Athletes routinely find themselves in a tornado of bad publicity when something happens within their marital lives. And fans can’t get enough. On a rare occasion, an athlete surprises us with a fabulous gesture to their loved one, but more often than not we’re overwhelmed with news of gold diggers and cheaters.

Lawsuits filed are public record and that’s how the stories get started, so I’m wondering if some of these personal issues can’t be solved behind closed doors.

Reputation management is hard enough without having to manage perceptions during a court battle, especially with the media’s interpretations commonly referred to as Rumor Central. It’s so hard to battle rumors that go viral, and a lot of times an athlete’s actions concerning a loved one are misconstrued to flatter network agenda.

As a public relations practitioner, would I advise my client/athlete to avoid publicity when it comes to their personal relationships? I think so. I think I’d try very hard to avoid (especially untrue) negative interpretations at all costs. Here’s what some famous athletes are currently revealing:

Kudos

Phil Mickelson celebrates with his wife after winning the Masters in April of 2010

Mickelson shares a moment with his wife, Amy

Women around the country had glazed eyes when Phil Mickelson won the Masters Tournament with his sickly wife at his side. Phil gets a big Kudos award. Here’s a man who truly loves his wife, you could just tell by looking at him and hearing him talk about her. That was beautiful. Kudos for letting the media into such an intimate moment. Phil showed everyone that there are extremely wealthy, professional athletes who are able to maintain a lasting relationship.

According to NBA Fanhouse, Mavericks star Tim Thomas will be leaving his career behind to tend to his ailing wife. It’s not like he’s taking a financial hit here in possibly retiring early, but he, like Michelson, has decided to put his family first. Kudos.

Unavoidables

Tiger Woods. Sorry dude (a nice word for the cornucopia of words I could pull to describe him), but you totally messed up. My opinion mirrors that of almost every practitioner and fan so I’m not going to beat a dead horse with a nine-iron. Your long-winded silence and creepy commercials say enough. No PR genius could save you even if they tried.

Chris Bosh just signed a contract with the Miami Heat to be the second of the Three Musketeers, erm, I mean a forward-center. He also just proposed to his long-time girlfriend. While there’s so much commotion surrounding the Heat, people are still gossiping about this engagement. Why now, after such a long year together, has she decided to marry him? She must be a gold-digger. Come on Bosh, did you really think people wouldn’t notice that thing on her finger? Time to stand up for your woman… publicly.

Oh. My. Goodness

I said earlier that I would go to great lengths to prevent the media from intervening in personal business. Dwight Howard thought he was doing this when he placed a gag order on his ex-girlfriend and “baby’s-momma,” Royce Reed, after their separation. According to Fanhouse, in the agreement, Reed was not to reveal personal information about their relationship to the media. TMZ got a hold of some (arguably trivial) information (that can no longer be found) and as of a few days ago, Howard is placing the blame on Reed. She now faces a lawsuit with a substantial price-tag of $500 million.

a. Does Dwight Howard really need $500 million?

b. Who is creating more drama here? Howard or Reed?

Now, Howard, at least to me, looks like the jerk. As far as I’m concerned, anything Reed said (which apparently wasn’t that damaging) couldn’t top a $500 million “shut-up” lawsuit. Howard: if you don’t want the media’s attention, solve this problem behind closed doors. Put your family first: save your son the embarrassment someday by cleaning up this relationship.

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