Hasn't Tiger Woods endorsed away his right to privacy?

At the end of an informative punctuation lecture — in response to a reader’s faulty criticism — Michael Tomasky asks an excellent question:

Why wasn’t [Tiger Woods] driving a Buick? That’s the only potential scandal here, and typically, the media have missed it completely.

It’s hardly the ONLY potential scandal, but it’s certainly a scandal.

Tiger Woods rakes in more cash than almost anyone on the planet. He’s wealthy because of his golf winnings ($6 million in 2008) but rich beyond avaricious dreams thanks to corporate product endorsements ($110 million in 2008).

So, Woods' primary job is promoting products for cash: leveraging his public image to tell us to buy Product A rather than Product B. He’s become filthy rich trading on his public image.

If Tiger were merely the world’s greatest golfer, I’d concede him his private life and say his one-person accident — or “accident” — is none of our business. Being the world’s greatest golfer attracts the spotlight, whether one craves or shuns it.

But, as the world’s top corporate billboard, Tiger has put himself out there as a person worthy of emulation and deserving of our trust. So when he repeatedly refuses to talk with the police… And when he refuses to talk with his fans… And when a bizzare, unexplained incident leads to his injury and withdrawal from his own tournament, people have a right to be angry.

This is doubly true because Tiger has been telling us to use Product A rather than Product B while actually using Product B himself!

It’s as if he’s been telling golf fanatics to buy Callaway clubs while he himself plays with Ping. If you endorse a product, don’t you have a moral obligation to use that product yourself?

And when you “earn” nine-figure annual incomes selling your reputation, don’t you have an obligation to be honest and forthright with fans, whom your Nike ads encourage to say “I am Tiger Woods”?

Posted by James on Tuesday, December 01, 2009