Like much of America, I watched Tiger Woods’ 13-minute apology Friday, a story that was handled by the TV networks as if it had the significance of a moon landing. I would give his apology a “C” grade overall. That grade comes from my totally subjective average of the following 5 factors.
Level of contrition: A. Tiger called himself “selfish,” “foolish,” “deeply sorry,” “embarrassed.” He also said: “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.” He also said of his multiple affairs: “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.” In other words, he at least sounded like he knew this mess was all his fault.
“Control” factor: F. Woods’ refusal to take questions – and yet to invite selected journalists to more or less serve as “props” for this made-for-TV event – prompted a boycott by a prominent association of golf writers. This was Tiger's biggest mistake -- not answering at least a few questions. Tiger has done thousands of press conferences. He could have talked about what he wanted to, skipped over what he didn’t and made himself appear a lot more human and a lot less controlling.
“From the heart” factor: B. It sounded to me like Tiger actually wrote the statement, or at least most of it. I’ve been around him enough that I don’t think he had a scriptwriter craft this one -- it sounded the way he usually sounds, except he was talking about affairs instead of putts. He didn’t cry. And while that was genuine – he shouldn’t manufacture tears if he didn’t have any – that did make it seem at times a little too polished, the hugs at the end a little too perfect.
“Don’t blame the wife” factor: C. Tiger said his wife Elin deserves “praise,” not “blame.” He said she had never hit him. He did not say much else about her, except to tell the paparazzi to leave her and his kids alone. Bet that'll stop 'em.
Actual news factor: D. Tiger’s statement made for good TV – people will remember where they were when they watched it – but it didn’t answer a lot of questions, including anything about what happened Thanksgiving night; specifics about what had been incorrectly reported about his life (he asserted there were many falsehoods out there); when he is coming back to golf and whether he and his wife planned to stay together.
About the only thing I actually learned from the statement that I didn’t know before Friday at 11 a.m. was that he is trying to return to Buddhism, the religion his mother raised him in as a youngster.