Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tiger Woods Scandal: The Impact on His Larger-Than-Life Persona

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tiger Woods Scandal: The Impact on His Larger-Than-Life Persona

Article excerpt

The Tiger Woods scandal, it turns out, shows that he is only human after all.

The problem he faces today is that since going pro in 1996, the links giant has crafted a larger-than-life persona through the worldwide media - and now the media are putting his image in a different light.

More than Michael Jordan, more than Dale Earnhardt Jr., Woods built his "brand" on his own terms, image experts say. It was his "own destiny," as his late father, Earl Woods, once put it.

One result: Woods recently became the first athlete to break the $1 billion earnings mark. But the carefully scultped, squeaky-clean image may have glossed over personal faults.

The question now is whether, in the end, the public persona refracted rather than reflected the actual Woods, and what that means for the image next.

Millions around the world adore the Tiger icon - the man with the rocket swing. While many of his fans simply want the media to lay off Woods, the intense interest, some media experts say, is justified.

"[I]t didn't take much peddling from Team Tiger for us to accept Woods as a modern deity," writes Slate's Jack Shafer on Wednesday. "So now that the 'real' Woods has been revealed as a ... [lout] who behaves more like your out-of-work ... brother-in-law than an object of worship, we feel cheated."

Woods has been linked in some reports with other women, including a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas. That has resurrected stories from early in his career that described Woods as a well-known "hound" with the ladies. These stories seem more insightful, critics say, than a decade of careful reportage and image sculpting.

On Wednesday, Woods apologized for unspecified "transgressions," but he also lashed out at those who called on him to exhibit contrition by press release.

After Woods turned pro, writes Esquire correspondent Charles Pierce, "the marketing cocoon around him became almost impenetrable." He continues, "The Tiger Woods that was constructed for corporate consumption was spotless and smooth, an edgeless brand easily peddled to sheikhs and shakers. The perfect marriage with the perfect kids slipped so easily into the narrative it seemed he'd been born married. …

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