Sponsorships have saved and ruined the Olympics

A fun read over at ESPN from Darren Rovell on the top 10 worst Olympic marketing moments.  Sponsorships involve risk and over the past twenty years, sporting goods manufacturers have clearly become more risk tolerant in placing their bets.  Beginning with Barcelona 1992, we have entered into the corporate-era of the Olympic Games.

As recent occurences of Olympic games have struggled with financial concerns, corporate dollars have crept into more and more aspects, even changing rules on amateur status.  The effects of these dollars have also meant rising expectations of athletes, to the extent that anything less than perfection seems disappointing.  Barcelona was the first appearance of US Basketball’s Dream Team – would anything less than gold be acceptable?  (We blamed it on the "international rules" in Athens).

Rovell’s list includes examples exclusively from the corporate-era Olympic Games.  I think what most people see in today’s athletes is an aspiration to cash in on endorsements.  Prior to the corporate-era, we had the cold war-era games.  Heroes were unexpected and imbued with every-person qualities that kids and adults could aspire to becoming.

So it doesn’t surprise me that media coverage focuses more on the negative than positive stories coming out of Torino.  I see more about Bode’s 0-for-5 than Shani Davis’s medals.  Or more focus on paparazzi story angles than performance highlighted.

You’ve never heard of Shani Davis?  That’s what I’m talking about.

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