Tiger Woods, and Us

I'm not exactly sure what prompted me to go from Political Junkie to People magazine in this posting, but here I am. I'm not sure if the event discussed here — the Tiger Woods "confessional" — is even remotely political. Maybe, it's just about me. Or us.

I sat and watched his "public apology" on Friday morning, mostly because it was going to be the subject on that day's Barbershop segment on NPR's Tell Me More program. But I admit to some bit of curiosity. The world's first billion dollar athlete, he has not been seen or heard from since November, when reports of multiple infidelities became tabloid fodder. I didn't know what to expect.

My first reaction to his Friday confessional was completely dismissive. It was self-serving, I complained. It was controlled. It was staged. It seemed insincere. He appeared more concerned about his "image" and his "fans" than anything else. No questions from the media were allowed. In fact, there were no media. Even his post-statement sniffle seemed scripted. I didn't buy it.

And then, on more sober second thought, I realized this was more about me than about Woods. Who made me, or anyone, the arbiter of what was the "correct" response to scandal? I think back to when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford went before the cameras and confessed all — and I mean ALL — about his Argentine soulmate. Back then, I remember thinking, why in the world don't his handlers get him off that stage? Doesn't he realize how pathetic he's sounding? Enough already!

So here I am, complaining about Woods not taking questions, and yet I winced during every moment Sanford was taking questions.

And if the Sanford path was not the way to go, what was? The Bill Clinton method? Deny, deny, deny, until it got to a point when the denials no longer worked? Or the John Edwards method? Admit some guilt but deny the most important allegation? And then come back and apologize for lying once again only when you're caught?

So as I was sitting there, wondering what would have been the right way for him to deal with it, it suddenly occurred to me: Tiger Woods doesn't owe anything to me. Whatever transgressions that occurred should be dealt with by Tiger and Mrs. Tiger. It's none of my business. We can argue whether or not we have the right to expect/demand a coming clean from the president of the United States, who after all owes his job to us, the people. He got where he is because we elected him. But Tiger Woods doesn't owe anything to us. We didn't elect him to anything. He plays golf, for God's sakes. We can appreciate his talents, or not. We can buy a product he endorses, or not. Sure, we're disappointed that he didn't beg for our forgiveness — ultimately, it's all about us, isn't it? — but that's our problem, not his. It may be naive to expect people in the public eye, such as Tiger Woods, to be able to have a private life. But when idols fall, when we learn things that we wished we didn't know, it's something we need to work on as well.

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