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The Cautionary Tale of the Tiger Woods Crash

When Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac SUV in the early morning hours of November 27—first into some bushes, then into a curb and a fire hydrant only metres from the driveway into his home, and finally a tree on his neighbour’s front lawn—it was the proverbial crash heard round the world.  It still reverberates, but now somewhat drowned out by stories further up the chain of causation relating to why he was leaving at such an unusual time (2:30 am) and why, as one You Tube pundit put it, a guy who can “hit a golf ball in Japan and make a hole in one in Okalahoma” couldn’t navigate his way safely out of his own driveway.
 
When Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac SUV in the early morning hours of November 27—first into some bushes, then into a curb and a fire hydrant only metres from the driveway into his home, and finally a tree on his neighbour’s front lawn—it was the proverbial crash heard round the world.  It still reverberates, but now somewhat drowned out by stories further up the chain of causation relating to why he was leaving at such an unusual time (2:30 am) and why, as one You Tube pundit put it, a guy who can “hit a golf ball in Japan and make a hole in one in Okalahoma” couldn’t navigate his way safely out of his own driveway.
 
Media sources report that both Mr. Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren admitted to the police they had a domestic dispute shortly before the crash.  The speculation is that his injuries first linked to the crash—facial lacerations and possible loss of consciousness—may have been sustained outside the vehicle and may have contributed to his loss of control over the vehicle. This speculation is based on the fact that the airbags in the crashed SUV had not deployed indicating that he was traveling slower than 53 kilometres an hour, a speed that may be inconsistent with the injuries reported by the police.
 
Why do we care?  One answer is that celebrity car crashes, whatever their cause and however serious the consequences are an affront to our desire for order in the universe.  What good are fame and fortune if they can’t protect against the ordinary vicissitudes of life—like car crashes?  
 
Another answer is that scandalous events in the lives of the famous are our cautionary tales.  Tiger Woods was, as writer James Surowiecki described him in a recent New Yorker article, “the embodiment of bourgeois virtues: dedication, hard work, single-mindedness.”  Now, as Mr. Surowiecki puts it, we have seen “this image of perfect control” shattered by his disregard for a number of conventions and rules.
 
Even the events of the comparatively minor car crash indicate that safe and proper driving behaviour may not have been foremost in Tiger’s mind that night.  When Tiger decided to drive away from his home that ill-fated night, it appears that he may also have intended:
 
·         To drive when he may have been under extreme emotional distress;
·         To drive when he may have been angry;
·         To drive when not in a proper state to do so,
·         To drive—some have speculated from the facial lacerations—without a seat belt.
 
Whether or not the man known for carefully guarding his privacy fully appreciated that by entering onto a public roadway, his misadventures would automatically became a matter of public interest, they did.  Aside from the potentially marriage-breaking and career-destroying aspect of this particular minor car crash, what actually happened is a valid matter for public record.
 

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