For the first time in more than a decade, Tiger Woods is not at the top of the annual Sports Q Scores list, upon which hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of advertising and marketing decisions are based. Woods has shared the top spot in the Sports Q rankings with Michael Jordan for as long as anyone at Marketing Evaluations, the Manhasset, N.Y., research firm that owns and has operated the franchise since 1963, can recall.
However, following his sex scandal, Woods dropped to 25th on the list. His positive Q Score dipped almost 33 percent, from a 44 to a 30, and his negative Q Score, reflecting those surveyed who said they don’t like Woods, more than doubled, from a 15 to a 39.
Woods’ precipitous decline in “likability” left Arnold Palmer as the highest ranking golfer. As Tiger fell, Arnie rose, increasing his positive Q from 31 to 39, while Jack Nicklaus’ likability score rose from 29 to 36. The top active golfer is still Tiger. His 30 score is followed by Phil Mickelson’s 24.
Can Tiger be rehabilitated in the court of public opinion?
“People are people, so the degree of success on the field increases likability,” said Steven Levitt, president of Marketing Evaluations, citing Brett Favre’s increase from 26 to 36 in likability after leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game. “For someone [like Woods] who had a high degree of awareness, it will take a long time to get back to where they were, if at all.”
With the survey in the field just after the conclusion of the Winter Games in Vancouver, the Olympics made a big splash. Shaun White’s 41 was even with NFL icon John Madden, and the highest ranking achieved by an action sports athlete in the survey, although it does not uniformly measure every athlete, every year. Apolo Anton Ohno’s 37 tied him with NBA legends Magic Johnson and Julius Erving, and that probably would never happen in a non-Winter Olympics year.
Retired players continue to score high. In addition to Magic and Dr. J, the top baseball player was Nolan Ryan with a 38; Cal Ripken Jr. had a 36. Among other MLBers, the biggest surprise may have been the not-so-active Ken Griffey Jr. increasing his positive Q from 24 to 31. “That defies believability,” Levitt said.
Meanwhile, Albert Pujols’ score went from 23 to 24, and Derek Jeter’s score increased from a 20 to a 26.
Among active NBA players, LeBron James’ 34 topped the list. Kobe Bryant’s likability increased from 19 to 24, but his negative Q remained at 35.
The retired Richard Petty tops the list of motorsports “names” at 31. Danica Patrick is the top active driver measured with a 29, up from 22, although Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 28, “is not statistically a significant difference,” according to Levitt.
As always, Wayne Gretzky was the top-rated NHLer, with a 33. Top active players were the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller at 31 — again showing the influence of the Olympics. Henrik Zetterberg at 28 was ahead of league icons Sidney Crosby (24) and Alex Ovechkin (23).
The survey was in the market long enough to track some of the effect of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s recent behavior. His positive scored dropped from 23 to 19, and his negative Q increased more than 50 percent, from 20 to 31.
Among tennis stars, Serena Williams tops sister Venus in likability by a slim 25 to 23 score. Roger Federer also scored a 25, while John McEnroe got a 24.
In a non-Summer Olympics year, swimming champion Michael Phelps’ positive score was down only slightly, from 32 to 30, while his negative score stayed at 19. Tony Hawk’s 29 was the second-highest rated score among action sports athletes.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW: With the MLB All-Star Game close to Hollywood this year, we’re expecting a Tinseltown feel. Already in the can is an MLB-themed “Price Is Right” Showcase Showdown that will air July 2 on CBS. MLB sponsors and licensees have been incorporated. The prize package includes licensed merchandise and products to create an all-star-themed game room, along with tickets to various All-Star Week events.
“Price Is Right” host Drew Carey welcomed Angels five-time all-star pitcher Chuck Finley to the set, who introduced the all-star-themed Showcase to the contestants.
Among the integrated sponsors is Taco Bell, which is providing tickets to Taco Bell All-Star Sunday while giving everyone in the studio audience $2 Meal Deals. State Farm provided tickets to its Home Run Derby on July 12; InterContinental Hotels Group provided a three-night stay at Holiday Inn in Anaheim; and MasterCard provided a $1,000 gift card.
Licensees teaming to create “the ultimate All-Star themed Game Room experience” include Dreamseats, Imperial International, Fathead, Ballpark Classic, Majestic Athletic, Gametime and Twins.
The winner will receive tickets to the 2010 All-Star Game at Angel Stadium on July 13 as well as to various festivities during All-Star Week, like FanFest. The winner also will conduct a meet-and-greet with legends and celebs during the Legends & Celebrities Softball Game and receive game-used memorabilia.
Terry Lefton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.