Attorney-led Apologies Like the ...


You knew it was coming.

Today Ryan Lochte issued the requisite apology for making up a story that he was robbed at gunpoint during a night on the town with his pals during the summer Olympics.

You can’t really chalk up the bad behavior to impetuous youth. Lochte is 32 years old.

Still, adults can make bad decisions too. And when you’re a world-class athlete on the Olympic stage and make a bad decision — like fabricating a story that my grandmother in her Yiddish glory would call “meshuga” — you have to say something to the outside world in the form of an apology.

Given the money at stake, I also recognize that it behooves Lochte to sanity-check his apology with his trusted advisors.

Makes perfect sense.

But it should be Lochte writing the apology in his voice, not the attorneys.

Here are the words attributed to Lochte:

I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.

It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country – with a language barrier – and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am story to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors and the hosts of this great event. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.

I am grateful for my USA Swimming teammates and the USOC, and appreciate all of the efforts of the IOC, the Rio ’16 Host Committee and the people of Brazil who welcomed us to Rio and worked so hard to make sure that the Olympic Games provided a lifetime of great new memories. There has already been too much said and too many valuable resources dedicated to what happened last weekend, so I hope we spend our time celebrating the great stories and performances of these Games and look ahead to celebrating future successes.

If you’ve heard Lochte interviewed, you know he didn’t write this apology (and what’s with the posting on Instagram instead of his personal website).

It would have been so much better if he had just said he was sorry in his own words.

We don’t need to know about the “trauma” he experienced. We don’t need to know about his heroic actions to make sure his teammates were safe before talking. And we don’t need to hear about how grateful he is for the Olympic experience and how hard the people of Brazil worked to stage the Olympics.

Some will argue that there’s too much “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in Lochte to allow him to write the apology.

I disagree.

At least we would have believed it.

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