Crisis Management and Sports in the Age of Social Media: A Case Study Analysis of the Tiger Woods Scandal

By Blair Bernstein
Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications
2012, Vol. 3 No. 2 | pg. 3/3 |

IV. Conclusion

Crises can arise at all times, in all industries. But no industry sees a more disproportionate share of media attention than sports. The growing interest of the American people and the development of social media have created an environment that disseminates rapidly information surrounding athlete scandal and extends its discussion. It has increased the need for pre-crisis planning and post-crisis responses. In 2009, Tiger Woods experienced it firsthand, as stories of alleged mistresses and a furious wife made their way to the media. Woods' PR staff relied primarily on mortification strategies to manage the crisis, accepting blame and apologizing to his wife, family, and fans whenever he spoke. Though it is highly unlikely Woods' image returns to what it used to be, social media research indicates conversations regarding the professional golfer are slowly returning to the discussion of his game. Public opinion of Woods has improved, since the break of the scandal; and though the public disapproved of his behavior and occasionally the way the crisis was handled, the mortification strategies used were mildly effective. One can conclude that atonement helps humanize once larger-than-life athletes. But ultimately, his success on the course will have the biggest impact on how people regard Tiger Woods.


This author is thankful to Dr. Michael Frontani at Elon University for his supervision and advice, without which the article could not be published. The author also appreciates numerous reviewers who have helped revise this article.


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Figure 1. Tiger Woods' coverage by media sectors. Copyright by Pew Research Center Publications

Figure 1

Figure 2. Lead newsmakers' coverage. Copyright by Pew Research Center Publications

Figure 2

Figure 3. Tiger Woods' brand association map—Post controversy. Copyright by Nielsen Wire.

Figure 3

Figure 4. Tiger Woods' brand association map—Golf back in play. Copyright by Nielsen Wire.

Figure 4

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