Feb
20
2010
The Humbling of Tiger Woods
By Stephanie Wei under General

Twenty-four hours and twelve radio interviews later, I’ve talked about my reaction to Tiger Woods’ humiliating speech more than I wish to admit.

In my rambling scribbles right after, I honestly didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t decide whether his apology was heartfelt, humble and remorseful, or a phony effort to repair his tarnished image.

I wavered toward the latter, but three-quarters through my Friday media blitz, it dawned on me — perhaps the preconceived notions I had going into the well-orchestrated gathering unfairly swayed my previous conclusions. With the awful timing, the stately setting, the handpicked guests and unreasonable ground rules, how could it be anything but a farce? You would have thought a politician was resigning from office. The blue curtain. The podium. The seating. The only prop missing was an American flag standing proudly behind Tiger.

Before he took the podium (enter stage right), I was already annoyed and assumed it would be, well, some of what we saw: Tiger reading from a meticulous script and saying nothing. The painfully drawn-out pauses, the eye contact and hand gestures must have been written in his notes. I could almost see the words, “Tiger, look straight into the camera after you say, ‘I’ve let you down,’ pause for two seconds.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Hell, if I had to give the same shameful speech, knowing the entire world was watching, I would have done the same.

For the most part, his face showed little expression. But it doesn’t mean he wasn’t sincere. Watch one of his press conferences. Even his Nike commercials.

No doubt he shouldn’t have read but it’s not easy to utter truths, like, “For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing.” He stuttered and faltered many times. But Tiger isn’t a trained public speaker or actor (though he might have fooled us on occasion). For all the apologies he needed to dole out, it would have been impossible for him to memorize. I give him credit for letting his guard down, however little.

That said, I don’t buy all of it. There were moments when he sounded angry and resentful. And more than once he painted himself as the victim — you know, of the vile, vindictive media. Now that’s not the attitude of a man who’s come to terms with his mistakes. I feel terrible for Elin and his children, the real victims, who have had to suffer. Tiger continues to demand his privacy, but sorry, he relinquished that privilege when he chose the life that made him a billionaire. If he wanted to remain a private citizen, then he never should have signed multimillion-dollar endorsement contracts to sell Nike shirts and Gillette razors, or posted the now infamous photos of his family on his public website.

There are still questions left unanswered (e.g., which was his favorite mistress?!), some of which he’ll have to face eventually. But for the moment, I’m ready to move on. He deserves another chance and, like he said, it will be determined by his behavior over time.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming — the Accenture Match Play Championship. Let’s watch and talk some golf.

[Photo by Eric Gay/AP]