For most of his adult life, Tiger Woods has held the national media in the palm of his hand. He has dictated when he’ll talk, who he’ll talk to, and what he’ll discuss. Alongside Michael Jordan, it’s well known that Woods micromanages his image more than any athlete or celebrity in history.
That control, of course, vanished in November with Woods’ countless infidelity scandals. And frankly, that control was always something of an illusion anyway. You can’t really control what people will think of you, and the more you strain to do so, the more people will resist.
We live in era of media manipulation. People know when you’re putting on a show now. They know the celebrity they see doing a fluff interview with Letterman isn’t really that way behind closed doors. They know there’s plenty behind the façade, and assume some of it is unpleasant. I know I do.
You would think Woods, throughout this ordeal, would have learned that. But it’s pretty clear, given the rules for his press conference on Friday, that he’s trying harder than ever to spin his image. I mean, seriously: Why do you hold a press conference, invite reporters, but tell them in advance you won’t answer any questions? Why are they there then? Why not just release a written or video statement?
Well, there’s a very good reason why, at least in Woods’ head. By inviting the media to attend his presser, but hushing them up, it’s clear that Woods is trying to reassert his dominance over the media that has turned against him. It’s also clear that, by apologizing (something he doesn’t really need to do), Woods likely intends to make this his final statement on his personal life.
If Woods decides to take Friday to announce his return to golf (and this whole thing is pointless if he doesn’t do that), you can bet that he will return to golf intent on controlling the media the same way he did before all this hit the fan. If he plays in the Masters, he’ll likely only answer questions about golf (as he did before), and happily ignore anything outside of that scope. Certain media figures will be all too happy to assist him in the whitewashing, given what Woods means to golf’s ratings and profitability.
It’s Woods right to try and do this, of course. He owes you and me no detailed explanation of what he did. But part of the reason Woods got into this mess was because he was someone who always believed the laws of public scrutiny never applied to him.
Remember, this is a guy who grew up with his father publicly declaring, “The world will be a better place to live in by virtue of his existence and his presence. I acknowledge only a small part in that I know that I was personally selected by God himself to nurture this young man and bring him to the point where he can make a contribution to humanity.