Apology Scorecard

We all know Tiger Woods came out of seclusion for a few moments on Friday morning to apologize to the world (and prove that he’s capable of taking over television on days other than Sundays). Some of us watched it, and then some of us followed watching it by watching it again so we could better form opinions of what it meant, and whether or not he was sincere.

Then we (read: I) took to reading/viewing the opinions of others over the next few days, trying to see if everyone saw Tiger’s 15 minutes the way we saw them. Of course, they didn’t. A million people can see the same thing a million different ways.

For some reason (probably because I want to see him swing a golf club soon and pump his fist), I saw sincerity. Many others, full of skepticism, saw orchestration and a robotic-like performance from a well-oiled machine who was groomed to look nervous and stumble over his words.

Then I came across this. It’s the best piece I’ve read on Tiger’s 15-minute, Friday-morning peek-a-boo. It scanned the spectrum on the apology and got me thinking.

Short of hooking someone up to a lie-detector, how do you really judge an apology? Not just an apology broadcast to much of the free world (These are a dime a dozen at this point. see: Mayer, John), but even one that only your ears hear? How do you know whether or not to trust the words, “I’m sorry” when they’re uttered, by anyone?

“And then, like Olympic judges, we are left to rate his performance. On sincerity: 9.1. On emotion: 9.3. On artistic inerpretation: 9.0. His technical score: 8.7. Oh, the Spanish judge really scored him low on that one.” ~ Posnanski

That’s about what it feels like, judging a figure skating competition the first time you watch it. That’s how I feel whenever I’m receiving any apology. I’m always looking for sincere signs of sincerity (whatever that means). But I’m not sure what to believe. Hell, I’m often just in shock that someone is even apologizing to me because I find it rare that people own up to their screw-ups in the moment when they’re confronted about their wrongdoings.

Though I hate apologizing, I don’t have a problem with it. But I rarely show much emotion when I apologize, even if I do care a lot. I often just want out of that moment. No matter how minute or troubling it is, it always seems like someone is towering over you when they’re searching out an apology.

So I’m sure I don’t come across as sincere too often, though, I almost always mean it. But that easily could be Tiger, just uncomfortable knowing that the world has him and his words, even as he’s reading them, in a Petri dish. At least his wife understands that he can’t prove his words true in that light or any other.

Elin told Tiger that his “real apology will not come in the form of words,” as Tiger said on Friday early in his apology. That was the only part of that 15 minutes that matter to me. I suppose the hereafter is the only part of any apology that really matters, the only part of one you can accurately score.

6 responses to “Apology Scorecard

  1. I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t watch his apology and didn’t care what he said. I watched them loop certain segments of it over and over again all Friday evening, and I listened to some of it; but one thing someone said really stuck with me. Someone made the comment that he should have just went on ESPN spoke his piece and left it at that….but instead he handled it like he was a politician or someone in public office with a scandal uncovered, and it was broadcast all over the news. Although Tiger is a huge name in sports he’s not the first, nor will he be the last athlete to cheat on his wife with a harem of women…The only other athlete that spoke this openly of his sins was Kobe and that was only because a rape case followed his apology. Like I said Friday, his apology was unnecessary and seemed very much insincere. He’s not going to save endorsements because the ones who were going to leave him already left, the ones who are sticking by him are still here. I am moving on from this, seriously, and hopefully everyone else will too…

  2. I’m always skeptical of verbal apologies. I feel like it’s too easy to just say “I’m sorry” (so, in turn, I don’t understand folks who struggle). I’m checking for what you do after you say “I’m sorry” to ascertain whether or not it was genuine. Actions, people… actions…

    Something my mom told me when I was younger sticks with me: “An apology is more than words. If you’re really sorry, you won’t do it again.” And that’s been my measuring stick both for mysel fand for others.

    The verbal part is important, but is meaningless without actions to back it up.

    • @ASmith

      “An apology is more than words. If you’re really sorry, you won’t do it again.”


      This is truth….. and with that said I have no doubt that Tiger will be back to bangin’ out Beckys in no time….

  3. there’s remorse and repentance. repentance causes you to change your ways, not out of deep regret, but understanding the gravity of what your actions produced. remorese is being sorry you got caught. you can identify a tree by its fruit. i’ll wait to see if mr. woods truly has repented and by the fruit of his actions.

  4. I agree with everyone above that true apology comes in the form of action and not necessarily words. When you truly are sincere you are compelled to TRY to change your ways.

    I intentionally put try, because repeating an action, or relapsing, is not always a sign of insincerity. When you are truly addicted to something it may take several relapses before you kick the habit. That’s just the nature of addiction.

  5. I didn”t see the apology or even consider that one. The apology should be in the form of actions which his has proven he is not sorry. If he was he would really work on his family and care less about the sport that allowed him to carryon the way he has.

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