not lose his privacy. he sold it. for a handsome sum. Its seems a very simple, straight forward and logical arrangement. There should be no controversy here. It could even be regarded condescending to suggest that this is even worthy of debate.


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