Tiger Woods Bogeyed His Televised Apology

The news of the day appears to be critical evaluations of an apology given by golf star Tiger Woods for his sexual infidelity. Newspapers and blogs ask, ”Is Tiger out of the rough?” as they reflect on his ”bad outing,” musing that his wife ”still holds the score card.” Who knew we could have such fun with golf metaphors?

The bigger question is not how well did Tiger do with his apology, but what does it say about us as a society that we care so much? Why do we allow news about health care and wars — news that truly affects us all — to be pushed to page 12? Why are we so interested in reading about the apology grades given by a panel of experts? For that matter, how does one become an expert in apologies?

Don’t we all have a bit of expertise after having invested so much time in the sordid details of the extramarital affairs of David Letterman, Gov. Mark Sanford and (insert our own favorite celebrity here). I was going to add more names myself but there are just too many to list. I Googled the phrase, ”celebrity affairs,” and the first result was an article at http://www.foxnews.com titled ”Celebrity Affairs to Remember,” documenting 13 pages with all the recent affair developments we’ll want to remember for posterity. There were even some entries I did not know! How did I miss Marily Manson’s affair? (”The blogosphere went wild,” according to Fox News.) Country music star Shania Twain’s ex-husband ”rocked her world!” Oh the clever metaphors never cease! Then there was Brittany Spears, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts – are you all keeping score?

For some reason, we do care about the details and we want to evaluate the apologies when we hear them. Personally, I don’t know very much about Tiger Woods except that he seems to be an exceptional athlete and I find it very difficult to compete against him with my Wii console.

I gave him an ”F” for his apology because this is what I really wanted to hear him say:

”To the members of the media and the listening and viewing public: As nearly everyone knows, I have engaged in extramarital affairs. I am not here today to apologize to you for that. There are some people that do deserve an apology, and a whole lot more than just an apology for that matter, but those individuals are not here today, and I will do my best to make amends privately.”

“I am sorry that you are so interested in the personal details of my life. I realize that I have brought some of that on myself by trading on my positive reputation in return for corporate sponsorship. Perhaps that gives the illusion that I owe the public an apology when I have personal failures. But the truth is I was just selling golf equipment and clothing, and you were buying them. That does not entitle you to an apology. My wife deserves an apology. So do my kids. So do the women with whom I had dishonest relationships. These are the only people that deserve an apology.”

“I am grateful to have been given an athletic gift that has allowed me to excel in the game of golf. I am also grateful to my fans who praise my achievements. I hope the public will recognize that more than one-third of men and women have cheated in their marriages. I am not proud to be part of that statistic, but I do hope the public will come to realize that, as in your own families, this is a private matter for me and the people I have wronged.”

Now that apology would be a ”hole in one!”
This piece by The CFLE Director Bill Taverner was published in The Morning Call on February 26, 2010.