Are pro athletes responsible for the products they endorse? British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver thinks so and is bashing David Beckham for representing companies like Pepsi and Burger King. At the start of the Olympic Games, it’s a controversial, yet good point: Athletes should not enter into endorsement deals with junk food companies–no matter how lucrative the deal is. It’s just wrong and irresponsible.
Published this week in the UK Times newspaper, Oliver signed a letter that basically bashes Beckham and any other athlete who promote sugar and fat-laden foods in exchange for lucrative endorsement deals.
The letter starts off by bringing up the importance of the Olympic Games:
On the eve of the London Olympics we, a group with a vested interest in improving the health and wellbeing of young people, express our grave concern about this trend.
It goes on to say that athletes should know better than to enter into sponsorships with junk food companies:
We believe it is wrong for athletes to encourage the excessive consumption of such items, which are fuelling poor health and obesity. David Beckham is a great sportsman, yet he has endorsed Pepsi. What about the impact of Gary Lineker’s association with Walkers crisps? Or the partnership between Mars and the FA?”
The letter also reminds athletes that they have a responsibility to serve as healthy role models:
With one in three children in Britain overweight or obese by the age of nine, we have a public health crisis that requires urgent intervention. We would ask athletes to be very conscious of the effect their endorsements may have on the future lives of youngsters.
All very good points. Olympic and pro athletes should know better and take more responsibility for the products they endorse. Part of being an elite-level athlete means you serve as a role model, like it or not. Having exposure and influence just goes with the territory. If you don’t want to be a positive example in the world, choose another career. Because it’s just sad when money trumps being a healthy role model for our kids.
Do you agree?