The League

THE QUESTION

Why do apologies matter?

From Tiger Woods to Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick, why is the mea culpa a necessary remedy beyond on-field performance?

Posted by Matt Brooks on February 19, 2010 6:00 AM
FEATURED COMMENTS

nosuchluck: It is oh so comical that in this day and age of the instant photo/video, there are still the idiots out there who think they can get away wi...

Here2day: The problem I have is that it seems that Tiger Woods is using sex as some kind of conquest over white women, because he obvious has no taste...

FromGeorgia: After relentless demands from the media for a statement, Tiger Woods delivered one that was controlled an unemotional. So? I did not anticip...

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ALL COMMENTS (25)
ozpunk Author Profile Page :

Public apologies are as American as public infidelities, so they kinda go hand in hand. Personally, I think they thend to be half-hearted, cajoling and disparaging to the common intellect. But, the public can't be denied a good show, so I guess they are just an inseparable part of our body politic.

juribund Author Profile Page :

What a great display of hipocrisy not coming from Tiger Woods but from those who seem to enjoy criticizing him for being unfaithful to his wife. So what? That is a personal matter and I think he did not have to apologize to the public at large. Those envious people who are unable to beat him in the golf course are trying to knock him down on the failings of his personal life. The real truth is that he is the GREATEST GOLFER OF ALL TIMES. Let's put aside our envy, puritanism and petty attitude. My admiration, respect and praise to the sportman. As far as his infidelity is concerned, that is not a matter for me to judge. Full stop!!!!!

ClandestineBlaze Author Profile Page :

We are conditioned to apologize for our actions, even if we do not mean it. It starts with childhood. How many times have you seen a child do something rude or mean to another person, and the parent of that child forces him or her to apologize? They mutter a forced "I'm sorry" and it's done with.

So insulated we are by our own arrogance, that we rarely take the time to see the consequences of our own actions, until it hurts us. We don't see how it hurts others, and when we're hurt by other people's actions, we don't connect the dots and learn from the experience. Our "what have I done?" moment only comes when backlash ensues. In this case, endorsements being cut.

Those that are somehow hurt by the actions of the aggressor supposedly take great pleasure in seeing the other person apologize. But here's the catch -- how are we, the public, hurt by the actions of athletes ? I suppose our false impressions of them are burst; we keep seeing these athletes as invincible, shiny, happy people in product advertisements. We go out and purchase those consumer goods. Then news breaks out that the athlete beats their spouse and likes to shoot heroin.

It's all silly. Public apologies do not matter, and we the public really shouldn't care what happens behind closed doors. Nobody is perfect.

drray Author Profile Page :

We need Miss Manners back. We will have to consult her, or her books, or her successors to be clear on the issue, but as I recall apologies do matter, because,
1. apology, as a category of confession, may be good for the confessor. It may relieve the confessor of some of his or her feeling of guilt, if he or she has any, by signaling an deliberate end to the transgression, as in I'm sorry, I won't do that any more.
2. It may serve to repair some of the damage done to a relationship by affording the victim occasion to express terms for accommodation and compensation, as in I'm sorry, what can I do.
3. It may actually enable salvage of a valuable relationship, by evoking the sympathy of the one offended, as in I didn't mean to, or can you forgive me.
Like I said, we need Miss Manners back. In particular I can't think of a reason for a public apology other than the fact of a public embarrassment or public humiliation. What are valid criteria for forgiveness? Are some things unforgivable. I'm sure there are other issues to which I am, unfortunately insensitive. Finally, we should be clear that the point of good manners is not to establish justice. Manners promote social commerce, which is little enough, and that's all.

fisher1 Author Profile Page :

The idea that athletes should be examples of rectitude for the rest of society is absurd. Religious figures should be held to the standards they preach and politicians too because they represent us. But athletes? They should be judged solely by their actions on the playing field. If my daughter wants to play tennis, I'll say study Billie Jean King's game. Her personal life is not relevant. Criminal activities of course are the exception as in the Michael Vick case.
But your ordinary human failings? Let's stop being so self-righteous. Priggishness is bad enough but we can also detect a whiff of class prejudice here. Apparently Tiger is to be condemned because he had affairs with "cocktail waitresses" instead of the likes of Katie Couric or the Speaker of the House. Quantity seems to be an issue too - one Playboy centerfold might have been tolerated but a string of affairs? At what number do the bluenoses draw the line? Apparently Tiger still has a long way to go to catch up with Wilt Chamberlain who openly boasted his conquests numbered two or three a day.
Athletes, geniuses and journeymen alike, have been proving they are human since the dawn of time. Tiger,get in line behind the Great Bambino who evidently did everything you've been accused of and more. He's certainly not the first to be accused of infidelity and promiscuity; get in line behind Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali and Kobe Bryant. I was shocked when i heard that Martin Luther King occasionally strayed but not when I learned of Tiger's lapses. He should have never staged that robotic public apology. That was bad advice. The only persons he needed to apologize to - and that privately - were his wife and family. Leave us and the ravenous press out of it.

tarquinis1 Author Profile Page :

Apology not accepted, unless you care to accept the apology of Bernie Madof in the same way.

Here is the deal. No surrender on this creep. Why?

He totally betrayed his wife and children for the sake of predatory sexual gratification. Not any sincere affair of the heart, merely parasitic and narcissistic lust with the many who perhaps hoped to enter the limelight of vast wealth and celebrity in his carnival of lust.

But you know what? I don't care a rotten fig about that. It's none of my business. For his wife it may be, but none of mine. Its entirely likely that most of the vastly wealthy professional jocks on the road do the just the same. It seems everyone just loves to focus on the personality issues (was his apology sincere or not, was he sorry just because he got caught?) but they are missing the forest for the trees.

Here is what is different about the Tiger Woods situation; he professionally marketed himself to a worldwide audience as much more that a very talented athlete but as a decent man, a family man who loved his wife and children, seeing into the future in his visionary gaze. He defrauded me too, as I believed the lie. He has made literally hundreds of millions on endorsements based entirely on a fraud. Just how is this fundamentally different from Bernie Madof? He did much the same until his fraud was exposed. There is no excuse for him, and there is no excuse for Tiger in exactly the same way. Professionally marketed frauds, for the sake of a literal ocean of financial reward. And that is fundamentally what is wrong with our whole economy and nation today. I say it is not forgivable. It is an economic crime.

So, no surrender on this one. The big picture is this episode is less about human frailty of the heart, which should be forgiven as we all fall short of the mark, than economic vampirism on a scale that boggles the mind. And he knew it was a vast lie all along.

pjohn2 Author Profile Page :

They do if they are honest and unscripted. Tiger's was heavily scripted and embellished, especially the part about helping millions of kids.
The only part that hit home was then plea to leave his wife and children alone, everything else smacked of "forgive me and let me earn more money".
He could have had an animated character read the lines.
He doesn't owe the public an apology so what was the point?

IIntgrty Author Profile Page :

He misbehaves, loses his status, apologizes to me? It's misguided.
It's HIS fall from grace--it really does not affect me. He is in complete charge of his own behavior, as a responsible adult knows. It makes me wonder if he can reclaim himself or whether he expects the population at large to redeem him. It just does not work that way.

IIntgrty Author Profile Page :

He misbehaves, loses his status, apologizes to me? It's misguided.
It's HIS fall from grace--it really does not affect me. He is in complete charge of his own behavior, as a responsible adult knows. It makes me wonder if he can reclaim himself or whether he expects the population at large to redeem him. It just does not work that way.

B2O2 Author Profile Page :

That's THIRTEEN (count 'em) pieces in the Post during the past 24 hours on this completely irrelevant tabloid story. Gosh, where's the coverage on the latest "Brangelina" breakup rumor... or Britney Speers passing gas? If you're going to convert your paper into a tabloid, well, just do it (as Mr. Woods' former sponsorship likes to say).

Meanwhile, the Post has not had ONE PIECE on the story that has captivated Europe for the past few weeks: the Tony Blair inquiry about lies the public was told to get them to support OUR invasion of Iraq! WHERE is the coverage on this? Crickets and heads in sand, that's all Americans get on it. Why?

The answer is twofold. The first is that they were so complicit in this crime, from declining to comment on the preposterous campaign of association our president engaged in until he convinced 70% of America that Saddam Hussein had attacked us on 9/11, to relegating every doubting word about the "WMD scare" to page 16, to editorialists outright mocking the experts like Scott Ritter who were trying to tell us it was all lies. So the media is ashamed to remind us what a horrible, falling-face-down job they did on this topic.

The other reason is that if they covered the story of another nation actually holding its leaders accountable for crimes like this, WE MIGHT GET THE IDEA WE SHOULD DO IT TOO. That would discourage future pointless wars for corporate profits like the one that is now making Hunt Oil, Halliburton/KBR, and other friends of the last administration rich. But more importantly, WAR IS GREAT FOR VIEWERSHIP. There is nothing better for business - whether you are a defense contractor or a news outlet - than armed, bloody conflict. No way is the media going to kill that golden goose with a little bit of honest coverage.

I spit on our news media today. I don't care about Tiger Woods. I want a decent, moral, honest news media. YOU AREN'T IT.

A million deaths. A billion new enemies for America. A trillion dollars in debt. And you are all over the story of some golfer who for some reason thinks he owes me an apology. Sorry, I'm not that codependent.

Meanwhile, here's the latest on a much bigger story, which the Post is apparently oblivious to.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8524315.stm

B2O2 Author Profile Page :

That's THIRTEEN (count 'em) pieces in the Post during the past 24 hours on this completely irrelevant tabloid story. Gosh, where's the coverage on the latest "Brangelina" breakup rumor... or Britney Speers passing gas? If you're going to convert your paper into a tabloid, well, just do it (as Mr. Woods' former sponsorship likes to say).

Meanwhile, the Post has not had ONE PIECE on the story that has captivated Europe for the past few weeks: the Tony Blair inquiry about lies the public was told to get them to support OUR invasion of Iraq! WHERE is the coverage on this? Crickets and heads in sand, that's all Americans get on it.

A million deaths. A billion new enemies for America. A trillion dollars in debt. And you are all over the story of some golfer who for some reason thinks he owes me an apology. Sorry, I'm not that codependent.

In any case, here's the latest on a much bigger story, which the Post is apparently oblivious to.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8524315.stm

3101crites Author Profile Page :

I am dismayed at the judgmentalism, cynicism and lack of compassion of the sports pundits and others in response to Tiger Woods' apology. Clearly they are the stones thrown by those who have not sinned. Others have condemmed him for a public apology. Because of the press, his transgression was public and it was appropriate, in my opinion, to address the public. His public humiliation must have been, and continues to be, profound. I understand, accept and appreciate the pain he has experienced and his honesty in addressing the disappointment that he has caused others. I wish him well and send him my prayers for healing and self forgiveness.

KraftPaper Author Profile Page :

Apologies matter because it's corporate money involved. Sponsors spend millions a year to promote their apparel, cars, antiperspirant, food and drink habits and no one wants to kill the golden goose. Secondly there are lawyers who make millions suing celebrities who breach contract. And third there are teams of PR people who spend millions campaigning like these stories of mea culpa in order to maintain and improve the image of success. And behind all this are shareholders, bankers, pension funds, investors and brokers who are willing to spend more money than you and I can count to ensure the success of these celebrities. Image is everything in entertainment. Whether the Dallas football stadium or the NY Yankees ticker tape parade, Lebron James, Kobe or Wade, Federer or Tiger it's all money. Money money money. Not apologies. We're not getting I'm sorry because they feel bad. It's the law of capitalism.

Tomasa Author Profile Page :

He apologized for the ones who think they need to hear the apology. This was something very private between him and his wife. Obiously he needs help and I am glad he is getting it. Please let him be on his way of recovery.

Tomasa Author Profile Page :

He apologized for the ones who think they need to hear the apology. This was something very private between him and his wife. Obiously he needs help and I am glad he is getting it. Please let him be on his way of recovery.

jadams4 Author Profile Page :

Public figures earn their income from the public, based on the images they present to the public. Tiger Woods presented himself as a wholesome, committed family man. He lied to the public about who he is. Therefore, he owes the public an apology for that lie. Tiger's lie to the public is not a private matter between him & his wife. It is money earned through Tiger's public deception which makes him wealthy. Ditto for Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant & others in the Hall of Shame.

battleground51 Author Profile Page :

FAKE! FAKE! SHAM!!

Phoney, Hollywood, plastic-fantastic people with their morality meters on absolute ZERO putting on more public displays of remorse for the salvation of their own careers and public image.

These people are not real. They are golden idols of the fools that need idols to give their miserable, little lives some meaning.

Tiger Woods and his celebrity crowd could fall off the face of the earth and the earth would be a better place for it.

That's all I've got to say about that.

ripvanwinkleincollege Author Profile Page :

The Michael Vick and Tiger Woods situations are so completely different that it is difficult to compare the apologies. Vick engaged in immoral conduct which was also illegal as well as being cruel to helpless animals. Woods engaged in immoral conduct which, while over the top, was not illegal or even cruel. Any woman married to an attractive male celebrity knows that women are going to go after their man in all kinds of ways. It's part of the territory, like postmen/women being chased by dogs or pizza delivery people getting stiffed on tips. Sooner or later it's probably going to happen. Woods need not have made any public apology unless he sought to play golf again or placate his corporate sponsors. Vick, on the other hand, really had something to publicly apologize for, as a high profile celebrity and role model engaged in the kind of behavior he did, even if he never returned to the NFL. Two completely different situations.

ripvanwinkleincollege Author Profile Page :

The Michael Vick and Tiger Woods situations are so completely different that it is difficult to compare the apologies. Vick engaged in immoral conduct which was also illegal as well as being cruel to helpless animals. Woods engaged in immoral conduct which, while over the top, was not illegal or even cruel. Any woman married to an attractive male celebrity knows that women are going to go after their man in all kinds of ways. It's part of the territory, like postmen/women being chased by dogs or pizza delivery people getting stiffed on tips. Sooner or later it's probably going to happen. Woods need not have made any public apology unless he sought to play golf again or placate his corporate sponsors. Vick, on the other hand, really had something to publicly apologize for, as a high profile celebrity and role model engaged in the kind of behavior he did, even if he never returned to the NFL. Two completely different situations.

prevere Author Profile Page :

To Those Who Believe This Is An Important Issue:

Being immersed in the lives and affairs of others is psychologically quite telling. It speaks of leading a life which is less than full or even downright unrewarding. It is a sign of personal failure. "Fans" of so-called "sports", but which are actually just another form of big businesses, lose all sense of perspective and proportion when they suspend their belief systems and embark on their insignificant voyages of win-at-all-costs mania or depressive losses-to-be-revenged.

When sports was truly an amateur competition, it had value to our culture, to our society and to our species. It honed our survival skills, our mental accuity and tenacity. It taught us how to compete against bigger, faster and stronger adversaries. But once it was capitalized into a big profit-making enterprise, it lost all of those founding values and became a mindless and purposeless treasure hunt for endorsements, $2000 seats in a stadium and multi-million dollar advertisers.

I declare all who still believe in such inanities, non compos mentis. You aren't thinking clearly. Your value judgments are faulty and irrational. You need to grow up and face the fact that these over-paid doofuses who demand multi-million dollar salaries are simply parasitizing you by feeding you a line of BS. And you, dear cash-strapped fan, are shelling out good, hard-earned money for the chance of a brief dose of senseless euphoria and undeserved adulation.

Take a cool, studied look at yourselves and ask whether you would rather have the money you throw away on such tripe to do some good for you and your families or friends. Why not donate it to help find a real and long-lasting cure for cancer, substance addiction or some other such diseases? Perhaps endow a school for education or a children's hospital to save young lives? Surely you could do better than the wasteful flushing of hard-earned money down the corporate toilets of "professional athletics". And in the process send a message to these prima donnas that their services are no longer needed. And their influences on our young, impressionable children as role models teaching them the worst of human values is also unacceptable. Give your kids a fighting chance to find the best values and role models, not the worst.

kentigereyes Author Profile Page :

These jerks are only "sorry" that they got caught. Very similar to the scumbag politicians that have been caught. Time to pick better heroes(and leaders)in the United States of Arrogance. TFL, Ken

murray1 Author Profile Page :

TW ought to be congratulated for his sexual prowess and stamina. not too many of us can boast of such an achievement. he will be resurected because he creates large profits for those he works for. that is the real news!

nosuchluck Author Profile Page :

It is oh so comical that in this day and age of the instant photo/video, there are still the idiots out there who think they can get away with breaking "the rules". Just because you you make a ton of money, does not make you invisible; it actually makes you more visible. And a gold bracelet these days won't keep my dog from talking.

Here2day Author Profile Page :

The problem I have is that it seems that Tiger Woods is using sex as some kind of conquest over white women, because he obvious has no taste for women of his own race. . . . . . . This just doesn't pass the sniff test.

FromGeorgia Author Profile Page :

After relentless demands from the media for a statement, Tiger Woods delivered one that was controlled an unemotional. So? I did not anticipate warmth and humility from a person who doesn't show those traits on a good day, and I wouldn't expect a stellar performance from anyone whose life has come crashing down around him. I can't begin to imagine facing TV cameras and the entire world to confess my sins. Give him time and space to put the shattered pieces of his life back together. In the meanwhile, think about this culture that pays millions of dollars to make athletes look superhuman.

 
 
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