Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tiger Woods' "Apology"

Did you see Tiger's mea culpa on live TV last week? BULLDOG REPORTER asked for my comments, and here's what I wrote:

It was not a news conference, and it was barely an apology. A handpicked group of family and friends? No real reporters asking questions? And Tiger delivering a robot-like, poorly read statement (without prompters) in a room that looked like a funeral parlor? This is the best his handlers could come up with after all this time?

He seemed at times over-rehearsed (the emotional pause, the hand on his heart); for the most part, his delivery came off as phony and insincere while working from a script obviously written by a committee, not by him.

And Tiger's costar in this little drama? Not his wife Elin, but his mother, looking stern at first and later looking down, unable to watch her own son. Then this Oedipal embrace after the speech? Please!

The wide shot of the crowd's reactions spoke volumes. If Tiger couldn't connect with this handpicked bunch of toadies, he sure couldn't do a good job connecting with the public. This entire "public apology" was too little far too late to do anything useful in reviving his damaged brand.

What should have been done instead? My perspective:

1. Tiger's handlers should not have waited so long to go public, letting the story grow and fester.

2. Why not do his mea culpa one-on-one with someone like Bob Costas in a controlled interview with agreed-to ground rules on the questions. Surely some journo would whore themselves for that exclusive.

3. If he had to read a statement, rehearse it! It needed to sound genuine and spontaneous, not scripted and unprepared.

4. Whatever it took, have his wife there showing genuine support.

Last Friday's performance was weak. Instead of putting the story to rest, everything he tried to avoid (reporters, questions, real emotions) will be waiting for him when he returns to the public eye.

Tiger will be back. But he'll never be a star again. And I doubt, given all that's on his mind, he'll ever play great golf again. I'd predict that the last of his sponsors will slip away in the coming months. The Germans have a word for it: Schadenfreude.


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