Five days removed from Valentine’s Day, it was fascinating theater to watch a contrite Tiger Woods, the celebrated golf hero, re-emerge from his foxhole—sans his beleaguered wife—and issue his first public statement after falling very deeply from a very high international pedestal.
The event took place at a secluded location, where only a handful—some representing mega organizations—were invited.
It lasted 13 minutes and 30 seconds.
The curtain background of the room where this much-awaited event was held: Guess what? It was blue! A stroke of public relations genius? Well, it added some seriousness to the theater, of course.
Woods addressed a small group of friends, colleagues, and close associates at the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass—home of the PGA Tour—in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Elin, his Swedish wife, still nursing her wounds, was conspicuously absent from the much-hyped press conference.
"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in," he began.
Well done, Tiger; that was the least expected of you. A little late, but it did happen; that’s OK.
Maybe some media company wrote it up. Who cares? An apology is an apology—whether up-front or belatedly, whether extemporaneously blurted out by himself or crafted up by an articulate, designated saint in behalf of the sinner, it doesn’t really matter now.
Guilt was owned up to and admitted by the real person. Who are we to judge this person’s motives? His exposed actions had already forced him to be judged severely. And, sadly, they excruciated his own wife and children, too.
Losing mega millions of endorsement money from commercial firms would be the least of the heavy losses he had inflicted upon himself and his loved ones. He can move on as he continues to receive professional therapy for sex addiction.
The road he faces, just like he said in the press conference, will be long and difficult.
The road that lies ahead of him and his family will be an uphill battle. There are no special guarantees that his wife will not leave him. She can now run off with much more money than she would ever need for the rest of her life.
She could now leave Woods in the lurch. She could even remarry soon, if she wants to, as soon as their affairs are fully ironed out. She has been conferred with this right.
That she will not exercise this right will speak volumes on her behalf. Something in her public persona and recent actuations seem to tell us that this woman is different and rather special.
To place oneself behind a transparent glass that can be pierced by stones, admit a mistake, and apologize for what he did was a positive, first big step in correcting a huge wrong.
Woods must be accepted as a repentant human being, not a filthy rag that we can self-righteously step upon.
How many of the numerous public figures and celebrities, who are well-known for their moral excesses and bizarre behavior, ever stepped up to make a public apology? Too few.
Of those that did apologize, how many have come forth in a public setting and admit their wrongful actions—and issue a public apology that lasted more than 30 seconds? Very few.
In this endangered society and other societies dealing with high divorce rates and pervasive adultery from either gender, forgiveness is a positive first step in helping the fallen striving hard to regain their feet.
America is a country whose citizens could enjoy many second chances. It is what makes the nation strong and resilient.
Of course, it is a little disturbing that celebrities get them more than anybody else.
On the other hand, their private lives become public property, and they are exposed to different forms of danger. As long as everyone gets his second chance—and sometimes a third—it’s acceptably fine for every one else. We hope.
After he finished speaking before this small, pre-chosen group that excluded many of the media—some of whom were either barred from the event or boycotted it—a storm of reactions nationwide immediately followed.
The members of the media issued a mixture of reactions. Some said it was presidential, even combative, and rehearsed. Some said Woods was sincere and believable. Some said he was lying and just doing damage control. Others said it was scripted, controlled, and orchestrated and that he sounded robotic.
Psychology experts chimed in and stated, more or less, the same mixture of thoughts.
One body-language expert even said on ESPN that Woods' lack of hand gestures proved he was lying. He was boring, ineffective, and inauthentic, according to her. It seemed to her the standard theater wasn’t so complete. The analysis she put forth was really broken down to that level of clinical minutiae.
Yet no one can deny that once he had put himself on that spot, he would be vulnerable. Perhaps there was wisdom in restricting his audience size and the banning of questions.
What’s important is that he was contrite and apologetic for his errant behavior. That’s acceptable and responsible behavior.
Just a few hours after his public apology, ESPN ran a large Internet survey asking, “How did Tiger come across on his public apology: Sincere or not sincere?” The survey quickly returned an approval rating for Woods: 67 percent to 33 percent.
Americans are forgiving people, shall we say not? Remember how we viewed President Clinton and Mark McGuire after they issued their public apologies? It certainly did not increase their popularity by one bit. But they were forgiven. That is more far more important.
Woods shared in his public apology that Elin, his wronged wife, told him that the sincerity and truthfulness of the many apologies he had offered up to her, both in private and public, need to pass the test of time. Let us wait and see. And pray for them.
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