Monday, July 10, 2017

Tennis’ Tomic Loses Sponsor Over Comments

Tennis’ Tomic loses sponsor over comments
Bernard Tomic did not have a very happy Wimbledon. First, he was knocked out of the tournament in the first round. Then things really took a turn for the worse. In a news conference after the loss, Tomic said some things that raised the ire of tournament officials.


In a strange and self-defeating – if honest – time in front of reporters, Tomic confessed he was “bored” during the match and “just couldn’t find any motivation” to try in this year’s event. Tomic raised some eyebrows, but then he dropped some jaws when he admitted calling a medical timeout, not for legitimate reasons, but because he wanted to break his opponent’s momentum.

The comments earned him a $15,000 fine from Wimbledon officials and, to date, at least one sponsor has dropped the 24-year-old Australian pro. Tomic’s racket sponsor, Head, issued the following statement after the press conference: “We were extremely disappointed with the statements made at Wimbledon by one of our sponsored athletes, Bernard Tomic. His opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism, and respect for the game… Therefore, we have decided to discontinue our collaboration with Bernard Tomic.”

This scenario could seriously mar Tomic’s young career. On the court, he hasn’t made it to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tourney since 2011, when he lost to Novak Djokovic. At the time, he was an 18-year-old phenom and one of the promising young faces on the tournament circuit. Now, a mere six years later, Tomic’s stock is sliding. After reaching a personal zenith or number 17 in the world, Tomic has fallen to number 59.

Neither fans nor sponsors wanted to hear he just doesn’t really care about the game anymore. That’s not to say he isn’t a great tennis pro. He is, but this is a money game, and sponsorship's are both hard to come by and difficult to keep. You need to win, and you need to have some star power to bring in the real money. That doesn’t appear to be Tomic’s perspective, however.

In the same interview, he said:
“I feel holding a trophy or doing well … it doesn’t satisfy me anymore … I couldn’t care less if I make a fourth round or if I lose in the first round. Everything is the same. I’m going to play another ten years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again.”

Well, that’s a nice plan, and there could be a lot of truth to it. But all those plans could come crashing down if Tomic doesn’t come around to understanding the public relations aspect of his job. Tennis is one of the ultimate “on an island” sports. You don’t have a team around you to share the glory or the blame. Fans and sponsors are looking at only you. The great ones can manage that pressure. They thrive on it. And, the moment they start taking it for granted, someone younger and hungrier comes along to knock them off their perch. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.

Will Tomic be the next sports star to burn out too soon? If he keeps up this attitude, he will certainly increase his chances to make this self-fulfilling prophecy come true.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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