Scandal/Controversy in Sports
The following will take a look to see if scandal and controversy benefit sports.
Background of Sports Industry and Scandals
Sports in the U.S. is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Companies try to engage with clients by aligning the services and products they offer with this well-known industry via sports funding and endorsement. The benefit of this involvement has been well-recorded in the sports marketing literature (Hughes and Shank, 2005). The effect on business brands in case a scandal surfaces regarding an athletic supporter like a player, coach, or a team however, is less well-known. Several sports scandals, for instance, the rape case surrounding Kobe Bryant and the University of Colorado recruitment scandal raise very serious questions regarding the effect of sports scandals on amateur and professional athletic institutions, participants, sponsors, as well as other stakeholders.
Whereas conventional corporate sports supporters like Nike maintain omnipresence, several other different kinds of organizations are entering the sponsorship game. 65 different organizations representing different categories varying from railroads to athletic wear sponsored the 2004 United States Olympic team at different levels by (Hughes and Shank, 2005). These corporations benefit from providing teams with funding or equipment in exchange for the right to utilize their connection with the team in commercial activities and promotions. There are, however, various risks associated with sponsorship. For instance, what actually happens to the sponsor together with their brand, in case a scandal erupts regarding an athletic endorser?
Sports matches have always been accompanied by some kind of gambling ever since the existence of professional sporting events. Going all the way back to the 1919 World Series, point shaving and match fixing have diluted the purity of sporting events. Various athletes that were found guilty of illegal/immoral behavior took part just to earn some extra cash on the side. Others took because of gambling, alcohol, or drugs addiction. These scandals are not just restricted only to athletes (Alessi, 2014). NBA referees like Tim Donaghy have lost their jobs, guilty of giving away inside information; an assistant coach of the NHL took bets from players, and MLB coaches have been found guilty of stealing money so as to pay off their gambling debts. With globalization of sports, placing a bet on a professional sporting event is now quite simplified. All over the globe, the sports betting industry has grown to almost 500 billion dollars per year, with more than 90% of the European bets placed on European football matches.
Sport Scandal Controversies
From the 1960s, the utilization of performance-boosting drugs has been an issue in college as well as professional sports. Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) entail human growth hormones, stimulants, anabolic steroids, and supplements such as androstenedione that assist the body in the production of testosterone (that boosts physical performance). The fight against PEDs has been a long struggle. An Olympic Medal and Tour de France titles were taken away from Lance Armstrong this year after he admitted to doping in the course of his career (Keller, 2013). Major League Baseball sued Biogenesis of America, leading to the temporary ban of twenty players, including Miguel Tejada of Kansas City Royal, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, and Ryan Braun of Milwaukee Brewers as reported by CNN. In the agent-athlete perspective, corruption is quite rampant. With reference to John Philips, founder of Breakthrough Sports Agency, nearly half of all agents are ready to do whatever it takes to sign a player. Given that the earnings of a sports agent are founded on a fraction fee of the contract salary that they are capable of negotiating for an athlete, the temptation to obscure the rules to sign the best is very strong.
Discrimination has several faces. Homophobia, racism, and gender discrimination are social justice concerns troubling a wide array of aspects in the society, the sporting world included. Whereas open racism in the manner through which sports clubs carry out their business has faded, racism is still existent in sports. Individual athletes, commentators, and fans now display most of racist actions (Keller, 2013). Insider and illicit gambling is not as big of an issue in America as it is in other parts of the globe. Even though the issue persists in the nation, the respective scarcity in gambling in America might be linked to the way past scandals have been dealt with. The eight members of the Chicago White Sox that took part in the well-known rigging of the 1919 World Series were banned from the sport forever.
In quite a captivating exit from the findings of the previous studies, Fisher and Wakefield (1998) studied why losing sports teams’ fans, poorly ranked academic systems alumni, and charity patrons still maintained or even increased their support. They discovered that in quest of positive self-definition, members of both the unsuccessful and successful groups identify with their respective groups for various reasons. Members of successful groups particularly tend to utilize performance as the prevailing factor in their involvement with these groups (Fisher and Wakefield, 1998). On the other hand, members associated with unsuccessful groups had a tendency of focusing on aspects of the group and its members, for instance group domain association and group member attractiveness that were useful to their perception of self and otherwise overlooked information regarding the poor performance of their group. These findings imply that the more occupied group members are with their surroundings and the more attractive their own personalities are; the more likely clients will be able to continue supporting the group in spite of the negative information that surrounds the group or its poor performance.
For instance, let us consider baseball. In spite of the bad publicity, baseball assumed a new lease of life in 1920. Prior to that, it was known as the “Dead-ball era,” due to the absence of homeruns. The Black Sox scandal might not have been an obstacle in baseball’s modernization. In fact, would have resulted to the growing popularity of the league in the 1920s. One of the controversies that have since been revived is the Pete Rose controversy. In the late 1980s, Pete Rose was indicted of betting for and against his own team. Destined for the Hall of Fame and being his team’s manger, he played for all expect one year of his career (Doorty, 2016). He was accused of betting for and against his team while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1989, he was banned from the MLB and denied reinstatement. Rose, who kept applying for reinstatement every single year ever since his ban, finally came clean in his 2004 autobiography My Prison Without Bars. He argued that it is true he betted, but only for his own team. He has spoken out on several instances that he ought to be forgiven as he paid for his mistakes. He signed an agreement in 2015 with Fox, which incorporates him in baseball broadcasts. Rose ought to be reinstated for the value that he is capable of bringing to fans. He holds a fan favorite record that might never be broken. It is not right to ignore one of baseball’s greatest players.
Baseball was threatened again in 1994. Players who were not in agreement with the MLB regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement concluded the season early and went on a strike. This was the 5th time in 22 years that players either had a lockout or a strike, and for the first time since 1904, the World Series was not held. This appeared like an act of war to the fans. Television ratings and attendance dropped and MLB realized a drop in attendance of around 20% in the season of 1995. Chicago Clubs’ Sammy Sosa and St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire raced to break the homerun record of sixty-one homeruns in a single season, which was set by Roger Maris back in 1961 (Doorty, 2016). Both the players were famous homerun hitters and they both broke the record by the end of the season. The race was won by McGwire; he had 70 homeruns while Sosa had 66. In Spring training, it was perceived that the race was going to be between Ken Griffey and McGwire, but Griffey was tied with Sosa by the end of June. Griffey was not capable of keeping up in the following months. Fans were brought back to the games by these homeruns race. In the steroid era and ‘Black Sox’ controversies, baseball acquired fame in times when the game encountered pauses in popularity. Additionally, in times such as the Pete Rose’s expulsion as well as other controversies, the game’s popularity did not plunge. Bearing this in mind, very small changes have been introduced to the game to hasten the games’ pace, or to establish a fresh interest.
Scandals also provide players the chance of revamping or changing their image in a positive manner. In 2003, for instance Kobe Bryant, already an NBA star was accused of sexual assault. This criminal charge was dropped since the supposed victim declined to testify, and a civil suit was settled outside the court. Without any conviction, no side was ever proven wrong. Bryant’s wrongdoing, however, no longer appears to be significant to the public. Bryant went silent after his press conference. In accordance to Drew Rosenhaus, a sports agent, this was the appropriate move. Rosenhaus supposed that Bryant took the right action by admitting to his mistake in committing adultery and strongly defending himself against the charges, but also suggested that Bryant maintains a low profile to restrict or control media coverage on the situation. Kobe Bryant did exactly this, and the media coverage of Bryant’s off-court activities overshadowed his talent in the game (Kennedy, 2010). The exemption to this, which shall be discussed later on, was the coverage of controversies and mistakes faced all through the trial process. These were, however, not under the control of Bryant. After the charges were first filed, Bryant’s name was stripped off Nike’s shoe. They did not publicly affiliate themselves with Bryant, but they explored public opinion via underground methods and back channels. Two years later after the charges had been filed, Nike chose to wholly and publicly stand behind Bryant by introducing a new shoe which bore his name. Coca-Cola and Nike have continued with Bryant’s endorsement deals. Additionally, Bryant was featured in TNT commercials as also on a public service announcement for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He appeared on the front page of the “NBA ’07” video game as well as in an advertisement for the “Guitar Hero World Tour” video game along with other adored American athletes. Bryant’s jersey is also the highest selling in the NBA.
Case: It is October and college basketball season is starting in six weeks. Two of the top three freshmen in the nation, Kentucky’s Enes Kanter and Kansas’ Josh Selby, have no idea if they will qualify to play this season. For Selby’s case, the NCAA is investigating if Selby got any inappropriate favors from his association with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, Robert Frazier. As for Kanter, his Turkish club team officials have claimed that he obtained more than 100,000 dollars in cash and benefits, which would actually make him unable to play in the NCAA (Garg, 2010).
These kinds of scandals surrounding college athletes have become so common that we barely raise an eyebrow any time a fresh one surfaces. The incidence of these claims has clearly demonstrated the fatal blow to big-time college athletics. College athletes generate great amounts of income bur are not given the chance to enjoy the rewards of their hard work. Correcting this particular wrong through adequately compensating college athletes is vital for saving college athletics.
Athletes not getting paid has incentivized and basically led to the creation of the shady underworld of agents, boosters, and recruiters. These corrupt networks do no service to the college game given that they normally prey on the vulnerable kids with fake promises and challenge the legitimate power of mentors and coaches. Most individuals are against paying the college athletes since they view it as anti-ethical to the university’s goal, which is the promotion of education (Garg, 2010). These individuals unfortunately appear to be ignorant to the veracity of the contemporary university, which has turned into a business in everything but name. The occurrence of these scandals displays the need for paying college athletes. which ultimately provides a benefit to both the student and the team by hindering any future scandals. A study conducted by Till and Shimp’s (1998) assessed “negative information” on different nine-point scales including three universal measures of evaluation (positive/negative, favorable/unfavorable, and good/bad); two measures of expertise (qualified/not qualified and knowledgeable/not knowledgeable); two measures of endorser suitability (effective/ineffective and appropriate/not appropriate); and two measures of trust (believable/not believable and trustworthy/not trustworthy). the sum of individual measures then give a representation of an overall outlook toward the endorser. However, the framework in which the negative information took place is not addressed. The distinction is crucial since the discussion regarding what stands for scandalous activity might be swayed by several factors that eventually diminish or enhance the supposed scandalous or “negative” information. If the negative information was misinterpreted, it could provide empathy for the player or team, which could involve future benefits.
The repercussions for both sports sponsors and administrators imply that character matters in the evaluation of an event thought to be scandalous. Efforts by sponsors and administrators to reduce the chances of people taking part in unethical and illegal behavior would be quite helpful in protecting the integrity of both the organization and their brand (Hughes and Shank, 2005). For instance, through the development of hiring and recruitment measures that stress on character, organizations actually minimize the risk of any scandals occurring.
Finally, steroid abuse is an occurrence which damages the integrity of any sport. Policies that aggressively and proactively address means of minimizing the occurrence of steroid abuse are specifically important in minimizing the chances of scandal ruining a brand or an organization. The recent congressional hearings that took place to address steroid abuse in professional sports could actually be a step towards the goal of aggressive policy implementation. In reaction to the negative public feedback, generated by these hearings, the Major League Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, suggested a new steroid policy, which if approved by the Player’s Association, would inflict a mandatory fifty-game suspension on the first-time abusers of steroids, 100-game suspension for the second-time offenders, and a lifetime ban for the third-time offenders. However, the effect of scandals on sports remains largely unknown; deeper studies should be conducted on the general potential of positive impacts of scandals currently being observed in the sporting industry.
Alessi. (2014). TheRichest – The World’s Most Entertaining Site. Top 10 Sports Betting Scandals and Controversies – TheRichest. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://www.therichest.com/sports/top-10-sports-betting-scandals-and-controversies/
Doorty, A. (2016). Odyssey. Is Scandal Good for Baseball? Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://www.theodysseyonline.com/are-scandals-good-for-baseball
Fisher, R., & Wakefield, K. (1998). Factors leading to group identification: A field study of winners and losers. Psychology & Marketing, 15(1). Retrieved, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6793(199801)15:1%3C23::AID-MAR3%3E3.0.CO;2-P/abstract
Garg. (2010). The Hoya. Scandals Show Need to Pay College Athletes. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://www.thehoya.com/scandals-show-need-to-pay-college-athletes/
Hughes, S. & Shank, M. (2005). Defining Scandal in Sports: Media and Corporate Sponsor Perspectives. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 14, 207-216. Retrieved, from http://18.104.22.168:8088/2159268/Scandals_in_Sports.pdf
Keller, T. (2013). Shorter University Online. 4 Ethical Issues in Sports that Professionals Need to Know. Retrieved June 20, 2016, from http://online.shorter.edu/business/ethical-issues-sports-management/
Kennedy, J. (2010). Image Reparation Strategies in Sports: Media Analysis of Kobe Bryant and Barry Bonds. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 1(1). Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/09KennedyEJSpring10.pdf
Till, B., & Shimp. (1998). Endorsers in Advertising: The Case of Negative Celebrity Information. Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 67-82. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913367.1998.10673543
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