Gonzo: Nowhere to hide

Residents photograph the Gentle Path facility , where Tiger Woods is reportedly being treated.
Residents photograph the Gentle Path facility , where Tiger Woods is reportedly being treated.
Posted: January 22, 2010

You have to sign a "celibacy contract" when you enter sex rehab. It's true. You also have to attend one-on-one and group therapy sessions, which sound pretty hot but probably aren't.

There was a time when you had to be in sex rehab to know about sex rehab. Not anymore. Now all you need is ESPN.

That's a little something I like to call progress.

I turned on SportsCenter the other morning when the Disney-owned program began discussing reports that Tiger Woods is in Mississippi to get help for his reported addiction to women who aren't his wife. It was a fairly frank segment. I hope Snow White wasn't watching, though I suspect the seven dwarfs have heard worse.

SportsCenter host Josh Elliott interviewed Benoit Denizet-Lewis about the Woods situation. Denizet-Lewis didn't break the rehab story, but the Deadspin contributor sure knew a lot about the topic - probably because he authored a book about his own sex addiction. Things I learned from their chat: Patients have homework assignments and must promise not to mess around with anyone at the facility (including themselves). As you might imagine, it was a super-comfortable conversation.

When it was over, SportsCenter pivoted to the NFC championship or something. I think. I'm sure it was a seamless transition.

That's where we are now, folks. Forget about TMZ or the National Enquirer (both gleefully ran pictures of Woods outside the rehab center). ESPN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Herald, Huffington Post, and other mainstream media outlets also have addressed the salacious story that has nothing to do with golf or the forthcoming Masters. Maybe, like the Hattiesburg American editorial staff (that's the paper of record in the Mississippi town now doubling as Sex Rehab, USA), you find that unsavory.

"There is a fine line between covering Woods when he wrecks his car and extending coverage when and if he gets treatment," the Hattiesburg American opined, imploring the media to give Woods some privacy.

The good people of Hattiesburg must not have ESPN. Or cable. Or the Internet. It's not a fine line anymore. It's not blurred, either. On the contrary, it's quite clear there's no going back to the good old days when players and coaches could drive drunk or womanize without being outed.

As Chris Pronger recently told the Hockey News, "15, 20 years ago people wanted to believe the best [about athletes]." He's right. Back then, they could pretty much do whatever they wanted when they weren't on duty without fear of having their personal shenanigans put on blast by paparazzi and the snooping media. No longer. Like entertainers and politicians who live in the public eye, there's nowhere for athletes to hide anymore.

You can cry about the TMZ-ification of the 24-hour news cycle, or you can just accept it for what it is: an inevitable evolution, one that feeds an ever-growing and very-real hunger for smut and gossip - one that's kind of entertaining, too. Admit it: You've paid attention to the Woods saga. You're interested. Without the demand, after all, there would be no supply. (I learned that in economics class in college. Impressive, I know.)

But, hey, if you want to pretend to be outraged by the media's moral decay, have at it. You can't fool me, though. You can't yank my - ah, never mind.

Last week: 1-3

Playoffs: 1-7

(Home teams in caps)

Handle this section with care. My picks are currently radioactive. After finishing the regular season with an above-.500 record against the spread, I've completely melted down in the postseason. Someone call FEMA before the whole paper is contaminated.

AFC championship: Jets +8 over COLTS: I picked against Rex Ryan and the Jets the last two weeks. Didn't work out so well for me. Time to pull the flip-flop. Besides, anyone who supposedly eats 7,000 calories a day and consumes so much Mexican food that his team started calling it "Rexican" deserves my support.

NFC championship: SAINTS -31/2 over Vikings: Minnesota's defense looked otherworldly last week against Dallas - so I'm naturally picking against the Vikings. You figure it out. I've stopped trying to justify any of this.

Just what you've always wanted: extra 76ers coverage. Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Comcastcast SportsNet will run Sixers Season Pass, a half-hour magazine show hosted by new sideline reporter Jamie Maggio. More Maggio? Good. More Sixers? What's the opposite of good? . . . I'm fascinated by the Shake Weight infomercial. If you haven't seen it, Google it. Whoever came up with the spot is a mad (and depraved) genius. . . . Finally got around to seeing Inglourious Basterds on demand. Fantastic flick. Christoph Waltz was beyond brilliant as the lead German. I don't usually pay attention to the Oscars, but the guy should win the best-supporting-actor award.

Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813

or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

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