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August 06, 2021

Bad behaviour costs in pro sports

Adored by millions, Cheered by thousands. Fame and fortune.

Then, in a blink of an eye, it all falls apart.

Endorsements are lost. Cheers turn to jeers. All respect is lost.

Sadly, it happens over and over again in the world of professional sports.

From the tree-line fairways and pristine greens of pro golf, to the mountainous climbs of cycling's toughest circuits, to the ball parks that have made baseball our favourite pastime, there's no escaping the spotlight when things go south.

Witness this week's decision by Major League Baseball to suspend 13 players, including New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, for suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

While A-Rod will appeal his 211-game suspension (if denied he wouldn't return to the major leagues until 2015), there's no telling what financial damage this scandal may have done to his career.

Rodriguez, who checked in at #18 on the Forbes list of highest paid athletes in 2012, earns about $29-million a year with a portion coming from his old team the Texas Rangers.

Then there are endorsements. What will happen to them now?

When Tiger Woods fell from grace, it's estimated he lost about $22-million in 2010 alone through lost endorsements and other business deals. 

Gatorade and AT&T were two major sponsors that dropped Woods.

Not unlike his dogged demeanor, Woods has regrouped to once again challenge as the best player in pro sports.

But, Tiger is an unusual case.

Some athletes who have slipped up -- like cycling legend Lance Armstrong -- have not rebounded so well.

A steroid scandal cost MLB slugger Barry Bonds major deals with KFC and MasterCard.

Revelations that Lance Armstrong used PEDs during major races led to him being stripped of his titles and major sponsor Nike pulled back on deals it had forged to support Armstrong's cancer charity Livestrong.

You have to wonder whether some of these large corporations now have second thoughts about sponsoring pro athletes.

Perhaps the money these sponsors dole out in endorsements could be better spent building grass roots sports programs for youth and rehabilitating infrastructure used to provide programs for children.

If these athletes are willing to gamble their reputations for a brief moment in the spotlight or a romp in the hay, then I'm betting the money could be better spent elsewhere.

This way we all benefit in the long run.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

Which athlete caught up in a scandal have you lost the most respect for and why?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...