“Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means” says Tiger Woods on his website about the events of the past week.
Was he being naïve to believe the tabloid media would not pry into his personal life, or did he deserve his private life to be respected and not become part of the public’s breakfast fare?
The actor Paul Newman famously never signed an autograph after a fan came up to him at a urinal and asked him for his signature. As we continue to invade our sports stars – and other public figures – lives do we risk losing so much more?
It used to be that children could run up to their heroes at a sporting venue on the pitch after games and pat them on the back, or request an autograph, but those days have long gone and it is regrettable.
Just like some stars will no longer sign autographs for adults for fear that within 24 hours they will be turned into a business item on e-bay or some similar outlet.
For five minutes of titillation we inflict so much more pain on those we supposedly admire. We also run the risk of losing contact with them as real people, as who can blame a star from walking away from the media, and an over enquiring public.
Sure anyone in the public eye, who as a result of their chosen profession earns vast sums of money and is adored by children, has a moral responsibility to behave in a certain way in public. Like it or not that comes with the territory, you are a role model.
However there has to be a line as to when they are public property and when they are not.
It is our belief that if they are at their place of work, e.g. the ground on match day or at the training ground or a sporting event they are fair game to be approached for an autograph.
If they are at dinner with friends respect should be paid. Wait until maybe they have finished and approach politely, and give them the option to turn you down if they feel it is inappropriate. Outside, in their private world they should be allowed to live. If they want privacy respect it.
Tiger Woods has been a wonderful ambassador and also very generous to certain individuals and charities. The man has made a mistake, sadly a public one, but ultimately it is none of our business, and nor should it be.