I believe that history will show that Tiger Woods launched his professional political career today, with his well-crafted and publicized press conference. He is no longer the golfer or the celebrity or the superstar. He is the cultural icon who is to society’s stage what a politician used to be to the country.
And like every political leader, today he held a tightly crafted press conference where he entered 90 seconds after the hour, on cue, and spoke to a selected audience in a small room with no questions and answers, with occasional strategic pauses followed by direct addresses beyond the room through the camera to the worldwide audience watching at home, work, restaurants and airports across the land.
He can read, and can give a speech, he can face failure and acknowledge it, he’s got amazing talent and he knows how to underpromise and overdeliver. (“I know I will return to golf one day….I just do not know when that day will be.”)
He will be a future leader in high office of some kind.
He wasn’t kissin’ babies but he apologized to their moms for failing as a role model. He wasn’t speaking from a teleprompter but we read from a prepared text which he had rehearsed well. He apologized at least 20 times in the 13-minute speech, but also took the opportunity to pronounce personal boundaries and clear the record on the points at which he could count on the most empathy (paparazzi stalking his kids, wife and mom).
He also cited his faith: Buddhism. He may likely be the first decidedly non-Christian President we’ll ever have. Whereas our past ones have varied by denomination, Tiger proclaimed that he’s of a different faith. Isn’t it interesting that that was something the conservative right attacked about candidate Obama, but will likely be accepted by the next generation.
“A craving for things outside ourselves causing an unhappy and pointless search for security,” said Mr. Woods, quoting Buddhist teaching. Ah, even adding spiritual depth to the apology speech. Very strong for a future leader.
This wasn’t just a sports story on ESPN. This was CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. This caused a break from daytime programming for every major network. Heck, the President doesn’t even get that kind of coverage unless there’s a war going on.
Nov. 27 was the date of the car accident at his Florida home. Dec. 2 was the date of his admission to “transgressions.” Dec. 11 was the day he announced his “indefinite” break from golf. Accenture dropped him as their spokesperson on Dec 13. Jan 21 was when he checked into a clinic in Mississipi. And February 19, 2010, was the day we saw a future leader of our country step to the stage and show he can lead on television, even in his most trying moment.
I think history may someday show that the car crash was to Tiger’s sordid past what the Watergate break-in was to all of the Nixon White House’s events. The difference, though, is that President Nixon and his team did it while in office. Tiger has done it today, and apologized for it professionally, and has spent 45 days in therapy.
He will be forgiven. And he will be our leader someday.