To sports fans, a losing season is interminably long. Baseball fans must be feeling that way about the drama involving Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and the question of whether he took performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). With each passing day, A-Rod digs himself deeper into a PR hole he has increasingly little chance of climbing out of.
The issue exploded last week after an arbitration panel agreed Rodriguez should serve the longest-ever suspension of a Major League Baseball player for his alleged infractions. On Sunday, a 60 Minutes interview featured purported dope dealer Anthony Bosch, who suggested that A-Rod’s inner circle tried to buy his silence and, when Bosch refused, threatened his life.
Some say it’s too late in the game for a mea culpa from Rodriguez. But the sad truth is that other sports figures, most notably Lance Armstrong, have more than cleared the brush on that path. So many others have come before him – including a dozen other players who admitted they bought drugs from Bosch – that Alex Rodriguez would be just another name on a depressingly expanding list.
THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Alex Rodriguez. Admitting he used PEDs won’t save his career or legacy, but it’s his only option to stop the onslaught of negative press and repair his image.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when to fold. With this scandal breaking in the twilight of his career, Alex Rodriguez’s dreams of holding homerun records and joining the Baseball Hall of Fame are dashed. An admission of guilt may give the public a figure they can eventually forgive. All that’s left of Rodriguez’s image is who he is as a person. Admitting he used and apologizing would at least give us someone who went out appearing accountable and contrite, rather than a deluded egomaniac who denied his complicity until the bitter, bitter end.