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Tiger Woods Car Accident Gets Huge Media Coverage

In the past 12 years, surgeons have opened various parts of Tiger Woods 11 times. Ten of those 11 times were voluntary. He has terrible knees and a worse back. (And as a Class of ‘19 draftee into the Bad Back Franchise, I sympathize much more than I once might have.) This latest expedition into him, of course, as most of the world knows, was completely involuntary as a result of a devastating automobile accident. Bill Mallon is a former PGA golfer and an orthopedic surgeon at Duke Medical Center. (He also is an Olympic Historian of world renown). He put together a Twitter thread on Wednesday morning containing his informed speculation on the extent of Woods’s injuries based on the available public information. Much of the thread is unsettling, and it makes it clear that Woods is lucky to be alive. (The details about Woods’s possible “compartment syndrome” are especially unnerving.) The media attention is probably disproportionate, especially in the middle of the week in which the pandemic body count in this country went over a half-million. However, the media attention is also completely consonant with the way mass media has reacted to every celebrity misfortune since Gutenberg, especially in the United States, which invented most of the modern media and nearly all of the historical concepts of celebrity. So here we are.

I am loosely associated with Tiger Woods because of a profile of him that I wrote at another magazine back in 1997. The story made a little noise at the time, so subsequently, every time Tiger Woods found his life going sideways, I was supposed to have something profound to say about it. But I almost never did, because I truly didn’t know any more about him than anyone else. I was with him for two hours 23 years ago. He’d lived a couple of lifetimes since then.

I am fascinated, however, with the way he’s navigated his fame, largely because he became so bad at it. The life for which he had been prepared almost since birth, and that he’d handled with such ease as an adolescent and a young man, got utterly away from him in a monumental public way. It has been a study in reconstructing that fame in such a way that he can live within it like a human being, with flaws and children and a body that gives out the way bodies will, even without the intervening event of a car’s leaving the road. I believe he will get better, in every way. There was a time in which I would have had my doubts.

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