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Tiger Takes the High Road

African American news from Pasadena -  Turner's Two CentsTiger Woods' televised apology combined contrition with PR spin in a carefully-staged 14-minute confessional in which the disgraced golfer owned up to the arrogance and nihilism behind his countless extra-marital affairs. Woods also insisted on privacy for himself and his wife, Elin, and blasted the media for invading the lives of his children. It was a very effective statement, even if it did go overboard at times. Here's my Two Cents:

The key moment was when Tiger laid himself bare and admitted exactly how low-down he had been...

"I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself... I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled... I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me."

That was the gutsiest and most honest admission of guilt that I can recall hearing from a high profile public figure. I have no doubt that a lot of serial adulterers – especially those who are powerful, rich and famous – feel "entitled" to cheat on their spouses. Tiger's may be the first to step out in front of the whole world and 'fess up to that haughtiness in such self-damning terms.

"I have let you down, and I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners."

He sorta slipped it in there but the statement about his business partners may be the real reason Tiger spoke out in public. He's been tight-lipped about this situation for months but as one sponsor after the other bailed out, imperiling billions of corporate dollars and lots of high level jobs, Tiger had to say something.

"Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology."

As one of the parents to whom Tiger is referring, may I say that he does not owe me or my kids a special apology. I encourage my 11 and 13-year-old daughters to admire and emulate the accomplishments of famous people, not their personal lives. I tell them that many heroes have done shameful or despicable things behind closed doors. But those acts do not diminish their towering achievements, even if they do undermine our personal admiration.

"It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go. But I've taken my first steps in the right direction."

For the most part I'm a big believer in therapy. The clarity I've gained through work with counselors over the years has been invaluable. But I'm skeptical that Tiger Woods needs therapy. Is he really a sex addict? Is something wrong with him psychologically? Or is he simply an ordinary guy who succumbed to extraordinary temptations? Being the most successful, most famous and richest person in your field brings unique, limitless and never-ending opportunities for self-indulgence. When a married man pursues those opportunities he's being immoral, but he ain't crazy.

"As I proceed, I understand people have questions. I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful. I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I'm concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife."

He's absolutely right about that. In fact, Tiger and Elin Woods deserve an ovation for dealing with this privately, rather than putting their business in the street the way so many self-centered celebrities (Usher and Tameka, Jon and Kate, etc., etc.) have done.

Tiger was right to not take reporter's questions after he read his statement. Delving into the specifics of Tiger's affairs serves no purpose other than to satisfy the public's sordid curiosity and to make tacky, tabloid "celebrities" out of the women he slept with. (I find it odd, though not wholly surprising, that Tiger's mistresses have escaped the harsh criticism that's been leveled at Woods – as if they, somehow, are not guilty of carrying on with a man whom they knew was married. The opportunism shown by some of these women as they've rushed into the media spotlight, often pretending to be victims, has been disgraceful.)

"I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age...Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."

Celebrities who get caught messing up always claim to find religion. Hopefully, Tiger is sincere, but returning to the spiritual path his mother set for him is definitely smart public relations. Spirituality and mom – two of our most beloved, time-honored institutions! And the way Tiger's statement tied his new integrity in with Buddhist lessons about discipline and self-denial was very skillful. (Had he been raised Christian or Jewish, Tiger might have made the same point by invoking Proverbs 5:23 which states: "He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.")

Tiger Woods wrapped up his mea culpa by begging for sympathy...

"Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today, I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again."

That closing comment was schmaltzy but also shrewd. By capping his multiple apologies and admissions by figuratively getting down on his knees and pleading, Tiger Woods gave the public an opportunity to set aside anger and move toward forgiveness – or at least to move on past this tawdry, overblown mess. I have a feeling most people are ready, if not anxious, to do just that.

Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my Two Cents.
THINK! IT AIN'T ILLEGAL...YET!
 

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