The Collapse of Sports Marketing

October 30, 2007

Just how many sports stars will implode in the media before the sports industry sustains permanent damage to its ability to leverage brands? With seemingly constant scandals in the sporting world in recent years, it has become evident that celebrity status makes some sports stars think they are above the law. From football players accused of dog fighting, to doped up bicyclists, to cheating referees, to a never ending supply of steroids in baseball, to illegal gun possession charges. Where will it end? And just what is the effect of all this on sports brands?

the past five years or so, stricter guidelines and punishments have been established in the sporting world to ensure that this type of behavior does not continue. In spite of it all, serious transgressions still occur, and even seem to be growing in frequency and repulsion. Although this concept may create chaos among the sporting world, expulsion from the sport might make the appropriate impact on transgressors. Think about the profound impact it would have when it dawns on players that they are not above the law, and should abide by the rules set by their sport!

An excellent example of this happened in 1919 with the Chicago White Sox baseball team, which banned eight of their players from playing baseball after learning that the team members threw games during the World Series. Remembered only as the "Black Sox Scandal" nowadays, consequences like this would make a profound impact on the entire sports industry.

Some changes are already in effect, as sponsors are dropping trouble players. However, if the sporting world does not make some more drastic changes soon, some fans may not come back. In essence, trouble players are corrupting the image of sports by transgressing the law and are endangering the very brand of the sports industry.

As brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, VISA and even Lenovo are creating innovative ad campaigns for the Olympics, I'm sure the potential for scandal is on their minds - a brand associated with scandal is a tainted brand in the minds of a consumer.

Remember that sports are a reflection of our national brand. Do we really want to be known as a culture that does not respect the rules? It is high time all sports get control of their players. It will not only impact the sports marketing industry but is a matter of national interest.



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