Tiger Woods: PR Grace or Simply a Disgrace?

After working on rehabilitating his personal life, Tiger Woods last month started to rehab his public image too. And, for this skeptical un-fan at least, it’s a good start.

The first step in his off-season PR moves was a Newsweek article, “How I’ve Redefined Victory.” I’m not naive enough to think Tiger wrote much of it himself, but if he signed off on it, I’m well-pleased.

Sure, as Lilit Marcus argues, he could have been a bit more explicit in why exactly he’s redefining his notion of victory — sexual addiction, infidelity, colossal stupidity aren’t exactly admitted. But he does write,

This much is obvious now: my life was out of balance, and my priorities were out of order. I made terrible choices and repeated mistakes. I hurt the people whom I loved the most. And even beyond accepting the consequences and responsibility, there is the ongoing struggle to learn from my failings.

And if the essay is to be believed, learning he is. Actually, after reading the piece I’m more open-minded and even hopeful for Woods. “[My previous self-reliance] made me think that if I was successful in golf, then I was invincible. Now I know that, no matter how tough or strong we are, we all need to rely on others” he writes.

Maybe I’m a sucker. (And yes, I surely am for grace and forgiveness and a fresh start — call me Christian, or call me American since such things are essential to the fabric of both my faith and my country.) But I really feel for the guy, and I wish him the best. He’s right when he says he can never truly repair the damage he’s done. But that doesn’t mean he should stop trying, or he should stop playing golf, or he should stop loving his children.

In a predictably caustic rebuttal of the Wood PR blitz Tim Dahlberg scoffs

“The most miserable year [Woods] could ever imagine is about over. He should be shouting in joy that he’s survived, even if his golf career may be ruined forever.

Except this time it won’t work.

Instead he’s trying to sell himself to the world in the same calculating way he once sold Nike’s golf equipment.

Besides the fact that Dahlberg seems to enjoy wielding blanket unsupported statements to back his depressing thesis as much as Vikings fans, in recent weeks, like to rip on Brett Farve, Dahlberg’s view that Woods public image is irredeemable simply isn’t accurate. Heck, in a strange way, I think Woods’ image has even more cache now, because America loves a tragic hero.

To be honest, I wasn’t much of a Woods fan before the affair++, but now, for some reason and really for the first time, I’d like to see Woods do well. And regarding the PR efforts, I guess I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I wish him luck as he begins to rebuild his image through Twitter and Facebook, TV appearances, and, well, maybe even winning some golf tournaments again.

image by Brandon Ledger

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