A Rhetorical Criticism Of Tiger Woods

931 words - 4 pages

On April 21st, 2010, an American golfer whose achievements made him a legend found himself behind a podium, defending his actions in front of a crowd of family, friends, and a public whom he had shocked. In 2009, Tiger Woods experienced the biggest blow to his career in the form of a car crash and infidelity scandal. Not only was he married with two kids, but he was easily identifiable as a positive role model for children across the world. His actions challenged the core of American morals and raised feelings of contempt among the public. These next 14 minutes of speaking in defense would be Tiger’s only chance to set things straight, his only chance to rebuild his life. Over the course of his speech, Tiger utilized the four rhetorical techniques for self-defense as cited by Ware and Linkugel in the article, “They Spoke In Defense Of Themselves: On The Generic Criticism Of Apologia”. By expressing denial, bolstering, differentiation, and transcendence, Tiger made a plea for forgiveness in his Apologia speech.
Tiger does not once deny that he was unfaithful to his wife, or that he betrayed his friends, fans, and family. Although he took full responsibility of his actions, he denied claims made by the media concerning his involvement with performance enhancing drugs, and his wife’s actions. It seemed kind of off-base for Tiger to address allegations involving the use of steroids in a speech focused on apologizing for his actions as this was a blatant distraction from the issue at hand. In addition to this, Tiger also denied any rumors in circulation that his wife had hit him. He claimed that there had never been “an episode of domestic violence” in their marriage. By stating this, Tiger was successful in creating a sense of normality about his relationship with his wife in an otherwise bizarre scenario.
In addition to denial, a bolstering factor was present in Tiger’s speech, although its success was questionable. The idea behind bolstering is for a speaker to identify himself with something viewed favorably by the audience (277). In Tiger’s case, he attempted to connect to his audience by connecting with them through religion, and charity. Tiger claimed he would live by the Buddhist morals he was raised under, as well as maintain involvement in his organization of learning enrichment. Although it is visible that Tiger was trying to reinforce the goodness of his morality to the audience, it seems that he fell short. When a speaker decides to use a bolstering strategy, they are limited by the reality the audience already perceives (278). How can Tiger speak of not following impulses and practicing restraints just months after cheating on his wife with 12 separate women? Tiger claimed that his immoral actions were a result of fame and money. This totally detracted from his bolstering technique, as not very many people can...

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