Friday Rant: What Tiger, Lance and M Te’o Can Learn from Roger Clemens

These athletes highlight our fascination and/or morbid curiosity for a good old-fashioned train wreck. We just can’t look away. Self-proclaimed experts even suggest that our inability to ignore these personal disasters can be interpreted as evidence of our “collective empathy.” Leave it to us –the mob– to concoct a way to flatter ourselves.

Without a doubt, Tiger Woods’ infamous press conference was a huge mistake. Naturally, he paid big money to consultants who advised him to do it. It was based on a wisdom that says, “better to get it out there, take the hit and allow other news to eventually capture our attention…” Well yes, I think that getting things sorted with friends and immediate family who have been impacted by such bad behavior is appropriate. But what I’m saying is, Tiger didn’t owe me, or any of the rest of us, an explanation. I don’t care how much of a public figure he was/is. His infidelities were not any of our business –and he could have kept it that way –without lying to anyone.

Lance? Well, let’s face it. He’s had several opportunities to “come clean,” but he chose not to. Again, I’m not sure who was advising Lance, but we all know that Oprah’s network (OWN) was in desperate need of a coup, and that she relishes the opportunity to broadcast desperate personal conflict. In fact, she has launched other people’s careers on that very same basis. Would I have had more respect for Lance if he had jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch (a la Tom Cruise) while admitting that he cheated? No, but my lingering impression of him would have been forever changed. I would have felt more compelled to forget about him. All I know is that Lance owes M Te’o a huge debt of thanks. The timing of his disclosure –the “dying girlfriend hoax”–  couldn’t have been better –for Lance. Athletes cheating?  We’ve been saturated with those stories. But a goody-two-shoes athlete conjuring a story about a dying girl friend (because the death of his grandmother wasn’t sufficiently gut wrenching) to draw even more sympathetic attention to himself? Although it’s not a crime, let’s just acknowledge that M Te’o probably wouldn’t do well in a prison’s general population.

Remember Roger Clemens? In the face of what we all thought was damning evidence, including eye-witness testimony, he stuck to his guns, denied any and all wrong doings and has actually prevailed in front of a jury of his peers not once, but twice.  Good for him. No, I’m not congratulating Roger for getting away with anything. I’m just saying, who am I to judge? Even the United States government couldn’t make its charges stick. And “the crime” Mr. Clemens was accused of wasn’t, in fact, even considered illegal when he allegedly did it. I’m sorry, but I’m still having a hard time getting my head around why the DOJ spent taxpayer money on the matter. Who ultimately benefited? Baseball fans or bookies?

I’m a fan of Tiger Woods –and I hope the rumors about him getting back together with his ex are true. And even that’s more than I care to know about Tiger’s personal life. Lance? Perhaps the burden of his deceit was too great for him to bear. But did he need Oprah for absolution? Telling her that he will spend the rest of his life trying to restore his reputation might be more meaningful if spoken privately to those he actually hurt. As far as Mr. Te’o is concerned, I might advise him to consult with Snooki and Tila Tequila –he may have a reality TV opportunity in his future.

I’m beginning to think that spilling one’s guts on national TV –to help manage a PR disaster– is the ultimate in selfish acts.

—Tom Finn

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