Scandal in Sports: Media and Corporate Sponsor Perspectives

Stephanie Hughes
Matt Shank

The United States sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Corporations attempt to curry favor with consumers by aligning their products and services with this popular industry through sports sponsorship and endorsement opportunities. The upside to this association is well-documented in the sports marketing literature. Less well known however, is the impact on corporate brands when a scandal erupts around an athletic endorser such as a team, coach, or player. Numerous sports scandals such as the recruiting scandal at the University of Colorado or the Kobe Bryant rape case raise serious questions about the impact of sports scandals on both professional and amateur athletic institutions, sponsors, participants, and other constituents. The purpose of the present research study is twofold: (1) to attempt to identify aspects of a sports scandal that influence our perception of the impact of the event and (2) to understand the short and long-term effects of sports scandals on the consumers' affiliation with the sponsors' products, sports organization, and with the sport entity involved in the scandal.