Tiger Woods remains a wounded superstar
– Charles S. Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, “No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle.” The views expressed are his own. –
Before watching the Tiger Woods statement, because much had been made of the fact that he would be reading from a script and that the few pool reporters present in the room in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida would not be allowed to ask questions, I was prepared to open this review with a pithy remark such as: “It was the farce heard round the world!” or something like that.
I even found initial support for my pre-Woods statement attitude by looking at a map CNN briefly displayed showing the distance between where Woods was going to be speaking before what was often referred to as a mostly “hand-picked” group, and the hotel where most of the press corp would be watching the “event,” unable to perform their customary function of probing and challenging any of the remarks Woods would make.
However, as a long time journalist and media consultant, I must also admit that I was impressed by what Woods had to say and, writing this from my perch in West Hollywood, California, a quick Bentley’s drive from Beverly Hills, I wish many of this town’s often self-wounded “elite” would be brave enough to say only some of the things Woods had to say.
He certainly hit all the right notes: He profusely apologized to his fans, his business associates and, most important, to his wife and family. He took full responsibility for his actions and was open and candid about his need for help and his desire for others to help him. He spoke of his religious beliefs and his own fall from grace. He called his affairs with various women “unacceptable.”
“For all that I have done, I am sorry. I have a lot to atone for,” he said.
But then he said something that I thought truly extraordinary and refreshing.
He talked about how his fame and fortune led him to believe that he was beyond the rules that “normal” folks usually live by. In fact, Woods said, he came to feel that he was “entitled” to commit what others might think of as transgressions. But now, he says, he has come to the realization that he doesn’t get to play by different rules.
Woods, I think, is correct when he chastises the news media for its pursuit of his wife, children and even, he pointed out, his mother, who was in attendance and with whom he engaged in a long embrace at the conclusion of his remarks.
I think the public will understand his desire to shield his family as much as possible.
Media experts will tell you that it is important that such public displays of contrition be accompanied by a sort of blueprint for the future. Woods did not disappoint. When will he return to golf? Not sure, he says. Maybe this year. But his therapy, he said, would continue right away. His long association with educational programs for children–that, too, he said, would continue.
I suspect that there may be a gender divide in how people perceive Woods’ remarks. And I suspect Woods, or his advisers, were well aware of this. Woods went out of his way to exonerate his wife, who has become the butt of late night comedy show jokes, for physical attacks on her husband that Woods says never happened. In fact, he said, domestic violence was never a part of his marriage.
Woods remains a superstar. Though a greatly wounded one, and one who has lost considerable income from some of his previous corporate sponsors. My guess is, over time, he will gain much of that back. My guess is, over time, he will once again play golf in the super-human way he plays the game. My guess is, over time, we will see a new, chastened and refreshed Tiger Woods; a Tiger Woods who, for the first time, might really deserve to be called, a role model.