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Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
Special to AC360°
Tiger Woods announced yesterday that he will issue an apology at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on Friday at 11 a.m. ET. All we know is that the apology will last around five minutes and that he will not respond to any questions from the media. Ever since the announcement, the blogosphere has been obsessed with whether we have a right to know what happened since Woods drove his SUV into a tree last November, took a leave of absence from professional golf, and apparently checked into a rehabilitation facility that treats sexual addiction.
Does the public have a right to know how Woods conducts his private life?
It doesn’t matter, and I’ll tell you why. Whether or not we are entitled to know about the demons that plague Woods, the best golfer in the world should use his worldwide platform to be a force for good and help others who are wrestling with the same problems he is.
In other words, Tiger Woods should have an open and honest discussion with the media tomorrow, even if the public does not have a right to this information.
Celebrities like Woods, whose every move is scrutinized by millions of people, have an opportunity that the rest of us never will—to speak to an attentive, international audience. Athletes, R&B artists, and movie stars may not think of themselves as role models, but rightly or wrongly, a lot of folks do regard them this way. Adoring fans take the words and actions of their idols to heart.
Consider how Andre Agassi’s recent confession, Open, about his struggles as a crystal meth addict, have encouraged other addicts to seek help. Even Sarah Palin’s minions have to admire how Katie Couric used a personal tragedy—the loss of her husband to colon cancer—and her position as a Today Show anchor to educate the public about the value of colonoscopies. One can only imagine how many lives she saved by doing this. And countless readers of Ozzy Osbourne’s new memoir, I Am Ozzy, will say to themselves, “Hey, Ozzy cleaned himself up; I can too.”
Tomorrow morning, much of the world will be listening to what Tiger Woods has to say about his terrible troubles and how he has damaged not just himself but many of the people he cares about. Woods can use this global stage to speak from the heart and explain how he has been working to turn things around. In so doing, he would inspire fans in every corner to make a positive change in their lives.
Or Woods can do what too many in his position do: say a few meaningless words and be done with it.
The choice is up to him. I hope he makes the right choice.
Editor's Note: Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D. is the public speaker and author known as The Ethics Guy. He is the Ethics columnist for BusinessWeek online. His latest book, 'Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught?' (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, 2009), shows tweens and teens how to make ethical decisions—and why they should care. For more, visit The Ethics Guy.com.
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