How Tiger Woods attempted to repair

his image post scandal
Mike Koulopoulos
Table Of Contents
Background Of The Scandal.....3
Background Of Tiger Woods.....5
Methods and Research Statement.....6
Introduction.....10
Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Ethos, Pathos, Logos.....10
Expectancy Violation Theory.....15
Conclusion.....19
BACKGROUND OF THE SCANDAL
Prior to November 2009 when you heard the name Tiger Woods you would
picture the best golfer at the time as well as picture a man who was happily married and
at the peak of his career. This, however, would all come crashing down following a series
of allegations originally released in The National Inquirer. The public image held of the
once untouchable Tiger Woods had been shattered; the media took the story and ran with
it, Tiger was all over the news and every media source one can name; but this time for the
wrong reasons. (Billings) But once a scandal has rocked the life of a star like Woods, the
previous public image cannot be fully recovered.
On November 25
th
2009, the tabloid The National Inquirer released a story
claiming that Tiger had an extramarital affair with a New York City nightclub employee,
Rachel Uchitel. Two days later (November 27
th
), Woods was involved in an automobile
accident on the street he lives on in his Cadillac Escalade SUV, colliding with a fire
hydrant, tree, and some hedges. Tiger was treated for minor injuries and received a
moving violation. Following the accident, Tiger released a statement on his website
taking full responsibility for the accident, attributing it to a private matter and mentioning
his wife, Elin, helped him from the car. On December 2
nd
, US Weekly released a
voicemail left by Tiger on one of his mistress’s phones, which was followed by Woods
releasing another statement where he “admits transgressions and apologizes to all of
those who have supported [him] over the years” (Woods). Over the next week, dozens of
women stepped forward and claimed to also have had extramarital affairs with the
professional golfer. On December 11
th
Woods released a third statement admitting to the
affairs, and once again apologizing, as well as formally announcing that he “would be
taking an indefinite break from professional golf”. (Wikipedia)
In the months following, Tiger’s attempt to repair his public image was largely
done through his statements and public appearances. He stated that “[he] has attributed
his deviations and infidelity to his losing track of Buddhism.” (ISKCON News) and knew
that the news of his affairs would travel fast and that he needed to make a statement as
soon as possible:
“The mass reporting of poorly sourced (or completely unsourced) information
may reflect a hyper-competitive news environment that places a value on speed
rather than accuracy or reliability. Given how quickly and widely “news” travels
in the internet age, news organizations can be quickly left behind unless they, too,
report what’s already “out there,” even if it turns out to be wrong” (Fahri)
With the speed of mass media not in his favor, Woods needed to decide his plan of action
quickly. His initial speeches and apologies show a man who has accepted responsibility
for his actions and ready to face the public. Once the initial statements had been given, he
had taken the first steps on a long road to attempting to repair his tarnished image.
BACKGROUND OF TIGER WOODS
Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods in Cypress, California on December 30,
1975 to an African American father and a Thai mother. Although he does not have any
direct siblings he does have 3 half siblings. Since early in his life “Woods was raised as a
Buddhist, and actively practiced this faith from childhood until well into his adult
professional golf career” and when asked about it replied: “Buddhism teaches me to stop
following impulse and to learn restraint” (ISKCON News) (BBC News). Tiger began
playing golf before the age of two after being introduced by his father Earl. In 1978 at
age three, Tiger appeared on The Mike Douglas Show and putted against comedian Bob
Hope and shot a 48 over nine holes at the Cypress Navy course. At age five, he appeared
in Golf Digest and a show on ABC called That’s Incredible and before the age of won the
Under Age 10 section of the Drive, Pitch, and Putt competition (also held at the navy golf
course). Woods’ won his first nation junior tournament in 1989 when he was 13 years
old. While attending Western High School in Anaheim, Woods became the youngest to
ever play in the U.S. Junior Amateur and was named 1990 and 1991 Southern California
Amateur Player of the Year. (Wikipedia)
Tiger enrolled at Stanford University in the fall of 1994 with a full golf
scholarship where he majored in economics. Woods played in his first PGA tour event,
the 1995 Masters Tournament and tied for 41
st
overall as the only amateur to make the
cut. Woods became a professional golfer in August of 1996 and signed deals with Nike
and Titleist, which would turn out to be his biggest endorsements and the most “lucrative
endorsement contracts in golf history at that time.” (Sirak) Tiger was inducted to the
California Hall of Fame and the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. He
was also named Athlete of the Decade by the Associated Press in December of 2009 and
has been named the male Athlete of the Year four times.
“Since his record-breaking win at the 1997 Masters Tournament, golf’s increased
popularity is commonly attributed to Woods’ presence. He is credited by some
sources for dramatically increasing prize money in golf, generating interest in
new audiences, and for drawing the largest TV audiences in golf history. (Siezak)
(Rielly)
Some authors and experts as being the sole reason for the boom in golf’s recent success
have credited Woods. Woods acquired all of these honors all while maintaining a squeaky
clean public image and gained high popularity and support from a large fan base.
In November of 2003, Tiger became engaged to Elin Nordregren whom he
eventually married. Their first child was born in June 2007, and there was second born in
February of 2009. They continued to have what appeared to be a good marriage until
later that year when his scandal broke.
Methods & Research Statement
The research question that I chose to explore is how Tiger Woods attempted to
repair his image after his sex scandal. To do so I will look at how the media perceived
him before his scandal and then look at the way he is viewed post scandal. Based on how
the media handled other scandals such as Kobe Bryant or Michael Vick, I predict the
change to be almost instantaneous in nature and to be drastic as well. Tiger Woods was
one of the most revered golfers, especially for being in a “white” sport, and his scandal
changed sports and his career forever.
To analyze articles about this topic a number of techniques were employed when
reading them. While reading primary documents, such as Woods’ apology speech, I
carefully examined his word choice and who he was attempting to target in his
statements, as well as watched the video (when available) to see how he delivered his
speech and how emotionally involved he appears to be with the speech. To analyze
secondary documents, such as ones covering other scandals, I looked mainly at the
historical context of the scandal and the details surrounding the person and their career.
On top of that I also reviewed the author’s research about the other scandals in order to
see if they believed how the scandal was handled was the appropriate actions or not. For
other secondary sources about Tiger but not pertaining directly to sports scandals, I
observed what language was being used to describe Tiger and what the time frame was of
when the article was written. If the article was pre scandal I tried to use the information to
help my argument for one of the theories I chose to use in this paper, Expectancy
Violation Theory.
The first of two theories used to analyze Woods’ is Aristotle’s Rhetoric, which is
broken down further into three parts: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is defines as
“perceived credibility, which comes from the speaker’s intelligence, character, and
goodwill toward the audience, as these personal characteristics are revealed through the
message” (Griffin 293). This theory was the one I used mainly when analyzing primary
documents because it helped paint a clearer picture of Woods’ character shortly after the
scandal as well as proved to be key in determining whether he was sincere or not in these
statements.
The second part pathos is defined as “emotional proof, which comes from the
feelings the speech draws out of those who hear it” (Griffin 294). This can be applied to
both primary documents from Woods’ himself as well as secondary documents written
about the subject. The initial emotional response that a reader has causes feelings and
opinions to be built.
The third and final part of this theory is logos, which is defined as “logical proof,
which comes from the line of argument in a speech” (Griffin 291). In Wood’s case this
could very well be the least important aspect of rhetoric, because it does not matter what
his argument is, it matter more what occurred and how the public and the media’s
reaction to his scandal was.
Since Tiger’s scandal is fairly new in the sense of history, few authors have
studied it in depth and none that have chosen the topic of how the media shaped his
image. Most seem to focus solely on the fact that he is a black athlete in a notoriously
white sport, or simply add him to a list of other scandals and compare his situation to
these other scandals. The research question I have proposed adds a new angle in which to
look at Woods’ image, career and even potential future.
One of the Authors that I have read over these past few weeks has been Paul
Fahri. He wrote an article in the American Journalism Review titles “Lost In The Woods”
which explores the area of inaccurate news and facts breaking about the case. It points
the finger mainly at the internet side of the media on sites that are intended for celebrity
gossip, and how these statements were taken as fact and used on mainstream news outlets
and news papers nation wide. This provides a good view of how the media can influence
the image of some body without even being totally factually correct in its statements.
This article is going to be one that I refer to often because it shows that even
nonfactual information can lead to a persons image being tarnished. With nonfactual
information compiled with all the true information, that makes for an incredible amount
of media coverage about one person and makes it incredibly easy for the media to shape
the image about a person.
Introduction
Tiger Woods was once viewed as one of the best athletes in the world as well as a
tremendous role model. This, however, all came crashing down around him when the
news of his extramarital affair scandal broke to the media. From then on it has been a
roller coaster ride of interviews, statements, apologies, and so on, about the incident and
how “could he have done something like that” questions. His image was tarnished forever
by this scandal and in the time since then Tiger has taken the correct steps needed to
attempt to repair his image to closer to what it once was.
Woods used a number of techniques in the journey to repair his image including
Aristotles Rhetoric theory’s part: ethos, pathos, and logos, Expectancy Violation theory,
and taking the audience’s thoughts away from the scandal momentarily through the
positive aspects of his character. All of these methods prove to be successful in the slow
process of repairing his image, mainly through the media. One of the biggest obstacle
Tiger must tackle is the ability to make a connection with the audience through percieved
credibility, emotion and logic.
Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Ethos, Pathos, Logos
Ethos
Tiger’s public addresses can be analyzed through the communicative theory of
“The Rhetorics”. The theory consists of three main parts: ethos, pathos and logos. Each
part plays integral part when addressing the public in large masses.
Ethos is the “perceived credibility, which comes from the speaker’s intelligence,
character, and goodwill toward the audience, as these personal characteristics are
revealed through the message.” (Griffin 293) While making these speeches to such a vast
audience, Woods needed to pay close attention to the characteristics of ethos. His
perceived intelligence was immediately scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb. By
immediately stepping up to the plate and accepting responsibility from the start, Woods
began to gain respect from the public. According to Bayers:
“Like Vick, Woods did the requisite national media mea culpa when he first
returned to the public eye. And both of them made the expected trite gestures at
atoning for their respective sins: Woods by letting us know that he had sought
treatment for sexual addiction; Vick by hooking up with the Humane Society to
do youth outreach.” (Bayers)
Had he not owned up to his actions so quickly, there is a much higher probability that the
public would have ostracized him even more by his fans and those watching the events
unfold. Bayers agrees with the decision to own up to his sex addiction so quickly and
argues that it helped to start repairing his image by doing so. This also ties in with the
characteristic of virtuous character, while clearly from the start of the scandal Woods was
not being viewed as virtuous, his immediate apology shed light on the virtue of his
character and was something for him to build upon. The third and final characteristic of
ethos is a person’s good will, or positive judgment of the speaker’s intention toward the
audience. With all eyes on him, Woods had made a public apology statement targeting his
fans, family and any one else who had supported him throughout his career. While the
immediacy of his apology may have made it seem less sincere to some, his follow up by
attending sexual addiction therapy backed up his statements and allowed for him to be
viewed with more integrity. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” certainly
rings a bell here, which Tiger used to his advantage to strengthen his argument of
rehabilitation to the public.
In order for his audience to take his claims seriously according to Reilly:”He
needs to skip San Diego, skip the Masters, maybe even skip the U.S. Open. When your
house is rubble, you don't go play the Buick Open. Tiger needs to prove to his wife, Elin,
sponsors and fans that morality is more important than majors”(Reilly). By skipping out
on these events it shows his audience that his focus is on rehabilitation and not on his
career and gives the appearance that he is putting forth a sincere effort in putting his life
back together.
Pathos
The second part of Aristotle’s Rhetoric that Woods needed to address is pathos, or
the “emotional proof, which comes from the feelings that speech draws out of those who
hear it” (Griffin 294). Early on in his public address on CBS Sports, Woods begins to
touch upon the emotions of the audience listening:
“I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room.
I have let you down. I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my
friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who
Work for me, I have let you down, personally and
professionally.” (CBSNewsOnline)

By bringing the emotions of the audience, as well as his own emotions, into the address
he connects with the audience through pathos. During his speech, Tiger is seen taking
pauses where he swallows hard or has to regain his composure before continuing, these
both add to the emotional proof that the audience is looking for that his statements are
indeed sincere and further helps him persuade them in his arguments. These natural
emotions that he expresses are the ones that are expected of some one giving an apology
speech and help reinforce his statements to the public. By immediately referencing every
group he intended to hear the message, he builds a base of his argument through rhetoric.
From there he can continue his argument for accepting his apology and rebuilding his
image.
During Woods’ initial apology he makes the following statement:
“I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not
without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and
personal failings behind closed doors with my family.”(Woods)

By admitting his shortcomings in such details he draws the attention of the audience and
attempts to plant the seed of repairing his image in their minds. By immediately
admitting his transgressions and his faults he hopes to connect to his audience on an
emotional level and to continue to build his argument through the other two aspects of
rhetoric, logos and ethos.
Logos
The final aspect of the Rhetoric that Woods had to tackle is logos, the “logical
proof, which comes from the line of argument in a speech” (Griffin 291). The first part of
Woods’ speech is the admittance of guilt and the acceptance that people will be
scrutinizing him:
“Many of you in the room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me.
Many of you have cheered for me, or worked with me, or supported me, and now,
Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me.” (CBSNewsOnline)
By accepting the fact that the public has good reason to be critical of him, he is
establishing the logic in his argument. By doing so, he draws the public into his argument
and sets up the next part of his speech in which he introduces even more logic by saying
exactly what could be on the audience’s mind: “I know people want to find out how I
could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these
things to my wife, Elin, and to my children.” (CBSNewsOnline). By touching on the
potential thoughts of his audience, this allows Woods to further build the logic in his
argument and begins to persuade the audience that his statements are legitimate.
(Carnegie) (Cooper)
After doing so, according to Benoit, Tiger must then utilize his public statements
and mention positive characteristics about himself. By doing so the hope is to “strengthen
the audience’s positive feelings toward [Woods] in order to attempt offset any “negative
feelings connected with the wrongful act” (Benoit 3). Woods implemented this strategy
by speaking about the Tiger Woods Foundation and specifically apologizing to the
“young students” that his foundation reaches out too. He goes on to point out how many
lives his foundation has changed and how many opportunities for young children have
been created by his foundation. By doing so he shifts the conversation to a more
supportive tone and hope to distract the audience from his extra marital affairs and sex
addiction. By undertaking this particular strategy, he is reminding his audience about his
positive qualities as well as the hope for the future and attempting to connect on an
emotional level with the audience through the logic of his argument.
Woods continued the use of this strategy by bringing up his plans to realign
himself with his Buddhist roots that his mother had taught him at a young age
(Wikipedia). Although many members of his audience probably do not fully understand
the core beliefs behind buddhism, Tiger is attempting to project an image of peace and
ethics:” It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint”(Woods).
This again is an attempt to show his steps to recovery from this addiction and is
attempting to again call upon positive qualities that could previously be associated with
him.
Expectancy Violation Theory
A second theory being used to analyze Woods’ situation is the Expectancy
Violation theory. According to Judee Burgoon expectancy is defined as “what people
predict will happen, rather than what they desire” (Burgoon). With the image Tiger had
made for himself no one predicted that he would be involved in a sex scandal so when the
story broke in the National Enquirer it shocked his fans. Athletes and celebrities are held
to a high expectancy: “moral violations committed by famous athletes seemed
particularly reprehensible because they are often positioned as role models to children
and adults alike.” (Cohen 107). These violations for Woods are thus more devastating in
public opinion because it involved a sex scandal that nobody saw coming. Also according
to Cohen “there is some evidence that relationships with media figures are characterized
by less emotional intensity than relationships” (Cohen 100), which goes hand in hand
with Aristotle’s Rhetoric theory, specifically ethos.
Once the violation has occurred it can be examined further by the theory through
Violation Valence, which is “the perceived positive or negative value assigned to a breach
of expectations, regardless of who the violator is.” (Burgoon). In Wood’s case, the
Violation Valence would be considered very high. While there is not a numerical system
designated to measure this, the expectancy for Woods’ was that he would remain the best
in the most gentlemanly sport there is. In a study done by Cohen it was found that “for
media figures, the trust and social violation means were significantly higher than minor
moral violations” (Cohen 104). In the terms of her study, Woods falls into the media
figure category and by violating his expectations through a sex scandal he lost the trust of
many of his fans, friends and family members. Since her study was done through the
survey of average people however, one can assume that this statement is most true about
his fans, however it would not be a stretch to apply to his family and friends as well. The
reaction of the public and media to his scandal was widespread shock that he could have
done something like that; unbeknownst to the public and media, their reactions are a
measure of the Violation Valence.
Although Tiger may never be able to polish his tarnished image back to the
squeaky clean one he had before, he can continue putting in effort and working to repair
his image to the fullest extent that it can be. As stated in the conclusion on a study done
by Cathy Jenkins “It appears that as Woods continues working to repair his image and
rebuild his golfing career, the ‘nice guy’ role model may be replaced with that of a man
who learns from his mistakes”(Jenkins). Since his original violation valence was broken,
he has attempted to repair his image and regain the “nice guy” aspect of his previous
image, he is unlikely to ever be separated from the scandal that has changed his life and
his career forever.
Another Valence introduced is the Communicator Reward Valence, which is
defined as “the sum of positive and negative attributes brought to the encounter plus the
potential to reward or punish in the future” (Burgoon). In Woods’ case the potential in the
future is mostly punishing, although, there was also room for potential to reward because
he could fix his sex addiction and become number one in the world of golf once again.
The Communicator Reward Valence is very important when looking at Tiger’s case
because he has so much to gain and, even though he has already lost so much, still has
more to lose. When the events of the scandal unfolded Woods lost his wife, family life,
privacy and obviously his ability to remain the top ranked golfer in the world. Prior to
this he was viewed almost the same way OJ Simpson was as a “golden boy” type figure
and followed right in his footsteps of destroying that image of himself.
In an interview with Christian Red about a year after the scandal first broke into
the media, Woods was very open to answering all aspects of the scandal (except for
details that he has never disclosed, such as what caused the car accident) and “did not
mention his ex-wife by name during the interview, which lasted about 25 minutes. He
instead chose to focus on his two children, daughter Sam and son Charlie and how his
past sins have set the stage for him to be a better person and father”(Red). By choosing to
focus mainly on his children and how he can be a better father in the future, he is not only
calling upon logos but also attempting to mold the new valence that his audience is
setting for him.
Later in that same interview Woods states that:
“when the time comes to tell his two kids about his life of mistresses and
affairs, he will tell them, "absolutely the truth, what I had done, what I did.
I can't change the past. Sit down there and talk to them face to face,
eyeball to eyeball."”(Red)
This again helps further his argument that he is giving a sincere effort at
rehabilitating himself and provides detail that he has thought into the long term of his life
and his families lives. By doing so he further attempts to shape the new valence currently
in place for him and helps prove that he is on the right path in his life once again. While
he will never attain the same squeaky clean image he had before, makes statements like
this in interviews allows the public to see the “good guy” image they had of Tiger still
may be inside of him.
After violating the expectations set by the public comes a completely new set of
expectations. The new set of expectations for Woods is vastly different from the ones
previously set for him. The new ones could include things such as the expectation to
regain his superiority in golf or that he is going to fall prey to another sex scandal in the
future. These new expectations formed allow for the potential for them to be violated in a
new way as well. While the expectation for some might be that he is going to succumb to
another scandal, there is also the flip side that expects him to clean up his act and return
to his previous state. Thus, no matter what happens in Woods’ life he will be violating the
expectancy that a group has set up for him.
CONCLUSION
When all is said and done, this scandal shook up Tiger’s career and the world of sports
forever. Being a black athlete in a notoriously white sport only made the fall harder and tougher
to recover from. Tiger attempted to repair his image starting almost immediately after the scandal
broke by issuing apology statements taking full responsibility for his actions and admitting
himself into sexual addiction therapy. This act alone sets him apart from how a lot of other
celebrities who have gone through a scandal. When giving these statements he weighed in on the
different aspects of Aristotle’s Rhetoric theory ethos, logos, and pathos, and hoped to ring an
emotional bell his audience.
Woods also relied on the techniques of specifically targeting different areas of his
audience and bringing up positive characteristics about himself in an attempt to almost distract
the audience from the scandal. By doing so he hoped to bolster his argument that he still has that
“good guy” side that people saw in his scandal broke and simply to take the audience’s mind
away from the scandal and its details momentarily. This aspect of his road to image repair can be
easily over looked but is actually a key part to how he structured his image reparation argument.
The communicative theory Expectancy Violation Theory may also be applied to Tiger’s
specific situation as well, for a majority of his fans this was the last thing that was expected from
him. By breaking this valence he then created an entirely new set of valences for himself, due to
the fact that his fans and those who support him were not sure what to expect of him next. The
probable possibilities for Tiger were for him to rehabilitate himself of his sex addiction and
attempt to return to his life like it was before and be the top golfer in the world, or for him to
struggle with what is going on and perhaps have another scandal and not regain top golfer status
again.
Tiger continues to try to repair his image even in the present day, by giving interviews,
showing that he’s giving his children and family the time and effort it needs and proving in other
ways that he has his life back in order. Although he can never have his previous glorified image
as the best golfer in the world, while also having a squeaky clean personal image, one of the next
steps Woods needs to make is to continue to play well and win tournaments and get his career
back on track. The new valence he continues to shape for himself everyday by showing his
newly rehabilitated self is one that the audience generally accepts and personally, as a fan of
Tiger Woods, I hope that he continues to put forth and strive for.
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