Sha’Carri Richardson Apology on Live TV

The apology from athlete Sha’Carri Richardson on the Today show last week offers a glimpse into how hard it is to give a good live unscripted public apology. Richardson was banned from competing in this year’s Olympics in her signature event, the 100-meter dash, because she used marijuana before the qualifying event in Oregon last month. She explained that, a few days prior to the event, a reporter informed her that her biological mother had just died. It sounds like her relationship with her mother was complicated, and this news was “nerve-shocking.” So she used marijuana, which is legal in Oregon but is against Olympic rules, to cope with her pain.

In an interview on the Today show with Savannah Guthrie on July 2, Richardson apologized:

“I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do. But I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse.”

Richardson struggles not to blame the reporter: “Who are you to tell me this news? But he was just doing his job.”

She also struggles not to defend herself: “People don’t understand what it’s like … Well, people do, we all have our different struggles… Who are you – who am I, to tell you how to cope?”

She said, “I apologize,” but it wasn’t clear whether she was apologizing for using marijuana, or for not finding a different way to deal with her pain. She asked her fans not to judge her, reminding them, “I’m human, I’m just like you, I just run a little faster.” She acknowledged that she let down her fans, and promised it won’t happen again – both elements of a good apology.

 

 

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