Tiger Woods’ public apology about his infidelity was both unsettlingly and unnecessary.
The apology marks the fall of the No. 1 golfer in the world and reflects the rise in American society’s insatiable intrusion into the private lives of public figures.
The event, which was televised live, was amazingly treated as if were a major announcement by a head of state.
Woods, who was making his first public statement since a Nov. 27 car crash set off a wave of revelations about his extramarital affairs, talked for about 13 minutes from behind a podium backed by a blue curtain.
“I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable,” Woods said.
In perhaps one of the most candid statements ever made by a public figure caught in a sex scandal, Woods admitted he felt he “deserved to enjoy the temptations” that came with his success. Woods said he is solely responsible for his actions. “I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior,” Woods said.
Woods said he was in treatment for sex addiction for 45 days and will return for more therapy. He said he has more work to do to resolve his personal problem.
Woods said the right words but to the wrong audience.
Tiger Woods owes his wife and family an apology. He does not owe the public an apology. Yet for some, Woods apology was not good enough anyway.
Some sports columnists and even some political pundits on Sunday morning talk shows weighed in and said they did not believe Woods and that he would have to prove himself to them by his actions in the future.
Let’s get real.
Even former President Bill Clinton did not apologize to the public for cheating on Hillary. Should Tiger be held up to a higher standard than a former president?
There are times when an athlete should apologize to the public. When an athlete uses steroids, takes a dive or bets on a game in which he is competing, he owes the public an apology for bringing dishonor to his sport. An athlete should apologize to the public when he cheats in his sport but he does not need to publicly apologize for cheating on his spouse.
This is not to excuse Woods adultery. It’s just not our business.
This does not mean that the media was wrong to cover the Woods story from the moment of his accident, and his quick fall from grace. He is a public figure, one of world’s most recognizable and highly paid athletes. What he does is news. The public wants to know.
However public figure does not mean public property. Being a fan does not give anyone the right to make unrestricted demands on an athlete’s private life. The idea that Woods should seek the public’s forgiveness is absurd.
(Irv Randolph is the managing editor of the Philadelphia Tribune.)