|Robot Tiger finally speaks. Yawn.
It was the moment we had all been waiting for. And waiting. And waiting.
Tiger Woods was finally going to come forward and speak to the media – make that three pool reporters – and a handful of friends and corporate associates. As with all things Tiger, it was highly staged and orchestrated by Tiger Corp., hence the presence of Nike reps in the front row.
After months of rumors, Tiger sightings and information and misinformation flooding every corner of the Internet, Woods was finally going to speak publicly for the first time.
People wondered if Tiger would give details of the night in November when his public, and seemingly private, life went off the rails. What fools they were. Tiger had absolutely nothing to offer in the way of details, with the exception of his return (unclear as it may be) to golf and the fact that he and his wife are not getting divorced (at least not yet).
If Tiger Woods had come out in November and said what he said on the February Friday in question, people would have likely been satisfied. Woods may not have come across as entirely sympathetic, only because he had not been dragged through so much mud to allow him to be a somewhat sympathetic character, but people would have been happy to give him another chance and generally accepted his contrition as genuine.
But that boat sailed back in November. December, at the latest. After all this time, the media, his sponsors, his fans, and his friends wanted answers. What they got was self-righteous indignation, a little bit of contrition and a whole lot of Tiger being Tiger, which is to say robotic and arrogant all at once.
The optics of the whole ordeal alone were surreal: Woods stood alone at a podium in a small room, backed by a blue curtain and fronted by three women. His mother was an obvious character. But who were the other two? One was from the Tiger Woods Foundation and the other was from the Nike Foundation. I don’t know about you, but I’d never seen either of those women before, and I doubt we will ever see them again. But Tiger Corp. felt it good they sit there gently weeping, as if to prove that Tiger is not totally loathsome by the fact that three women who know him could sit within spitting distance of him and not actually spit at him.
Say this much about Tiger: People give a crap. I don't know anyone who didn't watch this morning's speech. There isn't another athlete -- not one -- who could have made the world stop from 11 to 11:15 like Tiger Woods did.
I have been shocked by people who say that Tiger seemed accountable, as he used the language of therapy to discuss his sins and his fallibility as a flawed human. They point to the following statement as being most indicative of his realization that he had done something terribly wrong:
"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. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have far -- I didn't have to go far to find them. I was wrong, I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules."
The same people who buy that Tiger believes that statement are the same people who were accusing Tiger of all the things for which he was accepting responsibility in that statement. Every columnist, blogger, radio host and wife in America were either jealous or simply angry that he did what he did and generally got away with it for years, that they accused of him of thinking he got to play by different rules, that he was entitled and that he could get away with whatever he wants.
That’s why he apologized for those things. Not because he thought they were wrong – hell, those are the benefits of being wildly rich and famous – but because the public wanted him to feel sorry for those things. If he honestly felt sorry about those things, don’t you think he would have had a slight bit of emotion in his voice? Don’t you think he wouldn’t sound like the kid robot in “Small Wonder”?
In fact, it seems the only time Tiger got truly emotional in his speech was when he accused the media and paparazzi of stalking his wife and children. Certainly, his wife and children should be given distance and not be put in danger. But was this really the time for Tiger to give the media, whom he was not even granting the opportunity to ask questions, a lecture about privacy rights. On top of that, if photos of Tiger and his kids playing cheerfully are released to the press in the next couple of weeks, wouldn’t he be using his children in the same way that he is warning the media not to?
Of course, to answer that question would require too much self-awareness. That is something that humans are capable of, not robots. - 02/24/2010