Tiger's imperfect world

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

In a perfect world, the public wouldn't be obsessed with celebrity gossip.

In a perfect world, a golfer wouldn't make a billion dollars.

Tiger Woods' Cocktail Waitresses Across America tour took a new turn Wednesday with the release of voicemails, emails, text messages and the like from women claiming affairs with him. It got to be so much, Woods released another statement. He started strong by acknowledging his failures.

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," he wrote. "I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."

He should've quit right there.

With Woods, however, he can't. He never can. It's why all those boiler plate crisis management solutions were laughable when applied to Tiger. "Hold a press conference"? Please, feeding him to the media would've been the dumbest move possible. This guy can't stay on message in a statement on his own website.

He immediately launched into a four-paragraph lecture about the horrors of celebrity news coverage, the invasiveness of a media free-for-all and how unfair it is that the public has an unquenchable thirst for dirt on the people they've made rich and famous.

"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," Tiger wrote. "For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives."

This rules out that Tiger was innocently going to 7-Eleven when he wrecked his Escalade at 2:23 a.m. last week. If tabloid scrutiny surprised him, he obviously hasn't seen a checkout stand magazine rack in years.

His basic point is correct, of course. This is none of anyone's business. He cheated on his wife, not on the golf course, not on his taxes, not while committing some other crime. The public is owed nothing.

In a perfect world, though, teachers and cops and construction workers wouldn't have to pony up extra money to buy a shirt for their kid just because Tiger Woods' name is on it.

In a perfect world, they wouldn't have to break the bank for overpriced Nike shoes, with a hunk of it going to pay for Tiger Woods' private plane.

In a perfect world, women in Asia wouldn't be paid pennies an hour to stitch up his product.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't be overwhelmed by rampant consumerism, false idol worship and mesmerizing advertisements – a trio of circumstances that Tiger Woods has played and profited from better than just about anyone.

So in a perfect world, yes, Tiger Woods cheating on his family would be a private issue. For many people, it still is. He's a golfer and as long as he keeps entertaining them on Sunday afternoons in red, that's enough.

As it should be.

Which is different than how it is. Celebrity gossip isn't a new phenomenon. You might as well complain about death and taxes.

Tiger had the closest thing to a dream life anyone could imagine: untold wealth, a beautiful, healthy family, professional satisfaction and so on.

He got some of it from portraying himself as a model of clean-cut morality. Perfect shirt. Perfect smile. Perfect wife. Perfect life.

He was the family man, the teacher, the leader, the inspirer. "I am Tiger Woods," children across the world repeated in one advertisement. In another, he starred with a talking stuffed animal/driver cover. He coveted the opportunity to be everyone's role model, to speak to young people. He wasn't Charles Barkley, smartly arguing against allowing kids to look up to him. He wasn't Derek Jeter, happily living the bachelor life with every Hollywood starlet he could find. The public applauds those guys.

Tiger took every bit of the money his image delivered. And with great rewards come great responsibility. That's the deal. You can't have one without the other. You can't have your image beamed relentlessly into everyone's living room and then expect people not to be intrigued with your life.

You can't release glowing pictures of your family and think the public isn't going to seek information when it comes crumbling down.

It's fine that he's not perfect. It's just that he had IMG sell him as such.

Tiger should've stopped after the contrite first paragraph. He should've hunkered down and tried to salvage what he can of his marriage. Maybe he still will.

The rest speaks to an athlete detached from reality, myopic in his view of the world which has surrounded him by yes men willing to do anything to keep Tiger the Brand believable.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that in 2007, the National Enquirer had a story of Woods straying from his marriage. According to a former executive at the magazine's parent company, Woods' marketing team worked a deal out that the Enquirer would squash the story in exchange for Tiger posing for the cover of sister-publication Men's Fitness.

He did and they did.

In Tiger Woods' perfect world, that's how tabloids were dealt with, how trouble was escaped, how his privacy and marriage were saved. His fame and earning potential were always enough to bail him out.

Now that it can't, Tiger, spare us the complaining.