And There It Is: Tiger's Polished Apology

Scott Tinley, a two-time Ironman World Champion, is a professor teaching sport humanities courses at San Diego State University. He is the author of several books. His most recent work is Racing the Sunset.


In Tiger Woods' long-awaited and perfectly-scripted admission of infidelity, we only learned what we already knew-when Woods wants to do something well, he is the master. His announcement included all of the elements required to move him in the direction he desires-out of the dark spotlight and back into the welcoming folds of public and corporate arms. There was the necessary admission of guilt, the mea culpa, the invocation of a higher power, the lack of details and the plea for forgiveness with promise to return the grand favor. There were also the wonderfully-crafted caveats: the update on his progress, the denial of additional wrongdoing, the exoneration of his wife, and the mysterious future of his marriage and his profession. Oh…and there was the mention of his non-profit foundation as well.

Score one for Woods in a tactful redirect as he took aim at the paparazzi. Score one for Woods as he admits how hard it is to admit that he "doesn't get to play by different rules." Score one for Woods for reaching out to his peers who appear to be increasingly muted over the whole affair.

And score one for Elin for giving it a miss.

Working the front row crowd upon completion, man-hugs all around, Tiger Woods played the role as well as he could. Like a great film script, the audience had become involved in the narrative. His problem became our problem.

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But too bad for Tiger that this genre has been over-produced. We already knew what he was going to say and what he was going to leave out. The only real surprise was his invocation of Buddhism instead of a Judeo Christian God.

Of course he will be forgiven and like the iconic fallen hero before him, we will re-learn to appreciate his vast physical talent and continue to confuse it with the carefully chosen traits of integrity and responsibility that he referenced in his speech.

His were a purposeful and polarizing selection of words. Where the cynics are never going to forgive him and his die hards already have, when Woods inferred that his healing was an ongoing process he was pleading to those in the middle to make up their minds; as if to ask "I need you now, not in ten years when I'm playing on the Old Guys Circuit."

But Woods cannot be faulted in the least for his straightforward mechanics. His methodology is what propelled him to greatness. Where the playfulness in admissions found in Hugh Grant's "there it is" or Bode Miller's "winning means something different to them than me" are refreshingly attractive to us, one gets the feeling that Woods has much work to do before he can laugh at himself, at his humanness.

How different would Tiger have appeared if he'd stood up to the microphone in lime green pants and white golf shoes, scratched his head and asked the world "What the *&^% was I thinking?"

Some of the Great Fallen never achieved that level of self-reflexivity. Richard Nixon and Pete Rose come to mind. Perhaps Buddhism will teach Woods of the impermanence of all things. Or maybe an astronomy lesson that reminds us that the stars we see in the sky have already burnt out a long time ago. But they are still stars to us and on any given night when it's clear and there is nothing in the atmosphere to taint our view, they can be a beautiful thing.

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