words // Nick Engvall
It seems you can't turn on the TV or visit any internet news site without seeing news about Tiger Woods or Gilbert Arenas right now. These two athletes have both taken questionable paths in the past couple months, with Tiger finally getting caught up with his enjoyment of women, and Gilbert Arenas getting caught up in a gun case. Sitting back and watching the stories unveil has been overly boring, yet also intriguing thanks to the complete opposite approach that each has taken towards handling their situation. Being that sneakers are always on my brain, I can't help but wonder how the sneaker community views the off-court/off-course actions of these two super stars.
Personally, off-court actions have always heavily influenced who I am a fan of. With that being said though, even the Greatest of All Time (on and off the court in my opinion), Michael Jordan went through a cheating/divorce scandal in his final years with the Washington Wizards. I still consider him a role model, and I obviously still buy his shoes. I think it's safe to say that a majority of the sneaker community would not think twice about Michael's infidelities when purchasing their next pair of Air Jordans. The same can obviously be said about Kobe Bryant, who dealt with his scandal in a "killed it with the blindness of bling" approach. Since then, his game and footwear followers have steadily increased. In fact, he has probably seen the greatest increase in sneaker buyers in the last half decade.
Since Tiger Woods doesn't really have a signature shoe available that appeals to people outside the fairways, it's all speculation as to if sneakerheads would stop buying his shoes or not. Some of his sponsors seem to think he has lost his appeal, as AT&T recently became the third sponsor to drop Tiger's contract since his car accident that landed him on all the headlines. Michael and Kobe made it through their scandals with their endorsement money still in hand. So if history repeats itself, Tiger won't have to worry about Nike dropping him from his endorsement deal as long as he makes it back onto the links sometime in the not-so-distant future. Michael and Kobe addressed the public and owned up to the responsibilities of being role models that comes with being a professional athlete. It's possible that Tiger's stone-faced, one and done acknowledgment approach might be hurting his reputation though.
Gilbert Arenas, has taken a completely different approach to his situation, using Twitter to poke fun at the situation, and also apologize to his fans. Since Arenas has just recently been indefinitely suspended for pulling guns on teammate Javaris Crittenton in the Wizards locker room, the repercussions haven't really been felt. Ironically, David Stern didn't seem to have a problem with the gun incident until Gilbert, trying to make light of his situation, was seen pointing his fingers at his teammates during warm-ups.
Gilbert's efforts in reaching out to his fans through Twitter were entertaining to say the least, to the sneakerheads and journalists that I follow that also follow Arenas that is. Personally I didn't think it was very smart, but he was funny. He must have run out of John Wayne jokes though because his account was recently shut down. Arenas had the foreshadowing down perfectly when he tweeted "they say bad decisions make for great stories...only true if u dont take urself too serious." His lightheartedness seemed to help keep his followers, myself included, from thinking about how unintelligent his actions were.
Whether or not Arenas' endorsement deal with adidas changes is still unknown, as is his return to the league, but it's hard to imagine that it would be affected by his pending gun charges. Somehow sneaker endorsements often times seem to slide through the cracks of the chaos of scandals and we still buy our favorite stars' signature sneaker. Perhaps it is because of the close tie to the fashion or streetwear cultures, that makes it an exception. Maybe there is something that puts basketball stars' sneaker endorsements on a higher level of leniency than other endorsements. One thing is for sure, I'm thankful MJ and Kobe didn't lose their endorsement deals, and as long as the shoes perform on the court, I don't see myself cutting back on any of my favorite players sneakers in the future.
Is there anything an athlete could do in their personal life that would make you consider not buying their sneakers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.