ESPN is being accused of Photoshopping Tiger Woods' mugshot to make his hair look better, but it may have just been a sloppy crop

Tiger Woods made headlines on Monday when he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Now, ESPN is being accused of Photoshopping his mugshot to make his hair look better.

While ESPN was reporting on the arrest, they showed Woods’ mugshot. However, it appeared that his hair in the mugshot had been “tidied up” a bit.

Here is the side-by-side from Golf.com.

The immediate question raised by most is, why would ESPN go out of their way to improve the appearance of Woods in his mugshot? The conspiracy theory, of course, would be that ESPN was protecting a popular athlete with whom they have a close relationship.

But like many conspiracy theories, there is simpler answer: it may have just been unintentional, sloppy work.

When selecting part of an image in Photoshop, to move it to a different background, the most popular methods are the “lasso” tool, which allows the user to select the portion they want by simply drawing a freehand line, or the “magnetic freeform pen” which is similar to the lasso, but assists the user by having the line “stick” to edges.

One problem with the magnetic pen is that it struggles with areas where there is not a distinct line. In this GIF, I attempt to select Woods’ head with the magnetic pen. If not being careful, the pen will easily skip over the thin areas of hair.

But there may be an even simpler explanation: ESPN may have just wanted to change the mugshot to a more friendly background colour.

While it is unclear why ESPN wanted a blue background instead of green, the easiest way to eliminate all of the green showing through the thin areas of hair is to just crop those areas out. 

Technically, the ESPN image was “Photoshopped,” but it may not have been nefarious. 

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