Tiger issued his formal statement of regret today. I listened on the radio. You can read it here.
Of course, there is no way to know of his sincerity, though he seemed to be honest to me. I haven’t listened to much afterward, but my guess is that all the pundits are commenting on whether he said the right things, did he really mean it, why he said what he did and didn’t say what they wanted to hear (when he’s going to play golf again), why he didn’t allow questions and the like.
I think it might be interesting to look at the content of what he said to understand about making apologies.
One very true statement he made in a quote from his wife was: “my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time.” The words are important, but ultimately his actions will still determine his relationships, with his family, friends, sponsors, business partners and the fans. The perception of Tiger was that he was an upstanding man of integrity who was doing things the right way. That all blew up on Thanksgiving weekend and it won’t be east to put his image back into any semblance of what it was before. It will take time and proven behavior. For his wife, that will involve complete transparency of time, money, schedule, friends, etc. For others the time for restoration is probably proportional to the closeness of relationship.
He said he was sorry, truly, deeply sorry three different times. But more important that even that, several times he called his actions “wrong,” “irresponsible,” “selfish,” “foolish” and the like. He took ownership of his own wrongdoing. He said these were things he had done, without excuse really, though he did attempt to give explanations.
“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 ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.
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. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.”
Those two paragraphs provide an amazing insight into the life and thoughts of Tiger Woods. As much as we may want to condemn his actions that were deplorable, we must also take a careful look at ourselves to see how we would have dealt with such fame, wealth and opportunity. As I listened and then read this transcript I see a lot of humility for a man who has not previously had to deal with much humility.
He also talks several times about the impact of his actions on others. He acknowledges the hurt he caused his family, his friends and the other tour players. He acknowledges the fans, and especially the kids, who have looked to him as a role model. It seems to me that he understands the depth of pain he has caused to those closest to him and the disappointment that others have.
The only part of his statement that is disappointing to me is his search for a solution in his childhood religion, Buddhism. What a sad thought that his only hope for life is to reign himself in, exercising more self-control of which it appears he had none to little to begin with. What a sad thing that he sees no need for ultimate redemption, forgiveness and restoration. He say that “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.” How sad that Buddhism denies the very desire for God, “a craving for things outside ourselves,” who does provide our ultimate security. By pointing back to within ourselves, Buddhism pushes the follower away from the illicit life that is unsatisfying but it also pushes away from the One who alone is satisfying. Is life a “pointless search for security”? Or is there a point to our search? I believe that the point to the search is to find Christ. And a news flash for Tiger: Looking within yourself for security is also pointless. Only Jesus satisfies.