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.