Being a golf crowd and polite to a fault, the media slipped the nuclear question in once he had warmed up with a few long hops along the lines of how do like your chances this week, Tiger? This in the week when Woods went strategic with pictures of himself and skier Lyndsey Vonn loved-up on Facebook.
Eventually it came. “Why did you decide to do that, to go public with the relationship now?” Woods was primed. He always is. Even in the darkest hours of the post fire-hydrant shame Woods was projecting from a controlled position, witness his emergence through blue velvet curtains to deliver his sermon from the Florida pulpit in order to facilitate a return to the game at the 2010 Masters.
In this Bay Hill address he took some delight in what he believed to be a first strike against the ‘stalkarazzi’. “We're very happy where we're at, but also we wanted to limit the stalkarazzi and all those sleazy websites that are out there following us. I’ve had situations in the past that have been dangerous for my kids to the extent that they will goad us. We basically devalued the first photos. That’s the way it is in society right now. We felt it was best thing to do. I’m very happy with that.”
Sorry Tiger, that’s a bogey at the first, I’m afraid. Publishing pictures on Facebook will do nothing to deter interest. The opposite is true, in fact. It will spike interest like you wouldn’t believe making even more valuable, not less, the next papped picture that appears on a sleazy website. Far from dousing the flames licking at the official flowering of Tiger and Lyndsey love-in, the Facebook publication will fan them. The paparazzi are probably lining their tanks at the gates of Bay Hill right now because the market rate has rocketed with the ‘stalkarazzi’ speech.
While there must be sympathy for public figures and the loss of a private dimension to their lives, it is the trade they make for the vast rewards that celebrity brings. They cannot have it all their own way. Visibility only when it suits is not part of the deal. It is a pity that Woods and Vonn so misunderstand the nature of the game. The paradox of appealing for privacy via Twitter and Facebook, the world’s most visible social networking sites, has gone right over their polished heads.
Woods is not the first high-profile figure to fail to make the equation between celebrity and the vast wealth that underpins his power. Next week he launches Tiger Woods PGA 14, the latest PlayStation offering retailing at 60 dollars a pop. The launching of Woods and Vonn as the first couple of America sport will not hurt sales that’s for sure. And he’ll happily bank the dough. And justifiably so. He is arguably the greatest golfer that ever lived. If golf is all you are interested in Tiger, stick to the fairways. But if leveraging off that success and positioning yourself for commercial gain is also the game, then you have to accept the intrusion, for good or bad.
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