Keep sensationalism out of Tiger Woods accident

World famous PGA Tour golfer Tiger Woods canceled his scheduled interview Sunday for the third time with Florida state troopers about the car accident that landed him in the hospital with minor cuts and bruises.

His reluctance to talk is prompting rampant public and media speculation about what actually happened on the night of the incident.

According to authorities, Woods drove his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree when backing out of the driveway Friday at his Orlando house around 2:30 a.m. Investigators have tried to get his statement since he left the hospital Friday afternoon, but under Florida law, he is not obligated to provide it.

“This is a private matter, and I want to keep it that way,” Woods said on his Web site. “Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”

Woods’ comments about “malicious rumors” relate to a report by the National Enquirer that claims he had an affair.

Evidently not satisfied with his response, the media have camped near his house for days, waiting to pounce on any new development or appearance. Some tabloids say his wife, Elin Nordegren Woods, chased Woods with a golf club and caused his injuries after hearing of the affair.

Some are asking how an athlete with such finesse and natural control could be involved in such a fender bender. Others are asking why he doesn’t come forward to settle any questions.

However, the public has no right to know anything beyond what Woods wants to reveal. The media should not make baseless assumptions.

“Do I have justification for my desire to know Woods’ marital travails, if any?” said Eric Zorn on his Chicago Tribune blog. “In this case, for him, ‘none of your business’ is a defensible answer and, under the circumstances, probably exactly the way to go.”

Woods’ fame should be based on talent alone. The 33-year-old, who has won 14 major golf championships and 83 victories around the world, is the No. 1 golfer in the world and has earned more than $1 billion from corporate endorsements, according to USA Today.

Aside from golf, Woods has dipped from the public light for years. Coverage of his golfing feats and not his possible marital woes is what journalism should entail.

Gossip-mongering will unduly infringe on the privacy rights, while fame-seekers like the now-criminal Balloon Boy parents will do whatever they can to catch the public’s attention.

It ruins reputations and puts the wrong people in the public eye.

Maybe Woods did have an affair. Maybe he was driving to a bad place Friday morning. But none of this is certain.

Either way, it’s not the public’s business.

All that is known is that Woods was in a minor collision. If the media seek sensationalism rather than decency in coverage, they may have a serious collision with the core principles of their field.

Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences.