I know that, traditionally, sports apologies are pretty lame. But Tiger’s speech yesterday was without doubt the most pathetic thing I've ever seen. I'm not going to get into the details surrounding what Tiger did, with whom, where, and how many times. The tabloids have done a sufficient job with that. What I’m interested in is what happened yesterday, and what it says about the state of sports stars and their impact on society. Many years ago Charles Barkley famously said, “I am not a role model.” He was right. The comment came with backlash, of course. But at least he was a human being, shooting from the hip. Today’s athlete is nothing more than an agent-driven, PR-ready robot. And Tiger Woods is the Pied Piper.
TIGER: I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife, Elin, and to my children.
What angers me most is how over-the-top fake and devoid of all humanness Tiger’s apology was. I understand that athletes throughout history have handled controversy in the same cookie-cutter fashion. But yesterday’s display was insultingly robotic. This was a new low. From Tiger’s practiced pauses between scripted lines to his hyper-intense eye contact with the camera, it was so staged, and faked, and phony, I don’t know how anyone, at any age, could ever take this clown seriously again, as a person or athlete.
TIGER: I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.
As a sports fan and human being, I simply don’t understand why yesterday’s setup had to be so contrived and artificial. Tiger, if you’re going to hold a press conference after 3 months of cryptic silence, why not allow the press to enter and ask actual questions, even if they're predetermined? Why not give your fans and sponsors, the people who've made you a billionaire, the respect of an honest, human response to your insanely-selfish acts? And if not that, can you at least give the guise of honesty and humanness? What does yesterday’s disgusting display say to children and young people who might’ve admired Tiger in the past? That you can behave so far outside the boundaries of decency then answer for it by staging some parroted farce a five year old could see as phony. All this coming from a guy who talks about teaching children honesty and integrity on his website. Could this agent-operated joke of a human being be any more of a hypocrite? It was perhaps the most disgusting 13 minutes in sports history. My only solace is in hoping that Tiger Woods, as a PR-product, means nothing to teenagers in this country. I can only hope.
TIGER: I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by.
As silly as Kobe Bryant’s accused-of-rape apology was, at least it was somewhat human. At least Kobe wasn’t reading off a script like a damn puppet. At least Kobe’s wife was by his side, which is more than I can say for Elin Woods. And The Alex Rodriguez charade with Peter Gammons last spring (when Rodriquez was accused of steroid abuse) was so full of lies and half-answers, it was laughable. But compared to Tiger, A-Rod is Jerry Seinfeld. The truth is Tiger's always been a spoiled, selfish baby, from the temper tantrums on the golf course to the awkward magazine spreads, filled with photos of a man in love with himself. Personally, I don’t give a damn about Tiger Woods as an athlete. I recognize his greatness but have always been aware of his robotic way, and because of that I’ll take Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter over Woods anytime. Why? Because in those two I sense genuineness, something that tells me they are actually human.
TIGER: It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. But I've taken my first steps in the right direction.
The truth is Tiger is a total phony in every way. His display yesterday was a disgrace. And if his handlers think that’s enough for this mess to be forgotten, they’re sadly mistaken. You’re talking about a guy, in Woods, who actually married an underwear model who can’t even speak English. Come on, really? Do real people actually do that? Every aspect of his life has been handled in robotic fashion, even his discretions against Elin were so assembly-line in their execution. Trust me I understand the importance of high-profile people having a plan to take on the press, to keep actual emotion suppressed. I get it. At what point though does it just get insulting? If Tiger, for the first time in his phony life, unhooked the puppet strings and just gave some halfway-honest answers, America would’ve moved closer to forgetting. And I know if he comes back and plays great golf, this embarrassing stretch will seem less important, but I hope people never forget how pathetically fake Woods was yesterday.
TIGER: I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.
At this point in the scripted speech (when Woods talked about Buddhism) I was ready to puke. But the most shocking revelation I reached yesterday was the fact that Tiger’s over-the-top phony display, constantly reminded me of a political speech, something our elected officials would attempt to sell us. Of course Tiger is a puppeteered joke. But the fact that he looked and sounded so much like our national leaders, was alarming to say the least.
Read and see the whole speech: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/19/tiger-woods-speech-press_n_468880.html