17 March 2010
Keeping your eyes on the ball
Sports stars can hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Image © iStockphoto.
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Sports stars are in the media daily – but not always for the best of reasons. High-profile athletes are increasingly likely to be the focus of intense media attention for doing something illegal, immoral, outrageous or socially unacceptable.
These negative player and team episodes can make the lead news story and, at the same time, put into question the whole relationship between a sponsor and the sporting franchise in which it has invested.
Recent research conducted at RMIT University by Bradley Wilson, Dr Con Stavros and Dr Kate Westberg has highlighted the impact of these episodes.
Dr Stavros said: "Fundamentally the whole relationship between a sponsor and a sporting entity has changed because of the media scrutiny such events generate.
"Not only do sporting organisations need to be prepared to handle what is almost considered inevitable, they must avoid being ultimately left contractually disadvantaged.
"At the heart of the matter is frank and open communication including a desire to educate players about shared objectives," he said.
Sponsors, who often perceive their sponsorship as part of their corporate social responsibility commitment, need to be realistic about what may occur with both sports stars and teams and ensure that they convey their expectations and sensitivities clearly.
RMIT researcher Mr Wilson said: "While some sports appear to be more tarnished than others, with multiple crises and media inspection, negative incidents in any context do ripple across the sporting industry as a whole and do broader damage.
"This is particularly important where sponsors are dealing with public monies or are seen to be performing below financial expectations in general.
"Protecting branded assets needs careful strategic management."