Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Nike just did it again. The king of sports apparel and its marketing department has stirred
the pot and ruffled some feathers with their latest ad featuring Tiger Woods. After winning
at Bay Hill on Monday, Tiger reclaimed the top spot in the world rankings, the first time he'd
been number one since 2010. Almost as soon as Tiger tapped in on 18 for the 77th win of his
career, Nike rolled out an ad with a crouching Tiger trying to read the line of his putt. Over it
was a line in big white letters that made a sudden impact:

                                  WINNING TAKES CARE OF EVERYTHING

Millions of people around the country interpreted that as all the wins by Tiger and his status as
the number one player in the world, were enough to cover up the ugly blemishes of a sex scandal
that destroyed his marriage and sullied his reputation. The negative press, lies, deceit, and the
pain and suffered bestowed on his ex-wife, Elin, were supposed to magically disappear, because
after all, winning takes care of everything. There was definitely a tinge of sliminess to it, that's
for sure.

Keep in mind, Tiger has used this statement about winning often, and as far back as 2009, the
year before he hit that fire hydrant in his SUV and all the sordid details of his infidelity came
spewing out. Keep in mind, this was Nike doing what they always do, attempting to make a big
splash, while walking the tight rope. Phil Knight and the big swoosh have done that for as far
back as I can remember. They throw caution to wind and go for the grand slam. Lately, they've
struck out with some of their slogans when some of their high profile clients had trouble with
their moral compasses.

Oscar Pistorius was a Nike client whom they featured in an ad that said, "I am the bullet in
the chamber." Ooops. That didn't work out too well, did it? Nike was a big supporter of Lance
Armstrong and his Livestrong Foundation. They did a commercial years ago in response to all
those who questioned Amstrong's "cleanliness". Armstrong said, "What am I on? I'm on my
bike six hours a day, what are you on?" Well, it turns out Lance was on much more than his
Cervelo. Michael Vick was "Mr. Electric", trouble was, he was electrocuting his own dogs.

Yep, the big swoosh has been getting burned big-time, but they just keep getting back in the
box to swing for the fences. Now, they've teed up  the "Winning Takes Care Of Everything"
slogan and a lot of people are hacking away at it. Tiger was enjoying some serious good mojo.
He came out with Lindsey Vaughn and is atop of the golf world again. Now, there is this little controversy created by Nike.

But are they stirring things up or just speaking the truth? Anybody in the sports world knows
that winning can indeed, take care of everything. Rick Pitino and the administration at Louisville
certainly think that. Several years ago, Pitino embarrassed himself and the University of
Louisville by having an extra-marital affair where he allegedly got a woman pregnant and
"allegedly" paid for her to have an abortion.

At most places of employment, Pitino probably would've been terminated, but not at Louisville.
You see, the basketball program, if really successful, helps in keeping the non-revenue sports
on campus, afloat. In short, they pay the bills. Pitino is a great coach and has the team on the
path to a national championship. Financially, that could mean a huge windfall for the school
in terms of tickets, merchandise, and donations from alumni and boosters. Athletic director Tom Jurich knows how valuable a coach like Pitino can be to the bottom line of the department.

So what did he do with Pitino and the moral clause in his contract? Um, he basically looked
the other way, because after all, winning takes care of everything. If Pitino didn't make the
NCAA tournament every year and have his team ranked high in the rankings, Louisville would probably have fired Pitino on the spot where he committed a three-second violation (according to
the woman), But no, Pitino can win! And winning takes care of everything. Nobody seems to
bring up Pitino's infidelity anymore, do they?
Winning takes cares of everything may not  be a great message to send young people, which
is a large part of Nike's demographics. But unfortunately, a lot of it is the truth and a good part
of our society believes it.

In professional and college sports, winning is king and trumps everything else. Do you think
fans care about steroid and cheating scandals if their team is the one hoisting the Lombardi
Trophy at the end of the year? Do you think fans of the Miami Heat cared about all the drama
LeBron James created in his first two years in South Beach? Hell, no. He brought home the title
and that took care of everything.

Ok, ok. So winning might not take care of everything, but it sure takes care of a lot.

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