PR debacles: What’s wrong with professional sports?

19 September 2007

2007 has been a banner year so far for sports PR debacles.

First, unconfirmed steroid aficionado Barry Bonds, of the San Francisco Giants, became the all-time home run leader after he broke Hank Aaron’s record of 755 dingers back in August. Controversy has swirled around Bond’s ever since his arms and head have grown to almost twice the size since his early playing days in Pittsburgh. Is it steroid use? Or is Bonds stepping on Tony Little’s Gazelle Glider and toning and firming the natural way. Bonds maintains, “This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period.”

Despite the negativity surrounding the Bonds record, major league baseball continues to be America’s favourite past time. Strangely, major league baseball commissioner Bud Selig was not in attendance for Bonds’ record breaking home run, instead he offered Bonds a congratulatory phone call. Perhaps, Selig was advised by MLBs PR wizards to lay low and not be media accessible.

In July, Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick was indicted on charges stemming from his role in owning and operating a dog-fighting ring. Vick, under severe media and fan pressure, owned up to the charges and saw his reputation rightfully ruined. The story became headline news for weeks, however after Vick held a news conference in which he said, “I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player,” the media and the public seemed to have moved on. Was his apology genuine? Or was it the work of a well orchestrated PR campaign to salvage whatever career Vick has left.

On a related front, the note that Vick used at the news conference fetched over $10,000.00 at auction. No word on whether O.J. Simpson was the lucky buyer…  

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