Remember, Tiger Woods Is Just a Golfer

John P. WiseContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2010

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 19:  Tiger Woods makes a statement from the Sunset Room on the second floor of the TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour on February 19, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods publicly admitted to cheating on his wife Elin Nordegren but maintained that the issues remain 'a matter between a husband and a wife.'  (Photo by Joe Skipper-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

Tiger Woods

One Great Season

What do you do for a living?

Oh, you're a banker? A therapist? A nurse, you say?

Let's say you're an auto mechanic. Should I expect you to be a great speech writer as well? Or an expert on public speaking?

That would be ludicrous for me to make such connections or assumptions, but that's exactly what America did in its collective knee-jerk reaction to Tiger Woods' 13-minute C3-PO impersonation Friday. We expected his address to have been better.

Being the best golfer in the world—perhaps in history—is hardly a guarantee for a man otherwise short on personality, a man who prefers his privacy, that he'll be a great public speaker.

And Friday's stiff, awkward, 1,500-word apology was far from a typical speech. It was Woods' first public acknowledgment of his sex-addicted life of entitlement on the cushy PGA tour. How would you have handled yourself behind the podium and in front of a television camera that you know was piping your apology into the homes of millions of people?

Now, don't get me wrong; Tiger is a scumbag who's dug himself quite a deep hole, and his nearly three-month disappearance left all of us asking questions. Our drama-obsessed culture has shaped us to believe we need to know everything about this and every titillating story.

And by all means, we can ask the questions. We can gossip with our co-workers and judge Tiger as if we'd never find ourselves asking those closest to us for forgiveness.

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But who are we to expect the answers? Why do we think we have anything to do with Tiger's deviant addictions or his marital mess? He owed us nothing in November and owes us nothing now. Just as Tiger mistakenly felt entitled to the privileges of fame and celebrity, we've mistakenly gotten comfortable with the notion that Tiger is required to tell us every erotic detail.

We can all dream about how we'd spend the money if we won the lottery, or what we'd do if our favorite team won the Super Bowl. But to think you'd know what you would do if you were in Tiger's Nikes right now is impossible to believe. Sure, you'll claim you wouldn't have gotten yourself into the predicament in the first place, but let me know when you're living his kind of life, resisting his kind of temptations every single time.

Since my dad's death in 1992, I've learned that folks grieve in different ways. Some prefer not to talk about a lost loved one; I, however, rarely pass up a chance to talk about my father. My way isn't the right way; it's just the right way for me.

And Friday, Tiger's effort was indeed produced and robotic, but it was effort nonetheless. It's his apology, not yours, so who really cares that you would have appeared more spontaneous and heartfelt? His speech was the first of what will no doubt be many steps toward changing his life. And changing his life is what he looks like he's ready to do, not charm Americans with a televised speech.

Tiger is trying to save his marriage and keep his family together, and because we've built him up for 15 years and circulated his sexy story since Thanksgiving, he's going to have to do it on television. He didn't ask for it.

We've gotten used to politicians losing themselves in scandalous infidelity, so why would we think one of the world's most recognizable athletes would be above such a mess? Tiger Woods is just a guy who plays golf for a living, and it's time to remember that fact and allow him to repair his life the way any of us would try to do.

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