Nike chief says Woods indiscretion a minor blip on glorious golf career

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Washington, Dec.15 (ANI): Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight has described the indiscretions of Tiger Woods as a minor blip on what has otherwise been a brilliant golf and sporting career.

He said that risking potential scandal is "part of the game" when signing athletes to represent products.

"I think he's been really great. When his (Woods) career is over, you'll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it now," Knight said in an interview.

Knight said that as of now Nike had no plans to end its partnership with Woods.

According to the Washington Post, when consulting giant Accenture tied itself to Tiger Woods six years ago, there was perhaps no more reliable brand in sports.

Now, in the wake of Woods's admission of infidelity and his subsequent leave from tournament golf, Accenture has dropped Woods as its spokesman and AT andT is evaluating its relationship with the world's best golfer, the clearest indications that corporations are being cautious regarding their links to Woods.

It appears Woods's image has been damaged among the general public as well.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more than four in 10 Americans hold an unfavorable view of Woods, whose mere appearance in tournaments has fundamentally changed the perception of the events since he first turned pro in 1996.

The poll also shows that more than a third of Americans -- whether they count themselves as golf fans or not -- say they believe companies should not continue to use Woods to endorse their products and services.

Earlier this year, Forbes magazine identified Woods as the first athlete with more than a billion dollars in career earnings, and his corporate relationships annually bring in far more money than he makes on the PGA Tour.

Perhaps his most identifiable-and certainly his longest-lasting -- corporate bond has been with Nike, which introduced him with a well-received "Hello World" campaign when he turned pro.

The Post-ABC poll shows that the public is likely considering Woods's personal conduct when evaluating its opinion of the 14-time major champion.

In a random national sample of 1,003 adults conducted by phone last Thursday through Sunday, 43 percent said they view Woods unfavourably. More than one in four viewed him in a "strongly" negative light.

That represents a significant drop-off in popularity for Woods. Eighty-eight percent of respondents to a Gallup/CNN poll in 2000 viewed Woods "favourably," and as recently as June 2005, a Gallup poll put that rating at 85 percent.

Men tilt favourably toward Woods (46 percent favourable, 41 unfavourable), while women generally have a more negative view (39 percent favourable, 45 unfavourable). Among those who count themselves as golf fans, Woods fares a little better, with 62 percent seeing him favourably, but 37 percent now viewing him negatively.

Whether Woods can rebuild his brand-both in the corporate world and with the public-remains to be seen. (ANI)

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