by Tim Joyce
Last week the ongoing and irrelevant and silly feud between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia was ratcheted up when Garcia made a stupid, insensitive, and blatantly racist remark about Woods. In response to a question about if hed have dinner with Woods during the U.S. Open, Garcia said, Well have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.
Garcia’s main sponsor, Taylor Made-Adidas Golf, issued a statement that they were continuing to review the matter. Many believe that Garcia will end up losing sponsors.
Each of Garcias sponsors will have to make the decision on whether his remarks represented a relatively innocuous verbal lapse that doesnt rise to the level of withdrawing sponsorship; or, alternatively, that Garcias character doesnt meet the standard of a sponsor. One thing is certain regarding Garcia hes a very wealthy athlete and he will remain financially sound no matter what happens.
If this much attention from a sponsor is being paid to an offhand remark by a golfer, then what are we to think of the numerous and very powerful corporate money-givers to USA Swimming? With the non-stop run of sexual abuse scandals that have been public knowledge for more than three years now, and with heightened attention paid this last week to the sentencing of former Olympic coach Rick Curl, it would seem the right time to question whether major American corporations should be donating to a Congressionally-sanctioned organization that has clearly failed in its ultimate responsibility the protection of young women from physical and emotional harm by the coaches who represent USA Swimming.
The Olympics, to which NBC has paid billions in broadcast rights fees, smother the viewer with hackneyed and syrupy profiles of countless athletes. Their struggles over adversity provide the context in which the network (and the U.S. Olympic Committee, including USA Swimming) wishes to portray the Games: as shining examples of the best sports have to offer.
But what actually are the networks and corporations endorsing? If a corporation is sponsoring, say, a Michael Phelps then aren’t they by default supporting the organization that trained Phelps and all the others?
Here is the list of sponsors who fund USA Swimming:
Mutual of Omaha
Over the next several days I will be contacting all the above-listed companies and querying them on whether they plan to continue with funding USA Swimming in light of the sex abuse scandals.
As I embark on this project, remember that Kellogg, one of the most iconic American corporations, dropped its sponsorship of Michael Phelps after he was caught taking a few bong hits in 2008. Lets see if AT&T and the others who currently fund USA Swimming deem the molestation of countless young women a more serious offense then a some marijuana tokes at a party.