With Wayne Rooney being plastered on every British daily over the past week, he has now sent out a request for privacy during this difficult time with his wife. This is reminiscent of the treatment that Tiger Woods requested following his scandal last year.
Both athletes decided to take part in extra marital activities, but after they got caught and dragged through the mud, they demanded that their family be treated with respect. They benefited from their role in the public eye, with countless sponsorship dollars coming in while their reputations were intact, but once the tables turned on them, they were no longer so willing to be in the headlines.
So the question must be asked. Do athletes deserve privacy? The media does not operate in the way that it used to, with the rest of the world catching up to the checkbook journalism of British media. Media outlets around the world are willing to pay the price for pictures, stories, audio clips or anything else that could prove potentially incriminating to athletes.
Considering the amount of professional athletes around the world, there is enormous potential for them to find themselves involved in some form of scandal. As athletes are generally accustomed to answering bottled questions from reporters, they are often unsure of how to deal with the press once they are turned on.
Despite the pedestal that we as a society place athletes on, they are all human. So much is invested into these individuals, and not just simply in pure monetary terms. The hopes of clubs and countries around the world lie in the balance of soccer players, but as soon as they slip up, fans and media alike are quick to dismiss everything that they have done on the pitch, and focus on certain actions off the field.
Is this fair? Some argue that they are paid millions of dollars to play a game, so they should all act as the perfect role models for their fans. But with the money and focus on their every move comes immense pressure. Nations around the world held their collective breath during this summer’s World Cup, with every stride being scrutinized.
Some are able to deal with the pressure, and some simply are not. Some become the perfect family men like David Beckham, and their brand simply is allowed to grow exponentially. But some, like Rooney, are simply not able to deal with the pressure. Instead they turn to a variety of vices in an attempt to deal with the constant scrutiny.
So do they deserve privacy? As human beings they do, but by entering the world of professional soccer, they understood that there were certain things that they would have to sacrifice in their life.
While it is understandable that Rooney is going through a difficult time right now with his family, there is no chance that the media will back off of him in any way. His face will continue to be plastered all over the papers, and after every game that he struggles for United and the national squad, the skeptics will point towards his off-field distractions.
The state of the media today does not allow privacy for any public figures, so for any of them to assume that they will be granted such a luxury is simply foolish.