PGA Tour Marketability

Every sports star goes through highs and lows during his or her career. That much is nothing new. We've seen it with the NBA, the NFL, and even the PGA Tour. However, at what point does new technology and an increased ability for the fan to interact directly with a star athlete actually hurt that star's marketability?

In other words, is it possible to suggest that the major sport associations have become too much of a business?

For example, 2010 marked what many are calling the "biggest NBA free agency period in the history of the league", thanks mainly to the numerous big-name players and their expiring contracts. In essence, you cannot turn on any sports channel or station without hearing some mention of where LeBron James will end up, nor will you hear any less than 3 differing opinions to that effect. Next, you can go on to Twitter and read any of the numerous feeds available and learn what the stars themselves are saying about the free agency process. Media outlets are fighting to be the first to break any new rumor on the airwaves, just for the sake of "you heard it here first!".

Everyone is willing to sell the farm in order to get these players to their city, no matter what.

Another example can be seen on the PGA Tour. When Tiger Woods broke onto the scene just over 13 years ago, sponsors and media types were chomping at the bits to get his face on their product. The same can also be seen in the newer stars like Rickie Fowler and Anthony Kim, both of which inking large sponsorship contracts before playing a single professional golf shot. Furthermore, stories have been written in major publications dictating how these young stars are basically hounded for their signatures, often at hours or days at a time.

But what happens when the Golden Goose lays a fat ol' egg? What happens if fate, or an injury, or a legal issue (or worse) causes the once bright star to burn out and fall back down to Earth?

In terms of the PGA Tour, all eyes are on one man's recent struggles with his identity, his game, and his image... and we are not liking what we are seeing. Sponsors have already tugged their tails between their legs and scampered away, almost as quickly as they arrived back in 1996. Even if a struggling player can get his game back on track and start winning again, does public opinion (and the public dollar) really determine whether an athlete can rise back to what he once was?

In essence, major sport superstars are no more than overpaid salesmen (in some cases). And, just as many of us who have worked in sales know, that industry is entirely based on one ideal: What Have You Done For Me Lately? Whenever the top dog struggles, a young buck is right on his or her heels to take over. Suddenly, those athletes who once could do no wrong now face the politics of a "real job".