Off To A Bad Start: Tiger’s First Public Appearance

We’ll see what Tiger Woods has to say for himself tomorrow, but the signs leading up to his first public appearance tomorrow do not bode well.

From a social media perspective, the transparency, humility and sense of atonement he needs to get right with a once adoring public and his wife seem to be conspicuously absent.

Cute nickname aside, Tiger was never a warm, empathetic public figure.His interviews were always controlled and mechanical, and his on-course behavior was cold bordering on hostile. Yes, he’s a very focused, fierce competitor, but that doesn’t mean that he has to behave badly.

Arnold Palmer was a fierce competitor, but his outgoing personality and at least the appearance of being open and accessible formed a strong foundation for Arnie’s Army.Tiger, on the other hand, curses, throws clubs, and never did anything to engage his fans. Lance Armstrong has his demons, but regularly Tweets, engages his fan base and strives to leverage his personal fame and fortune for the public good.

In addition to the many calls for public humility – more a matter of style and tone, Tiger needs to make some very big gestures if he wants to set his image back on the right track.Here’s a guy who would still be incredibly rich – probably in a matter of months – if he lost everything he had to this point.Superb athlete that he is, his winnings from the PGA Tour in 2010 alone would likely make him a millionaire many times over once again.

He’s already established a charitable entity, this Tiger Woods Foundation, dedicated to providing grants and scholarships to young people, is indeed a great work. Now he needs to do more.

The controlled appearance tomorrow – limited to personally selected, invited guests, with no questions allowed from the press, is an inauspicious beginning.While he may very well come clean – expect him to announce his successful sex-addiction therapy, mea culpas for his cheating and apologies to his wife and public, and possibly finding God – just may not seem entirely pure.The medium is the message, and he is starting with the wrong medium.

The fact that he scheduled this appearance in the middle of an Accenture sponsored tournament – a company that severed ties with him after his indiscretions – cannot be an accident. It seems mean spirited, and attempt to upstage his onetime benefactor, and very “me” oriented.

This isn’t about him. It’s about what he did and the public and private trusts he betrayed.Ultimately, this type of controlled outreach will not serve him well.

I would like to see Tiger start by talking about his lapses and his struggles to set himself on a better path with personal appearances and in online blogs and Tweets. If he has completed a 12-Step program, with a “one day at a time mantra,” it would be nice to know what he is doing on a day to day basis to improve himself and repair his image.

He should also make a very grand gesture, say a donation of $25 million or more to a pro-social cause related to women. This could be part of his current Foundation – a new and distinct effort to help girls and young women with self-esteem so they would never be tempted to become one of his or someone else’s victim, or, something entirely new, such as help for abused women.

His mistresses were certainly using him to become rich and famous, or simply to attach themselves to one of the world’s most famous people for their own self-aggrandizement in one way or another. But he was the biggest user. With all the discipline and hard work he exercised to achieve his athletic dominance, his behavior as a human being was selfish and crass.

If I were an advertiser – or a woman he might court seriously after a possible divorce – I’d stay far away until I saw a very tangible sense of atonement, a sharp transformation in attitude and very real changes in behavior.

The likes of Bill Clinton and even Richard Nixon proves that there is redemption after a fall.Let’s hope Tiger will eventually do the right thing for himself, his fans and his family.

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