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What Tiger Should Say Today

The Hardest Words

BY Danielle Bean

| Posted 2/19/10 at 9:00 AM

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Oh say, have you heard about this guy named Tiger Woods?

Apparently, he used to play some kind of sport and was some kind of popular before he got caught up in some kind of a scandal that the entire world obsessed about for weeks on end after Thanksgiving last year.

Remember that guy?

If you do, it’s not because the world is still obsessed with him. As the cynics predicted, it wasn’t long before we, the fickle public, moved on to juicier gossip and more salacious scandals.

Just as we were putting his story and all of its dirty details behind us, though, Woods has worked his way back onto our computer screens and magazines covers.

Tiger Woods’ defining moment comes today.

I don’t know what the famous golfer will tell the world at his much-anticipated press conference later this morning, but I do know what he should say.

He should apologize. To his wife. To his children. To his fellow athletes. To his fans. To his sponsors. To everyone who ever bought a TW hat and placed it in a child’s birthday bag or Christmas stocking.

But if Woods should happen to give way to the temptation to say more than a simple “sorry,” he will ruin the whole darn thing. Only if he says only “sorry” will he leave people with nothing else to say. They will still talk, of course, but there will officially be nothing more to say.

Here are some fake apologies I hope we won’t hear today.

Fake Apology #1:

“I am sorry if you were offended” or “I am sorry if I did something wrong.”

Translation: I didn’t do anything wrong and am only saying sorry because you are upset and I have to say this in order to get things back how they were.

Try This Instead: I’m sorry.

Fake Apology #2:

“I am sorry but [list extenuating circumstances here].”

Translation: I did some bad stuff but other people did bad stuff too. I am not really at fault. I am a victim.

Try This Instead: I’m sorry.

Fake Apology #3:

“Mistakes were made.”

Translation: Some bad stuff happened here, but I have no idea who might be responsible for it.

Try This Instead: I’m sorry.

I like the Church’s model for apologies. When we receive the sacrament of reconciliation, the Church tells us to examine our conscience, to be be truly sorry, and to confess our sins as we remember them. No ifs, buts or passive voice about it.

It stings a little to say sorry in this way. We choke on these kinds of words. We ache to fill in the silence that hangs in the air after saying a simple “sorry.” But it’s only when we do it right that the healing can begin.

Whatever Tiger Woods does wind up saying at what is sure to be a well-reported press conference today, I hope and I pray this much:

That the words he chooses will be whatever is best for him, for his family, and for the all the rest of us who can’t seem to stop ourselves from watching. And listening. And talking.