Joanne O’Riordan: Sorry, but sporting ‘apologies’ don’t impress
Karius the latest sports figure to publicly don sackcloth and ashes
Tiger Woods: made a public apology at a press conference for cheating on his then wife. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty
It is hands down the most repeated line by celebrities in this constantly outraged modern era. The hypersensitive times that we have become accustomed to has forced celebrities, sports stars and everyone to utter the words “I am sorry if my actions caused offence”.
This came to mind after watching Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius apologising to basically everyone who had spent their hard-earned money only to see him drop balls – and dash hopes and dreams – all within a matter of minutes. Sorry, Karius, if my words caused offence.
But, seriously, what grinds my gears more than players apologising for poor performances is the fake PR constructed apology in front of hordes of journalists and photographers, clicking away as a sports star or general star reads a pre-written speech they had collected at the door a mere five minutes ago. Spoiler alert: the apology more than likely isn’t sincere.
The apology is only aimed at sponsors who have decided that type of behaviour doesn’t reflect well on the brand. Tiger Woods cheating on his ex-wife wasn’t right for Nike, but accusations of sweatshops and sponsoring centres accused of doping in athletics is okay for the brand.
Nobody can apologise as well as American sports stars. Take Alex Rodriguez. A man who I felt the need to apologise to when, on a trip to New York to see the Yankees play, I accidentally called arguably baseball’s most celebrated player Curtis Granderson. Hey, I don’t know baseball.
But his apology was made when he was accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs. While he rightly acknowledged nobody believed him, one of the best parts of the apology was it arrived to fans via social media in a cursive, hand-written, gold note. The annoying bit was it spread across two pages. Sorry, A-Rod for calling you Curtis, but I’m also sorry you put time and effort into that apology to only acknowledge two facts: nobody cared, and nobody believed you.
Or how about Mike Tyson, possibly suffering concussion, being made stand up and apologise for being a borderline cannibal.
After munching Evander Holyfield’s ear, an act I admittedly thought was made up by my brothers until I was about 10 and watched a clip on YouTube, Tyson knew we were in shock, borderline horrified. But in a statement disguised in mumbles and rambling, he said what we all probably thought.
“I’m only saddened that the fight didn’t go on further . . . that the boxing fans of the world might have seen for themselves who would come out on top,”. Ear nibbling aside, we all thought it.
Tyson aside, what are they apologising for?
I get the fact that some committed serious mistakes, but what pleasure do we get in watching another person falsely apologise just to win back corrupt sponsors and whatever fans are remaining.
Some may say it’s not the words, it’s how they say it. Some may say they have a young fan base who may be influenced to commit said mistakes. But, be serious, when has a young person cheated on their partner and said “sorry, blame Tiger Woods, he influenced me”.
My brothers may have threatened to go Mike Tyson, or even I may have threatened to go full on Luis Suarez, but I can’t imagine facing my mother and saying I was influenced by Suarez or Mike Tyson to bite my brothers’ mid wrestling match.
Apologies are well and good, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about hitting the three Rs in PR. Repent and say you are sorry, take some level of responsibility and do something to put it right. However, we can all see past it.
Enough with the the faux-apology, the non-apology and if-apology. I know an athlete has no clue why they are standing on a podium apologising. I know when the statement was written the person in question barely glanced at it. And I know if they were sorry, they wouldn’t care what the public thinks, they would be trying to make amends privately to those closer to them that they have hurt.
Don’t be sorry you got caught. Don’t be sorry your bank account is slowly draining due to sponsors fleeing the scene of the crime and don’t be sorry if some child repeats your mistake because their parents have decided their kid should be taught and parented by a celebrity. You know, maybe just don’t bother participating in the media circus.
Understand why you need to apologise, get educated about your mistake and fix it for the future. But, don’t waste others’ time and efforts just to win back sponsors and donors to the cause. Apologise for the action, not the reaction. Someday, someone will say it explicitly: “I did it. I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
If, finally, someone’s willing to be sincere.