Tiger’s Actions Will Speak Louder than Staged Apology
Tiger Woods is a master control freak with unlimited funds and personnel at his disposal. Such a combination results in any type of self image display that the world’s No. 1 golfer wishes to put before the public.
One thing he can’t control, however, is the reaction to his scripted and well-rehearsed presentations.
As a result, Tiger’s 14-minute slow and mournful recitation with skillful pauses, ample frowns and more than sufficient self criticism staged in a funereal setting nine days ago was similar to the great majority of Broadway shows. It played to mixed reviews.
Last Sunday’s Pilot was a microcosm of the split decision across the nation on Tiger’s mea culpa. Howard Ward, The Pilot’s distinguished golf writer, tended to give Woods credit for being sincerely apologetic about his wayward and adulterous lifestyle of recent years, while the newspaper’s lead editorial was quite critical of Tiger’s effort to make amends, claiming it was insincere.
I wish I could agree with my good friend and colleague, Howard Ward, on this one. I wish I could believe in what Tiger did in that terribly excruciating performance before a few hand-picked minions sitting with heads bowed and millions of television watchers around the world. But I simply can’t believe it was genuine. He has too long a history of offering up a false image of himself.
Tiger has a good touch of the ham actor in his soul. After all, he has been using his athletic prowess, good looks and rare big smile to sell Buicks, Nike products, Gillette razors, the AT&T system, the Accenture organization, Pepsi Co., some Swiss watches and numerous other products in TV commercials for years. These minor Madison Avenue acting bits have made him a very wealthy man.
So why should I accept another acting performance that has Tiger frowning instead of smiling?
He has well-paid agents and handlers at International Management Group to write his scripts, including that performance of apology, Feb. 19. Surely Tiger went over and over that talk prior to reading it before two TV cameras, one of which broke down midway through the drudgery. He read it almost too flawlessly to make it believable.
It appears that during his very public rehabilitation at a Mississippi sex clinic since December, Tiger has been following, or at least he has become familiar with, a twelve-step program of recovery. He was enacting the ninth of these dozen steps when he went through the motions of making amends to those he has harmed in the past.
The twelfth step of such programs, however, concludes with a desire to continue practicing all twelve steps throughout all your daily affairs from that time forward. In other words, Tiger is really just starting a lifelong new way of thinking and living, if he truly follows such a course.
The one all important factor he alluded to in his talk that carried a ring of truth was when he said, “As Elin (his wife) pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time.”
How true rings the old saw, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Thus, I will wait whatever amount of time it takes for Tiger to prove by his conduct that he really is sorry and is changing his ways.
I felt his talk was a strong appeal to his corporate connections, hoping they might once again pay him millions and millions of dollars to endorse their products. I doubt Tiger will ever recoup all of his previous financial success as a pitch man.
Actually, I don’t give a hoot about his sex life. He can have all the extramarital affairs he wants. That is, as he said, a matter between Elin and Tiger.
I want an honest person who does not set up a smokescreen image that is totally a false picture of the person we want to see. His past image was something like a picture painted on top of a picture.
He mentioned the second thing I hope Tiger will change.
After he said he would return to golf at some future date yet to be determined, Tiger said, “When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.”
This spoke to many of those, including Tom Watson, who have been strongly critical of Tiger throwing clubs and cursing while he plays his magnificent rounds of golf.
Tiger made a big mistake when he vented his anger at the press early in his talk. Members of the Fourth Estate can take such ranting. We of the thick skins listen to it every day.
This mea culpa was no place for Tiger to complain about stories he brought upon himself and his family by his horrible actions. He sounded like the man who claimed he was misquoted after reading the morning newspapers and saw what a fool he made of himself when he opened his mouth the previous day.
Tiger has every right to object to certain press reports. But he should have saved that for another time, instead of tossing in a vindictive claim of persecution when he should have shown humility throughout the talk.
I was proud of my fellow members of the Golf Writers Association of America who boycotted the staged performance. Tiger said the GWAA could select three of its members to attend the gathering at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla., but they would not be permitted to ask questions.
GWAA president Vartan Kupelian, of the Detroit News, said, “We will not be used as props, standing in the back of the room, lending credibility to a staged presentation.”
Unfortunately, the PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, not only gave Woods use of the PGA Tour facilities for this latest act in his tragic downfall but sat there, front row and center, to give his full stamp of approval to everything Tiger was doing. Finchem sat with chin on chest looking as if he had just swallowed the worst tasting dose of medicine imaginable.
Can you imagine commissioner Bud Selig, of Major League Baseball, attending one of the many recent mea culpas by MLB players who have admitted to the public that they used performance enhancing drugs? Selig makes many boo boos in his job. But putting his blessing on such sessions is not one of them.
Tiger is just the latest celebrity to fall from grace and then go public begging for forgiveness. Personally, I am getting tired of these mea culpas.
Although disappointed with Tiger’s talk, I do hope he can walk the walk after talking the talk.
Gordon White served 43 years as a sports reporter for The New York Times. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
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