Tiger Woods is getting more stupid advice. Instead of easing the scrutiny he has been enduring, the athletic superstar is about to increase public antipathy for his situation. Sympathy and forgiveness are not likely to be the outcome of his Friday "news conference."
Tiger's advisers have him convinced that he is different from other fallen public figures. Maybe they know he doesn't want to answer questions and because he pays them so well they aren't going to force the issue. Who wants to lose a gig working with Tiger Woods? Tiger has done things greater than most mortals and even other astounding athletes and his counselors appear to be testing a notion that he can play by different rules. He can't. Just because he took golf away from the plaid pants and martini crowd and turned it into a disciplined endeavor doesn't mean he's going to get a pass on his behavior.
The idea that he only has to read a written statement to a solitary live camera, a room full of friends and colleagues, and a few wire service reporters that have agreed not to ask questions, is certain to anger journalists and the public that has adored Tiger but still wants answers. Nobody wants to know how many women and how long this went on and whether his wife is considering taking him back into her life. But Tiger has to respond to reasonable inquiries from practicing journalists before he can expect to get another clean start with the public. He doesn't have to provide details but he does need to deliver honesty. He isn't likely to be given a second chance unless he gives some answers.
The first question to be asked, however, is about journalism. What kind of wire service goes to a "news conference" where no questions are allowed? Are they present simply to write about Tiger's facial expressions and how much he sweats? There probably aren't many reporters at Bloomberg, Reuters, or the Associated Press that want to attend this event and be ridiculed for sitting silently and playing by Tiger's rules. And if they don't ask questions, they are likely to endure a bit of their own ridicule from peers.
This appearance has the potential for Tiger's friends and colleagues gathered in the room to turn into a bit of a Greek chorus as he reads his statement. Politicians often try this public relations scam when they are beleaguered. Dealing with a controversy or a faux pas, the pol doesn't want to face journalists alone so he or she invites supporters to encircle the podium and populate the audience and applaud at responses and hiss at questions. It never works and only further angers reporters and they redouble their efforts to do critical reporting on the politician. Tiger risks cranking up the tabloids and TMZs of the world to go out and find more of his paramours.
Tiger is likely to endure the same treatment as the evasive politician. If he isn't going to answer questions, why not just videotape his statement and stream it on his web site? A cutaway camera could show all of the supporters in the room with him as he read and he wouldn't risk angering sports reporters. Regardless of how much contrition is in Tiger's statement Friday, it will not be enough unless he takes a few questions and provides honest, difficult answers. Someone ought to ask, first, why do this at the Accenture Match Play Tournament and distract from the golf? Is it because they were the first major sponsor to drop you? Are you being petty? Isn't there a better time and location?
The statement he will read, unfortunately, is fairly predictable.
"First, I want to apologize to the public and the fans and supporters of golf. I've been dishonest with my fans, myself, and most importantly, my family. I didn't know I had an addiction. I've entered treatment and believe I'm recovering. I am also trying to work things out with my family. I love my children and I am also working to save my marriage. This has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for my family and me. I realize I've dishonored all of the things I claimed were important. But I want to try again. I deserve a chance to try again. I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. But I am also a golfer. Golf is my life. It is who I am. And I cannot fully regain my life unless I am playing golf. So, I want to announce today that I am returning to the tour. Thank you."
Does that cover everything? Does the public have a right to know more? Should Tiger Woods answer the question of whether he was having extra-marital sex while his wife was pregnant? How long has he behaved this way? Where did he get the idea this way okay? If he didn't have that idea, why was he cheating when he knew he was one of the most high profile people on the planet? Where in the hell does the fan's right to know end and Tiger's privacy begin? He might need to denounce some of the stories about porn stars and having sex with someone other than his wife on the night his dad died. Don't these issues go to the heart of a man's character and help golf fans decide whether they can separate the man from his game, his life from his swing? Who the hell knows? But a five-minute statement in a completely controlled environment isn't going to end Tiger's woes.
And it may even make matters worse.
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