Friday, February 19, 2010

And now, a few words about apology

…no, this is not me apologizing for not standing during the national anthem!

I don’t often write about popular news topics on this blog, for two excellent reasons:

1. Popular news tends to be boring and banal and base, and

2. You’re sick of hearing about it, too – that’s why you’re here instead of CNN/MSNBC/Huffington Post/your city newspaper site, isn’t it?

Today, I’m going to make an exception to this rule. I’m not going to wonder if you heard the Tiger Woods apology this morning – most of you have. The fact that an athlete apologizing for marital infidelity is considered a SPECIAL REPORT by CBS, NBC, and ABC – and more important than the man who flew his plane into an IRS building yesterday – says something about America, and it is not good.

What we saw was a professional golfer standing at a podium, looking like a kid waiting for the principal to see him, reading a pre-written statement that was heavy with the clichés that a flyover state sportswriter might reach for at 2 a.m. – “I have let down my fans,” “I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply,” “Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count,” and so on.

Is Woods truly sorry? Is this another step in his rehab? Or is this just another one of those BS PR apologies that makes thinking people yawn? I do not know, and it doesn’t matter to me. But it did make me ponder the meaning of apology.

An apology is a gift – not an obligation. Tiger Woods does not owe the press or public an apology. I would go so far as to say that he doesn’t even owe it to his wife – the one person to whom this matters the most. He should apologize only

1. If his remorse is sincere, and

2. If he is going to stop the offending behavior.

Issue #2 is most important. Don’t waste your breath or my time with an apology if you’re going to keep on keepin’ on.

Suppose I was driving down the street, and from out of nowhere a pink paintgun pellet strikes one of my car doors. (This actually happened years ago.) If I had to choose between an apology and the money to repaint the door, I would choose the money. (In real life, I received neither, and the pink stain remained on my car to the day I traded it in.) Words are only words – it is action that counts. Please do what you can to alleviate the wrong.

We the public will not see, and should not see, whether or not Woods will change (unless he errs again in the same spectacular way.) I say let’s all keep an eye on ourselves and our behavior first, not a puffed-up SPECIAL REPORT. (Remember when SPECIAL REPORTS were actually special and announced events of world-shaking importance? But that’s another post for another day.)

No comments:

Post a Comment