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Tiger Woods Press Conference: Do You Believe Him?

tiger woods statementOver the past 48 hours, the Internet has been buzzing because of the announcement of Tiger Woods’ first public appearance since his infamous November 27th accident. All of the major sports, news, and entertainment publications have written about it. Yesterday #tigershouldsay was trending on Twitter (e.g. #tigershouldsay blame it on Nike, they told me to just do it), and this morning, “Tiger Woods” was a trending topic.

Many have questioned the timing and format of Woods’ appearance. Tiger chose to make his statement during the middle of the WSG-Accenture (Accenture being a previous Woods sponsor) Match Play Championship. Further, he opened the appearance up to only a small group of family and friends, and several members of the media. Oh, and no questions.

Former U.S. Open and British Open champion Ernie Els said it was “selfish,” continuing that “Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday.” Accenture came out and said that Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, had given the company a heads up and they had no problem with the timing of the statement. Irish golfer Rory McIlroy said, “He’s got to come out at some point. I suppose he might want to get something back against the sponsor that dropped him. No, I don’t know. It just went on for so long. I’m sick of hearing about it. And I’m just looking forward to when he’s getting back on the golf course.” (Amen!)

The point is that Tiger had to come out at some point, and no matter when it was, or how he did it, he was going to be criticized. Tiger will be under a microscope for the foreseeable future. By cheating on his wife and getting caught, Tiger chose this for himself. But let’s get to the point: What did Tiger Woods say?

tiger woods statement 02Tiger’s Statement

I felt that Tiger handled the appearance well. He was slow and deliberate in delivering his message. His tone was somber, he was emotional and a bit nervous, and I truly felt he was being honest. Initially, Tiger said he was sorry, that his actions were irresponsible and selfish. He went on to say, “I’ve let you down,” speaking to his small audience of friends and family, “I’ve let my fans down.”

What was powerful to me was that Tiger made it a point to talk about the fact that his wife, Elin, never physically attacked him on the night of his accident. He said there had never been any domestic violence in their relationship, and that Elin deserved compliments for her attitude throughout the last several months, not blame. Tiger went on to talk about the constant media presence surrounding his wife and children, and pleaded for the press to “leave them alone.” He spoke about how he’d always tried to keep his family out of the public eye, for their own comfort and safety. Most importantly, Tiger said, “it’s not their fault,” they should not have to be followed and hassled by the media because of his mistakes.

Another powerful moment came when Tiger admitted to feeling entitled because of his money and fame, and said “it’s hard to admit needing help, but I do.” He admitted to being in therapy, and having a long way to go. Tiger said he would continue to receive therapy, because that’s how people change, by admitting mistakes and accepting assistance. He said he would leave tomorrow for more therapy (the reason for the timing of his appearance), and thanked Accenture and the players for understanding why he decided to speak today, of all days.

And the million dollar question, when will Tiger return to golf? That remains to be seen. He plans on returning to golf, but not sure when. He said, “I don’t doubt it will be this year,” and continued, “but when I do return, I need to be more respectful.”

Thoughts

In the end, I thought Tiger did a good job. Some people I was watching with said he was too robotic. They said he focused too much on the past and not enough on the future. They asked why he waited so long to make “this” statement. In my opinion, people will be critical no matter what, and Tiger knows it. As I said, it’s just something he’s going to have to deal with.

What do you think? Was Woods’ statement exactly what you expected? Should Woods’ have opened up his appearance to more reporters, and taken questions? Do you still have a problem with the timing of the appearance? Let’s discuss in the comment section below. There’s a lot to talk about!

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12 Responses to Tiger Woods Press Conference: Do You Believe Him?

  1. Gail Sideman February 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    This was a staged, scripted event that had to take place. Tiger had to do it as a step back into professional golf, whenever that might be.

    He owes the rest of us no explanation about his personal life.

    I liked that his speechwriters included, and that Tiger agreed to speak the words “entitlement” and “I’m sorry” in describing why he did for what he did. I also like that he said that he brought on his troubles, personally and professionally, himself.

    As a PR specialist, however, this statement was in a controlled setting. It’s the way Tiger has always conducted his life, and continuing in this manner sniffs of continued elitism. He needs to shed that for people, including his coveted sponsors, to believe in him in the future.

    The fact is that the Professional Golf Association needs Tiger more than Tiger needs it – all you have to do is look at tournament television ratings with and without him. With that in mind, Tiger may well get the pass he wants to continue doing things his own way. Again, as a PR person, I think if he loves the game and his legacy in it, there are several things he can do in the future to ensure that it’s all good.

  2. Sam Taggart February 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Gail, thanks for the comment! Agreed, this was a necessary event, it had to take place. Very scripted, very deliberate.

    I agree about your point that it was in a controlled setting, consistent with the way Tiger has always handled his life. And Tiger does need to shed that aspect of his personality.

    In my opinion, this was a good first step, and I don’t think anyone would or should expect _any_ athlete to handle this situation any differently than Tiger did. Had he allowed questions or a larger audience, it would have been chaos. Tiger was entitled to be in control of his first appearance back. How he chooses to move forward in the future is a different story.

  3. Kimberly Winnington February 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Tiger Woods’ statement was exactly what it needed to be, but it would be better if it was less mechanical and more real.

  4. Sam Taggart February 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Kimberly, I think it was so mechanical and forced because he was 1. nervous, but also 2. deliberate and intentional with what he was saying. I think he wanted to stay to the script and not speak off of emotion or slip up.

  5. Amanda Rykoff February 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    This may sound overly cynical, but my take was, “I messed up. I got caught. And now I need to read these words.” The only thing I feel he’s sorry for is getting caught. And for the impact on his family. That did seem sincere.

    The content of the statement on paper wasn’t terrible, but his delivery was far too stiff, robotic and unemotional. The only time he showed any emotion was in criticizing the press.

    I love watching Tiger compete on the field, not speak in public.

    Gail: I agree that having this take place in such a controlled environment also detracted from its impact. Like everything in his life, it was protected from the outside world.

  6. Sam Taggart February 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Amanda, you’re certainly right, Tiger does not often show emotion, and today was no exception. He got fired up, for good reason, about the media following his family around. That’s something, right?

    My question is, was today really the time and place to break away from the mold, the controlled environment that Tiger always demands? I don’t think so. Hopefully, in the future, he will open up a bit more.

    Tiger is who he is, and I don’t think he expects everyone to love him. Will be interesting to see how he handles future appearances, and then his return to golf, whenever that may be.

  7. Jessica Shultzaberger February 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    I thought the press conference went well. It was perfect timing for me since I am working on a project for class on how the internet affected Tiger’s scandal. As a matter of fact, I will probably show off your blog in my presentation.

    Anyway, I thought the statement was as expected. The two items that stood out for me was his spiritual revalations about reconnecting with his buddist faith. I bet Buddism is now a top Google search for the day besides Tiger.

    The other part of his statement not expected but I would like to commend him on is when he said something about he is just like everyone else and should be subject to the same rules as everyone else. I believe money and fame makes people forget they are all people just like us.(I hope I don’t forget that when I become famous).

    Jess

  8. Wesley Mallette February 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    Sam, great post! Agree with you across the board.

    Gail, once again, I echo your sentiments!

    As a crisis and strategic PR pro, there are a few things I would have done differently, but overall, I agree, Tiger did a good job owning it all and not pointing fingers.

    He owned the fact that he felt because of money, fame and celebrity, “normal rules didn’t apply” and that he was entitled because he had worked hard all his life and didn’t have to go far to find the trappings of celebrity. This was a huge statement. Rarely, if ever, do we see any superstar athlete, politician, celebrity, high profile financial executive, or other, own it at this level.

    Yes, it is time to move on. Tiger needs to get on with his life and focus on his family and his game. As for the massive media coverage on this issue? Time to remind ourselves that we don’t want to see sports covered like celebrity tabloid journalism.

  9. Christopher Lee February 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    I agree with most of the sentiments above, although I think today might have been the time to break away from the mold. Instead it came off as awkwardly scripted. Thought Tiger had a real chance to speak from the heart, with emotion, etc. As Sam said, hopefully he opens in more in the future, at the very least in terms of speaking for himself instead of a script.

  10. Jason Peck February 20, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    I thought it went on a bit too long. It didn’t surprise me that Tiger mentioned the stuff about wanting the press to leave his family alone…if he could have it his way, that probably would have been the only message he delivered, in my opinion.

    I was actually surprised a bit that he said he did some stupid things and felt he could play by different rules because he was rich/famous. Even though his delivery of these words was a little robotic, that was big for him; he’s such a private person and saying that was a really big step for him in opening up. Sure, he could always reveal more of himself, but I don’t think yesterday would have been the right time to do it.

  11. Sam Taggart February 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Guys, really appreciate all of the comments. It’s what makes writing these posts so much fun! I think we all agree Tiger did a decent job. Obviously, there is always room for criticism.

    Jessica, sounds like perfect timing. Feel free to include this post in your presentation if you want to work it in! Nice points, those were definitely two of his most powerful statements.

    Wesley, thanks for the kind words, and you make excellent points. Owning his mistakes was something I thought he needed to do, so I’m glad he did it.

    Christopher, that may have been his biggest mistake, in that he sounded _very_ scripted. For me, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but yes, would have been something really special if he’d spoken a little more from the heart. I think he was probably very nervous, and very scared. So, again, being deliberate didn’t make me too upset.

    Jason, good points. Was a bit long, and the only time he showed a lot of emotion was when he spoke about having the media leave his family alone. In the end, think it was a positive more than a negative.

  12. rapier52 April 8, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    can't wait for the day when we no longer have to look at that ugly pouting boy.

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