Friday, January 13, 2006

i'm sorry (if i must be)

On slippery slope, Bode Miller apologizes - Sports - International Herald Tribune

When I was a kid and some altercation with another kid was getting a little out of hand some well-meaning adult would always step in and make one of us, or both, apologize. “Tell Billy you’re sorry, John,” would be the usual refrain, delivered lyrically, as if sing-song would add power to the command.

I’d always comply -– no other way to get rid of the narc and prevent escalation to the court of mommy and daddy -- but it was not sincere, expressed in the most grudging way possible. And if “Billy” was foolish enough to gloat when the adult left I would retract it with a new dose of pain. “I didn’t mean it, stupid!” I’d say, delivered lyrically, knowing sing-song would rub salt into the wound.

I still find myself occasionally reluctant to apologize for something that I should be sorry for, still wrestling that old instinct to the mat before doing the right thing. I don’t have much to apologize for these days, fortunately, but I am reminded of this sort of evasiveness very often. Apparently we all had the same experiences growing up because public people don’t seem capable of apologizing directly for bad behavior and dumb remarks and never seem to do so without pressure from, well, a grownup.

An apology is: “I was wrong.” An apology isn’t: “I’m sorry, if anybody was offended by my [words][deeds][what my words/deeds were interpreted to mean].”

Bode miller is the latest practitioner of the art of the non-apology. In an apparently true statement on “60 Minutes”, the reigning overall World Cup champion said he had raced drunk. Under pressure he issued a statement, because his comments had “caused a lot of confusion and pain” for his team “and even just family and friends who have supported me, who I think are subject to only what the media puts out in America.”

Some inner circle. They only know what they read about their homey Bode in the newspaper.

“And because of the way I made those comments in the 60 Minutes interview it caused a lot of confusion and pain for all those people and obviously that’s nothing I want to do so firstly I’d like to apologize to them,” Bode said.

So, he’s sorry for outing himself about being guilty of RUI? For letting the world know what his friends and family and team might have known all along and kept silent about for his benefit?

An apology is: “I’m sorry for drinking on the job. It is especially poor behavior for an elite athlete. I have set a terrible example, and I’m sure my bad behavior has contributed to poor performances that let my teammates and fans down.”

Oh yeah -- I’m sorry for wasting your time with this diatribe. I mean it -- really.