Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Athletes and Epidemics

In America people tend to hold athletes up as role models. Somebody to look up to.  Somebody that’s a larger-than-life superhuman.  We have seen how this can be detrimental and create much more bad than good.  We have also seen how this can be used for good, but not really on a widespread level.  Is there a way that this power over society can be harnessed to reverse an epidemic?  If athletes fully bought into the cause, could we turn the tables on obesity?

Last week Adam Schefter tweeted that Peyton Manning signed on with Papa Johns to own 21 stores in the Denver area.  A profitable business venture I’m sure and a trend that is quite common among professional athletes. 

Of course we all know the lack of positive nutritional benefit from a Papa Johns pizza.  Although America is not obese solely because of the mass produced excuse of pizza that Papa Johns produces, it is simply a cog in the entire problem.  It is companies like Papa Johns that value the dollar over the customers that are the problem. 

We generally feel like the situation is out of our control.  The people that think that way are dead wrong.  The customer is in complete control.  If people take a stand and refuse to buy a product, then that company won’t last very long selling an unsellable product.  It’s supply and demand.  If the customer doesn't demand a product, then why would a company supply it?

For some reason, people don’t feel this way.  Either they don’t have the discipline to follow through with their beliefs or they are simply uneducated about the other options out there.  This is exactly where an athlete endorser comes in.

Say Peyton Manning invested in 21 natural food stores or 21 vegan restaurants.  Is it fair to say that the same people who would be inclined to try Papa Johns because of Manning’s influence would also be inclined to try any healthy option that were endorsed and owned by Manning?  I think to some extent it would be although it’s tough to say how much.

Maybe my view is a little too idealistic.  I think that a widespread change in mentality and thinking is possible with the proper public relations.  It would take dedication and a complete buy-in from the opinion leaders (in this case the athletes).  If enough of the right people preach it, then anything is possible.  As a society we need to be more disciplined and not let the dollar dictate our every move.  You have to be blind to not see what kind of corruption the dollar has created.

Basically we have seen athletes fuel the corporate culture of greed for too long.  We need big time influential names to pass along the new messages and reroute the nation’s thinking. Their messages put us here in the first place, now it’s time to turn it around.  It's time for athletes to see more than the dollar figure in their endorsement contracts; they need to look at the values and beliefs of the companies as well.  We need our game-changers on the field to be game-changers off the field too.

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