Here at WordStorm HQ, we get a little bit excited over sport. We were all pretty excited that Sam Stosur won the US Open, devastated that Australia lost against Ireland in the Rugby World Cup, and even more upset that the Dragons lost to the Broncos on Saturday night (ok, so that was just Deb and I).
In some countries, sport is not merely a game; it is a way of life, a religion. Like music, sport is a universal language that removes cultural barriers and unites countries.
Looking at universal sporting events such as the Olympics and The World Cup, it is easy to see the power of sport and the imporatance it plays in some cultures – including Australian.
This said, we can see the power of professional athletes. We see both their personal life and professional careers in the media, and feel as though we can relate to them. Unlike actors, who play a character and create a mysterious off camera persona, sporting stars are ‘just like us’ and are not perceived as glamorous (unlike actors) – merely hard workers.
In poverty-stricken countries in South America, football (soccer) is life – Argentian soccer player Diego Maradonna is a national hero, and Brazilian legend Pele was so respected that he stopped a war when he went to play an exhibition match in Nigeria.
We respect athletes because their careers are based on achievement. Achievement makes them credible, and we see the process they go through (the match, the set, the game, the sprint, the season) to earn their win.
Of course, sporting stars are constantly facing scandals in the media. OJ Simpson, Tiger Woods, Shane Warne and Matty Johns are all sporting stars whose careers were ruined by scandal. Like actors, sporting stars are constantly in the tabloids, which reflects how much they are in demand.
Here at WordStorm, we’ve compiled a list of the most PR-friendly sporting stars we know, and why we think they are so likeable. Enjoy!
- Roger Federer Arguably the world’s most likeable athlete, Federer has the record for most Grand Slams won in tennis history. Humble and hard working Federer is also the face of Rolex and Lindt, and has a million dollar contract with Nike.
- Tiger Woods (pre affair days) The world’s first sporting billionaire, and the greatest golfer of all time made Tiger Woods in high demand and extremely credible when endorsing brands before his affair scandal became public. Woods’ billion dollar fortune emerged with several endorsements, including Nike, Gatorade, Gilette, Accenture, Tag Heuer and EA Sports (Electronic Arts). In 2010, Tiger Woods lost $22 million in endorsements when many of his sponsors pulled their campaigns with him after his affair scandal.
- Michael Jordan In 2010, Michael Jordan was ranked as the most likeable athlete of all time, due to his loyalty to the Chicago Bulls, exceptional capabilities and sheer hard work. Although he is retired, he still holds a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike, who produce his popular shoe line ‘Air Jordans’. He was considered a hero in Chicago and also endorsed a few local/regional businesses, including Chevrolet Chicago and currently owns a restaurant there.
- David Beckham The most popular Brit athlete at the moment, David Beckham and his wife Victoria are a brand. Not only does Beckham endorse Adidas and Armani, and have his own fragrance line with Victoria, but he is also a family man who loves showing off his tattoos of his children’s names. Sigh.
- Rafael Nadal Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal is a hero in Spain. Known for his sweatbands, long hair and signature catch phrase ‘Vamos Rafa’ (come on Rafa), Nadal is the face for Mapfre, Spain’s largest insurance company, Kia Motors, French racket company Babelat and Nike.
- Sam Stosur Our very own Sam Stosur is the dark horse in tennis. Recently winning the US Open against World Number 1 Serena Williams, Stosur is proving to be making her mark on the international tennis scene. Perhaps what has made her so respected is her professional attitude and good sportsmanship, particularly towards Serena Williams’ outburst in the match. In addition to this, she arrived back home to Brisbane after a long flight smiling, signing autographs and happily doing interviews for media. Now that’s a good sport!
- Layne Beachley Layne is one of the finest professional surfers in the world, yet seems so cool and grounded. She has her own charity, the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation which aims to help women and girls achieve their dreams.
- Giaan Rooney Although she’s retired, Giaan is still one of the most likeable female Australian athletes at the moment. She won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and was appointed captain of the Australian national swimming team after Grant Hackett retired. She is now happy engaged, and frequently pops up in womens magazines such as New Idea and Woman’s Day.
- Maria Sharapova At the top of the Forbes list for the highest paid female athletes of 2010 is Maria Sharapova. The tennis star has endorsed a number of brands, including Nike, Sony Ericcson, Tiffany and Co, Evian, Colgate, Motorola and Palmolive, clocking up $24.5 million in endorsement deals in 2010. She is loved for being a perfect mix of sporty and girly, and is a style icon as much as she is a tennis star.
Love, Tash and the Stormettes xxx