After expressing regret for his "transgressions" in a written statement in December but maintaining that "(p)ersonal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions," Tiger Woods is set to eat his words on Friday, when he plans to issue a public apology in front of a small group of friends, colleagues, and reporters in Florida.
Which is nothing short of historic. I mean, have you ever heard of a professional athlete apologizing for being a dog and having sex with women other than his wife? (Somewhere, Michael Jordan is laughing his ass off at a blackjack table.) Isn't that the sort of behavior we've come to expect from athletes like Tiger, the sort of behavior that, in fact, we not-so-secretly relish about them, that they aren't physically bound by the same laws that we civilians are, both on the playing field and in their pants? (Somewhere, Wilt Chamberlain, layer of 20,000 women, is rolling over in his grave.)
Let's think about this for a second.
Tiger Woods isn't an elected official. He didn't do anything illegal. He didn't hire a hooker (though, really, some of his mistresses looked the part). And nobody accused him of rape. These are usually the reasons why a public figure makes a carefully scripted, flak-approved, televised confession of infidelity. So what exactly is Tiger Woods trying to accomplish here?
Earlier in the week, I wrote that the Year of the Tiger was Tiger's year to make things right with his family and fans. I have no idea how he plans to do that with his family--besides forking over a hefty divorce settlement to Elin and maybe, like, buying her another island in her native Sweden--but I do know that the only way for Tiger to win back his fans is to win--to shut up, play golf, and collect more trophies. To, in the immortal words of his biggest sponsor, just do it. Those other cagey corporate endorsers who were quick to put him on ice after the sex scandal first broke will undoubtedly warm to him again so long as Tiger resumes doing what he does best, and that is dominating the PGA Tour.
Tiger's image, of course, will never be the same. Although he turned 34 at the end of December, Tiger carried an air of youthful wholesomeness deep into his adulthood. He lingered in our fantasies as the wunderkind, the child prodigy first introduced to the world on The Mike Douglas Show, the skinny kid at Stanford, the fist-pumping upstart who turned pro at 20. That image was lost around the time Tiger's mistress count soared into double digits, but this is America, and we love a second act. And once Tiger starts playing good golf again, people will forgive his transgressions--cheating on his wife, hating condoms, being a totally banal "sexter," and not being the quote-unquote "good guy" we thought he was--we'll forgive all of his "sins" just like that, no apology necessary.