Update on Michael Phelps
Follow up to the photo of Michael Phelps’ illegal drug use:
Michael Phelps just took a hit again, this time to his bank account. Kellogg decided to discontinue their sponsorship of the Olympic record-setting athlete because they do not believe his actions well-represent their company. The cereal company appeals to families and believes that Michael Phelps’ behavior is “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”
The choice to not renew the contract led losses from more than just Phelps. Kellogg already had thousands of cereal boxes printed with the Michael Phelps image and filled with Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes respectively. They decided not to market the boxes and instead donated all 3,800 pounds of cereal to the San Francisco Food Bank. The donation was enthusiastically accepted in a tough economic crisis that has left thousands of families hungry. There was a waiting list at the food bank because so many people are in need and fewer have the resources to donate. Many of those hungry families will now at least have breakfast. Kellogg will receive a tax deduction of up to $15,000 for the donation after the retail value is calculated.
Phelps suffered another loss, less financial but perhaps more meaningful: delayed swimming eligibility. USA Swimming suspended Phelps for three months which means he will have to stay out of the Grand Prix meet taking place this month where he planned to make his first showing of the competitive season. He now has to wait until May to join the competition. He will also lose $1,750 for each month of his suspension that he would normally receive as a training stipend from the organization. Although he has retained plenty of income through is other endorsements, the loss is a bold statement. There is zero tolerance for illegal drug use in competitive swimming. That’s more than can be said for baseball! The suspension ends before the USA team is selected for the World Championships. The team will be chosen in July.
USA Swimming issued the following statement, “This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming-member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero,”
The statement is controversial because it is an admission of a suspension without an actual violation of rules. Some oppose the decision.
What do you think? Is it fair for Kellogg to cancel their contract because of Phelps’ personal choices? Do you think other sponsors will follow? Do you think they should? What do you think will happen with this situation if Michael Phelps swims better than usual this season? What if he doesn’t?