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Livestrong's Naming-Rights Deal With Sporting K.C. Ending After Just Two Years
Published January 16, 2013
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POINTING FINGERS: In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes the franchise now “must deal with real off-the-field defeat,” as team execs have been “essentially perfect in the decisions that matter until this one.” Their “big bet on Lance Armstrong is now officially blown to bits, and for an added kick to the crotch, it’s Armstrong’s old Livestrong foundation that hit the eject button.” Sporting’s leaders “didn’t go into this partnership blind,” as they “knew Armstrong was under suspicion but hoped Livestrong’s brand was strong enough to continue its mission of fighting cancer without him.” Mellinger: “As it turns out, Sporting looks the fool. No matter how much they try to separate Armstrong’s disgrace from Livestrong’s nobility, the liar and the charity he started are like Siamese twins. ... With hindsight, Sporting’s mistakes were the product of gullibility and idealism run amok.” They were “star-struck by Armstrong’s fame and hungry for the potential of the partnership, which not only clouded their thinking in the beginning but pushed them to hang on for too long” (K.C. STAR, 1/16).
ON THE DOWN LOW: In a special to the N.Y. TIMES, Claudio Gatti notes as Armstrong begins confessing to doping during his career, some critics “have seized on another possible dynamic at play throughout sports: companies that endorse athletes might prefer to stand by quietly if they know an athlete is doping, appreciating the benefits of his success rather than moving to expose their pitchman.” Former cyclist Jörg Jaksche said, “For the sponsors, this system has no downside. If nobody is caught doping, they gain all the commercial benefits of the visibility generated by great performances. If somebody is caught, they have a swift exit strategy” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/16).
LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: Armstrong's reported admission to Oprah Winfrey that he doped was fodder for the late-night talk show hosts last night. NBC's Jay Leno, ABC's Jimmy Fallon and CBS' David Letterman, as well as Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, all commented on the controversy.