Athletes make mistakes, too. Is it so hard to say ‘I’m sorry?’

Alexandra Brell

Many baseball fans remember the weekend the Detroit Tigers lost their division lead last season. They were four games ahead and were playing a three-game series against the White Sox.

First baseman, power slugger and American League MVP contender Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 11 that weekend and the Tigers ended the season with a memorable collapse.

The morning before the Tigers blew their division lead, Cabrera blew a .26 in a breathalyzer after a night of partying. He somehow managed to report to the game that evening but failed to perform at his usual standards.

Last week, Cabrera emerged from a three-month stint in rehab for alcohol addiction. Not only is he clean and sober, but he has come clean with the media. He publicly acknowledged his struggle with alcohol as well as his rigorous recovery program. He apologized for the effect his addiction had on his team, the fans and the game.

Let’s shift gears from one Tiger to another: After having a string of extra-marital affairs, several media outlets are reporting Tiger Woods is in a sex rehab clinic in Mississippi. While the rehab stint is unconfirmed, the multiple affairs certainly have been.

Nothing, though, has come directly, or personally, from the man himself. Woods went into hiding while his long line of mistresses did the opposite. They marched forward in bizarre attempts to clear their own names.

I’ve never considered Woods’ sex life any of my business, but the media has made it my business, providing nonstop coverage since last November.

Since it was Woods’ choice to be a public figure, he needs to address these issues with his fans in a responsible, adult manner. The public deserves more than a few Web site postings of admitted “transgressions.”

There is empathy for a person who takes responsibility for their faults and weaknesses, especially when those weaknesses are played out in public. We are a forgiving people, particularly of athletes who have made mistakes in their personal lives. We’ve seen them re-emerge a repentant and renewed version of their former selves.

It doesn’t matter if they repent for their families, fans or for their sponsors. The allusion is that they cared enough to step up.

With Cabrera, there will be neither speculation nor rumors about what happened between that morning in October and now. Assuming he remains sober, the attention will be on what Cabrera was hired to do: help win ballgames.

Take Alex Rodriguez, for example. He confessed to steroid use earlier last year. The scandal has taken a back seat to his winning his first World Series with the Yankees.

Don’t forget Kobe Bryant’s affair or Ray Lewis’ run in with the law, each of these being a thing of the past. We are capable of forgiving and moving on.

I’m not being judgmental about Woods’ behavior; nor am I condoning rampant sex with all of Las Vegas (or in Lewis’ case, involuntary manslaughter). My belief applies to all: what a person does off the field or behind closed doors is no one’s business, especially if they are not causing anyone harm.

However, if the media exposes an athlete (or any public figure) in a massive lapse of judgment, the onus lies with that athlete to take an active and responsible stance. Don’t insult your fans by hiding. Meet the issue head on. Just say you’re sorry.

We may never find out if Tiger’s alleged sex addiction is real or a public relations ploy in his road to returning to the PGA. It’s possible we will still hear from him one day. If he waits too long, we may lose our willingness to care and his “sorry” will fall on deaf ears.