Save Your Sorry’s

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Sports just because

Why is it that every time an athlete says they are sorry it always seems so scripted? How are we supposed to know that an athlete is truly sorry given the many privileged positions they are in?

This post was sparked by the apology presented to us by one Terrell Pryor, formerly of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The disgraced former starting quarterback had a masterful career at the Big 10 powerhouse amassing a 31-4 record, both a Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl victories while collecting the Rose Bowl offensive MVP and various other school records including most passing touchdowns by a quarterback (tied with Bobby Hoying with 57).

I watched some footage of his press conference apology and got a different take from it. As Pryor sat at the podium with super-agent Drew Rosenhaus it seemed more like the beginning of something else, rather than the conclusion of a tainted collegiate career.

Pryor was very cold faced, focussed almost, as if he was making sure he remembered each line that Rosenhaus had written out for him in order to minimize criticism. He thanked Ohio State and referred to Jim Tressel as a second father. Really? Didn’t know that he attended your little league games and birthday parties but with all his other NCCA violations I guess it’s believable he was there.

This reminded me of the fake Michael Vick apology where he promised us he would be better, that he needed to be better. Now several years later after having served his prison sentence, resurrected his football career and participated in over 20 animal rights events he seems sorry for his actions.

On the day of his last press conference before prison however, he made a very heart felt apology or so it seemed. It was later discovered that his speech which appeared to be sincere and original had in fact been scripted and written down for him to present to us as if it were on the spot emotion and humility.

I am sick of these fake apologies all in the name of image. If normal people can’t get away with fake apologies why should professional athletes? I’m not asking you to say you’re sorry, I want you to actually be sorry or just shut up.

When A-Rod apologized for using performance enhancing drugs during his MVP years in Texas during his first monster contract deal, I didn’t want to hear it. It was read off a piece of paper at the Yankees spring training facility and he clearly recited it word for word.

Emotion? None. Sincerity? None. He was doing this for two reasons only, to have some shot at cleaning up their image as an athlete so that the fans would cheer him on at home and stop asking questions. He wanted the people to still chant his name when he came to the plate. Secondly the money, by admitting to his mistakes, no matter how little genuine remorse he showed, he could still sign endorsement deals.

That is why athletes do this, for marketability, otherwise why would they even bother wasting their time reading something aloud to the media and the fans that someone else wrote?

Another great example is Tiger Woods, although Nike has stayed with him Gillette and GM dropped Tiger as a sponsor after his personal problems came to light last fall. Nike stuck with him why? Because financially they had no choice, Tiger makes them a lot more money than they pay him so from a business stand point moral ground was nowhere to be found.

I understand that, but Nike never tried to hide from the obvious, they simply stated they were staying with Tiger and their business together. What I like about that is no smoke screens, no tricks. It may be a topic of debate of whether or not Nike should have stayed with him, but given their past problems with labour disputes ethical and moral standards is not one of Nike’s main concerns.

Sometimes I even feel like these athletes are mocking our intelligence when they organize a press conference to make these fake apologies. They make it a big dog a pony show, welcome us to the set, thank us for sharing our time, then get to business. There are some small thanks given, maybe some sponsors thanked then about a two to three minute apology read from the transcript. After which there might be time for questions, if they want.

How is this always controlled by the athlete? Why do people keep showing up for this? If you are to hold a press conference you must be subjected to questioning, that is the right of the media. They showed up to hear you talk, the least you can do is answer 10 questions about the incident and why you are apologizing.

Shouldn’t the apologizer be made to explain why he’s there apologizing? Or how he plans to better himself? How can Drew Rosenhaus dismiss everyone and not answer a single question yet expect people to cover these apologies?

Clearly something needs to change in the great world of sports when it comes to a press conference and the responsibilities held by each party. Sadly, I don’t think that will change anytime soon.

We have become accustomed to the fake apology, the lying and cheating that happened before it, but never expect a true resolution. Well that ends here, Preston on Sports is calling out every past, present and future athlete who wants to make an apology. You want to say you’re sorry? No reading, no press conference, no agents. Here are the ground rules for us as sports fans to believe you:

1) There must be no written material for you to read off of. If you’re sincere, let it flow from the heart, we do not need to be read what other people tell you to think or feel.

2) If it is done in a press conference you MUST answer questions from the media. I will say this time and time again and never waver on my position, the media and athlete have a joint partnership in the sports entertainment business and you must answer their questions because without the media, you have no exposure, end of story.

3) No family members, agents, coaches, etc. on stage with you, you are alone at a podium. You alone were the one who committed the acts that require attonement and as such you will face your audience the same way, alone.

4) You will dress smartly, not in track suits, jeans, but in at least a suit minus the tie.

5) Take it seriously. You are asking forgiveness for your wrong doings from us, the fans, and the people who pay to see you play. We have been wronged by your errors and you sincerely want us to forgive. If you don’t, tell us to shut up and get on with our lives, but never pretend like you care if you don’t, we don’t need to be humoured.

Am I the ruling power over what makes an apology real/fake? No, I am not. But I know what I like and certainly what I don’t like and fake apologies is one of them. In the words of George Costanza, I can only leave all you fake sorry people with this, if you’re going to stand up there and lie “You can stuff your sorry’s in a sack, mister!”

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