I’m watching Tiger Woods’ speech as I write this, and aside from being very glad that his wife isn’t standing right next to him at the moment, I don’t know what to say about it.
When he says he hopes we’ll believe in him again, my knee-jerk answer is that most people who believed in him did so because he was a great golfer. If he returns to golf and once again performs brilliantly, people will believe in him again. If not, not. If Dwight Gooden had returned to his 1984-5 level of performance after his drug problems, he would have become a hero again, and deservedly.
That’s the one thing that keeps our society’s attitude to sports at least mildly healthy. At the moment, some analyst on CNN is calling his speech a “disaster” because of the optics of it, saying that Woods’ refusal to take questions and his attacks on the media will “anger the media.” He’s probably right, in a sense. But that just demonstrates that the public may be smarter than the monolith known as “the media.” The public normally “forgives” public figures for doing stuff that is actually none of our business, as long as these public figures give us something in return (entertainment, thrills, heroism). It’s the TV talking heads who seem consumed with the idea that Woods or Bill Clinton or whoever owe us something more than that. Someone on CNN just said he expected to see some “humility” from Woods and instead saw only “arrogance.” How about expecting some good golf from him instead?
As for the announcement that he’s going back for more therapy… I’m sure that therapy can help sometimes. But sleeping around is not exactly uncommon among athletes (let alone a sign of a serious problem), so every time an athlete makes an announcement like that, I’m always remembered of another athlete with problems, Sam Malone:
Niles: Is it my imagination, or is Sam flirting with Daphne?
Frasier: Of course he’s flirting with her. He flirts with everyone. He can’t help it, he’s a sexual compulsive. But he’s getting help for it in a support group.
From the kitchen, Daphne giggles and titters again.
Niles: Did he miss a meeting?!