Tiger Woods is coming out of hiding tomorrow for an 11 a.m. EST press conference where he’s expected to address his troubled past for the first time and discuss his future plans.
That means nearly three months will have passed since we last heard from the world’s most famous, er, infamous athlete. During that span, there’s been countless mistresses who’ve come forward, wild rumors reported and several endorsers giving the peace sign. Friday is Woods’ first step to earning back the adoration of the general public and fans like me.
OK, maybe adoration isn’t the word. Friday is Woods’ first step to earning some forgiveness.
This is a tough one for me. Prior to what went down last Thanksgiving, I was all-in for Tiger Woods. Favorite athlete? Hell, he was one of my favorite humans. The guy embodied excellence, hard work, grace, determination, relentlessness. His golf swing? A master stroke, like Picasso at the easel or Mozart at the piano. To watch Tiger Woods was a privilege.
I’m a diehard golf fan and I love the professional game. I need someone to cheer for on the PGA Tour, and frankly, it’s always been Tiger. He was, after all, the reason I even started golfing back in 1997, the year he won his first Masters. Tiger made golf cool, and even inspired the latest generation of pros who are now taking over the tour. I’ve been trying to follow guys like Anthony Kim and Stewart Cink, but they’re just not…Tiger.
Now, I don’t respect Tiger, but maybe I don’t need to. I’m not trying to watch his family life when the majors are on TV. His marriage, his family, his transgressions — they’re all part of his private life. The problem is when I look at Tiger, I want him to be as good as the hype I was fed growing up. And it’s not like I went out of my way to assume he was a good guy. That’s just the line I was given by his management company, his charity work, and Tiger, himself. There was no reason to believe otherwise.
I have no idea what he’ll say tomorrow at this press conference. I don’t even know what I want to hear. Obviously, he’ll say he’s sorry. He’ll say he’s not perfect. He’ll say he’s been working on his flaws, that he respects the privacy he’s somehow found despite the relentless media and paparazzi. He’ll probably cry, speak to his imperfection, mention he’s a constant work in progress. I doubt he expects anyone to forgive him tomorrow.
I was texting my good friend Luke over the weekend about Tiger. We were in agreement that Tiger’s actions were only disgusting because he was married and had the kids. If that’s the lifestyle he wanted, he never should’ve started a family and put on the front of Mr. Dad. I said I could go back to being a fan but he would have to show me some serious humility and that he was a changed man. His demeanor would need to be entirely different. No more swearing tirades and throwing golf clubs on the course. No more cookie-cutter answers with the media. He would need to show some transparency, prove to me he has a heart.
I’m a bit ashamed this whole story affected me the way it did, as I’m now a 25-year-old man. I never wanted to be a fanboy, but it sort of worked out that I grew up with Tiger and felt his life was a model for success in every way imaginable. That model was a facade and I took it hook, line and sinker.
I look at it now as a crisis of faith. Who can I really trust? I’m not much a religious man, but I think Tiger speaks to the dangers of false idols and hero worship. Here forth, he’ll just be a golfer for me. He never should’ve been more in the first place.
Note: If anyone wants to throw together a montage with clips from Tiger’s apology tomorrow, I’ve got the perfect song:
So, what do you expect from Tiger’s apology tomorrow? Can you ever be a fan again?
UPDATE: Text of an alleged Tiger Woods’ apology has been leaked, but deemed false. You can read it here. I’m not going to lie – I would’ve gagged at the God-heavy finish. Tiger hasn’t been known to speak of his religious beliefs, so this would seem fake.