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Golf Bracing for Aftereffects of Tiger Woods Scandal

Posted December. 09, 2009 23:15,   


In sports, a saying goes that one superstar feeds all of the rest.

A prime example is former NBA superstar Michael Jordan. While playing for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was worth an estimated 10 billion U.S. dollars. The league enjoyed one of its most successful times when he was on the court.

When he retired for the second time in 1999, however, the NBA was on the decline. The league did everything it could to nurture new players to fill his shoes but with little success.

Tiger Woods has the same grand role in golf. His influence on the PGA Tour and the golfing industry is so enormous that the fear is growing that his alleged extramarital affairs will negatively affect the sport. His long-time sponsors are also perplexed by his unfortunate situation.

PepsiCo, which produces the sports drink Gatorade, said yesterday that it will scrap the drink Gatorade Tiger Focus. The company claimed the decision had been discussed several months earlier and had nothing to do with the Woods scandal, but the timing of the announcement is fueling suspicion.

Prime-time TV commercials featuring Woods have been replaced with new ones without him since the scandal broke out. This could threaten his lucrative endorsements, which earn him more than 100 million U.S. dollars a year.

When Woods was in a slump or absent for a long time, the tour suffered sharp drops in sponsorship, audience and TV ratings.

The average rating of a tournament in which Woods played is more than six percent, more than double that of events without him.

“Woods is the tour,” said Kenny Perry, a professional PGA golfer, warning that it will be a big loss to lose such a star player.

Heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, cycling star Lance Armstrong, and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher were also superstars who held major sway over their sports.

When Korean slugger Lee Seung-yup set the Asian home run record with 56 in 2003 while playing for the Samsung Lions of Korea, he helped generate more than 100 billion won (83 million U.S. dollars) in economic value through higher TV ratings and stadium ticket sales.

In the heyday of female golfer Pak Se-ri, the Korean market for the golfing industry grew exponentially.

Kim Jong, a sports industry professor at Hanyang University in Seoul, said, “Sports superstars have an enormous impact on their fields because fans identify the sports they play and the products they sponsor.”