Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Tiger Woods apologizes to family, fans… now, let’s move on
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Tiger Woods apologizes to family, fans… now, let’s move on

I’ve avoided the media feeding frenzy over Tiger Woods because it just didn’t seem that big a deal. I was concerned when the first reports of his accident came out and some media outlets reported he was seriously injured, but that turned out to be incorrect. When he was released with minor injuries, I decided it was a minor story. Then the story grew legs — female legs.

Tiger’s life is primarily lived on the golf course. He’ll go down in history as an incredible athlete, maybe the best ever in golf. He’ll also be revered as both the first and greatest African American and Asian American in golf (like Barack Obama, he’s claimed by both communities with equal adoration). His private life makes headlines too, sure. But he doesn’t live in a 24/7 media bubble like, say, Jon and Kate Gosselin (oops, I didn’t mean to ever mention that Fallen Asian American Dude ever again…). Tiger has taken care to keep his private life, well, private.

So it saddened me to see the media circus that exploded over his accident, and the reports of his having an affair. It cheapens his stature as an athlete, and whatever his private screw-ups, they weren’t related to his sport, like Michael Jordan or Pete Rose’s problems with gambling. And he wasn’t smearing his romantic dalliances in the tabloid media’s lenses like that Fallen Asian American Dude, for the sake of an extra 15 minutes of fame. Tiger doesn’t need a mere 15 minutes — his accomplishments will shine for a damned long time.

I was also saddened that he didn’t respond in a very smart way. Some experts started whispering that he’s damaging his mega-profitable brand by not speaking to the police and the media about the accident.

Anyway, Woods just posted an official apology on his website today, and it’s a real apology, not one of those whiny, “I’m being persecuted but I feel bad for my errors” apologies, or the defensive and phony “I’m sorry you were offended” apologies. He gets his shots in at the media coverage, noting the intensity of scrutiny since the accident, and flat-out refutes the notion that violence was involved in the accident.

But ultimately, his post reads like a sincere apology, both to his family (he gives extra props to his wife, Elin), and to his fans. And, he takes care to draw boundaries around his family from the media, for better or worse. But at least this is a very public and seemingly heartfelt statement from the man. Let’s hop it calms the frenzy, so we can all get on with our lives.

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it’s difficult.

I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.