The USOC has 15-million reason to love BP and they all contain the name George Washington in it but how many reasons do the athletes have?
It was February 2010 and British Petroleum was about to announce that they were going to become a proud sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
The USOC needed this deal and they needed it badly for they had suffered a great loss when their “shoe-in” candidate, Chicago 2016, did not even make it passed the first round of the International Olympic Committee selection process for the 2016 Games.
To rub salt on the wound, the President of the United States was internationally humiliated by this rejection along side the USOC after flying in on Air Force One from Washington to “close the deal” but instead of “closing the deal” both his charisma and diplomatic skills were questioned in the global press for days.
BP had paid the organization $15-million dollars for this sponsorship deal and obviously part of the deal was to have complete access to US athletes, their likenesses, and their names for commercials and collateral branding for the company.
Then two months later on April 20th, 2010 an oil rig named the Deepwater Horizon exploded creating the worst ecological disaster the Gulf of Mexico has ever seen. An incomprehensible amount of oil continues to flood the Gulf each day and most of the fingers are pointed at BP when in reality this ecological disaster was a “team effort” starting with the federal government all the way down-the-line to the engineers who planned the effort and the people who dug the hole.
Apparently the US Government had granted BP the rights to drill despite the fact that the United States government had no technology nor the expertise to clean up an oil spill of “Biblical proportions” and neither did BP. It is a shame that the USA, also blinded by energy needs and a 40% royalty on every barrel drilled, could not predict the consequences if something went horribly wrong, and as usual, something always goes horribly wrong.
Fast forward to 2012: This disaster is now posing problems for Olympians tied to environmental causes and charities for how credible would an athlete look if they were endorsing an oil company when their particular charity was geared towards ocean health? The USOC is also oblivious to athlete concerns since they will not return BP’s money nor will they allow athletes to exclude themselves from participating with a sponsor they do not support.
It is clear to me that the USOC looks at athletes as nothing more than “branding engines” for our country, their organization, and their own personal gain.
The proof comes to us in an Article by, Eddie Pells, of Associated Press, “…The U.S. Olympic Committee intends to maintain its partnership with BP, hoping the company that provides about $15 million in sponsorship funding through 2012 can find "as quick a solution as possible" to the crisis in the Gulf. …”
No mention is made what they will do if the Gulf cleanup takes weeks, months or years. Just the word hope as they take the money their "branding engines" earned them and spend it on anything but athlete salaries.
Photo: Above BP execs are shown some love by the USOC