Earlier today a friend and colleague forwarded me Sally Jenkins’ Washington Post column on Tiger Woods. Jenkins is a solid writer, and she expressed her point well. However, it’s a point I disagree with. There’s this belief among members of the media that Tiger Woods owes us an explanation; owes the police his full time and cooperation; owes the world, because we’ve paid him millions upon millions of dollars.
To this, I cty bullâ€¢â€¢â€¢â€¢. Tiger Woods is a huge celebrity, and celebrity has its perks and drawbacks. But just because one stars in sports … in movies … in music, well, it doesn’t mean he/she belongs to us.
Hence, while Jenkins did a swell job, I much prefer the take of Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports’ oft-brilliant, oft-loathed columnist. Here’s the link.
I don’t know Jason well. We’ve probably met in person once or twice, and we’ve exchanged a handful of e-mails and Facebook messages over the years. But what I like about himâ€”and what many in my business don’t like about himâ€”is a willingness/eagerness to hold the press accountable. If there’s one thing that sucked about writing for ESPN, it was that we were never, ever, ever allowed to comment on other members of the third estate. It was as if Sports Illustrated, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, etc never existed. It’s a stupid philosophy, because if you have athletes, you have writers and TV dolts around at all time. They’re a part of the story because they create the story. To pretend otherwise is illogical.
Whitlock doesn’t pretend. I’ve never been bashed by the man, though I’m sure he’d take me to task if he deemed me worthy. He has ripped some good friends, and I don’t always like it.
But if athletes are fair game, we have to be fair game, too.