ESPN’s sideline reporter Erin Andrews caught some heat last month with it was announced that she signed an endorsement contract with Reebok.But as the New York Times revealed today, she’s not the first or last of ESPN’s on-air talent to sign a shoe contract. She’s not even the only one on her own program. All three members of ESPN’s man College Gameday team have deals with Nike.
(And they spend the whole show sitting behind desks!)
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso all have deals with the shoe giant that mostly involve speaking engagements and public appearances. (They don’t wear Nikes on air.) Fowler says he is ending his arrangement to avoid “perception” issues, but honestly we don’t see what the big deal is.
Any sports announcer with any kind of name recognition gets offered sponsorship deals. ESPNers like Chris Berman and Dick Vitale have promoting brands for years. The idea that the folks who bring us our sports everyday are completely untainted by bias is a fantasy that should not be indulged.
Andrews is supposed to be a “reporter” and therefore more objective than some of her colleagues, but unless her job involves actual reporting on Nike or apparel companies (a rare occurrence on the sidelines) a conflict of interest is hard to come by.
The only real issue (as pointed out by go-to ESPN expert James Andrew Miller) is that ESPN doesn’t appear to have any consistent policy on who can endorse what and when and how. But the fact that all ESPN employees are not created equal is not a surprise.
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