Well, Paige, if you read Ethics Alarms, which I’m sure is popular fare on the ladies’ pro golf tour, you would know the answer. To the average member of the public, yes, being a winner absolutely ‘holds more weight” than being a good person.
Your sport is golf, not baseball, but a famous baseball manager said, “Nice guys finish last.” It’s not football, either, but an even more famous football coach said, “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” [Aside: the quote is most frequently identified with Vince Lombardi, and it is very likely that he used it. Late in his career, however, he rejected that sentiment in favor of more measured statements, On the Lombardi website there are many quotes about winning, bu not that one. Lombardi wasn’t the originator anyway: UCLA football coach Henry ‘Red’ Sanders was, around 1950.]
In general, though, in and out of sports, what you have articulated is “The King’s Pass,” or “The Star Syndrome,” which is one of the Ethics Alarms rationalizations, as well as one of the five most common and most damaging on the entire list of 100. It says, in the short version,
One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head. In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.
Paige Spiranac comes to her lament from an interesting perspective. The 26-year old is a former golfer on the women’s pro tour. When she was competing, she often complained that she wasn’t taken seriously because of her appearance. That seems to be half true: she wasn’t taken seriously because of her appearance and because she was suspected of being more interested in building a career as a sex symbol than as a golfer. This is part of our culture’s sexism problem. Beautiful women are stereotyped and seen as sexual objects first and serious professionals second, if at all. Yet some beautiful women exploit their attractiveness to advance in their profession. That’s a valid choice, but they can’t ethically complain that people see their face and form rather than their skill and character when they are the ones putting the former on prominent display.
Eventually Paige decided that her middling success on the links would be over-shadowed profit-wise by her moving into the bathing suit modeling, fashion, and social influencer areas. I have no idea why she decided to strike out on that course. By the way, here’s Paige in her old career…
…and her new one: