You may recognize the logo below. It’s one of the most respected sports franchises in the world with an owner who is universally known for being a nice, generous man and committed sports owner.
The Red Wings are the team and Mike Ilitch is the owner. The Amway logo is on the team’s practice jerseys.
How about the gentleman below?
A case study in perseverance; deeply religious; involved in noble causes; a three-time Super Bowl participant, two-time NFL MVP and probable Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner works for Amway promoting their nutrition products.
One of the founders of Amway, Richard DeVos, is the well-liked and philanthropic owner of the Orlando Magic, a consistently successful NBA franchise.
The Mets have reached agreement for Amway to be a sponsor. Yet because it’s the Mets and the media took Amway’s business model as a “pyramid” scheme, the perception became a reality. It was repeatedly said, therefore it must be true. None other than Mike Francesa, in his customary flying off half-cocked without knowing what he’s talking about, doled out authoritative advice based on nothing and said the Mets should consider advertisers like Disney.
Walt Disney was affiliated with American interest groups in the 1940s that were considered anti-Semitic. How would that play out today and is that better or worse than Amway?
How about, for some context, we look at the beacon-like franchises in sports today and list some of their sponsors, searching for signs of wrongdoing, real or not.
The New England Patriots and New York Yankees have Bank of America as a sponsor. In many ways what Bank of America has done in the interest of their shareholders and amassing cash was worse than anything the Wilpon family is accused of doing with the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Manchester United has Nike as a sponsor. Nike has long been accused of using child labor to make their products.
The point isn’t to perform a rudimentary websearch to find examples of other teams whose business dealings could be put under scrutiny and presented as an example of wrongdoing. All companies can have their inner workings scrutinized specifically to find evidence of moral repugnance and used to cast them as “evil.” But facts shine a light on reality. The Mets are not doing anything wrong by going into business with Amway. The current positives with the franchise—Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud—are referenced with a caveat implying, “but it’s the Mets, so they’ll screw something up. Oh, and they’re in business with Amway. AMWAY!!!!”
It’s a manufactured controversy by the ignorant and those with an agenda.
Perhaps after the smoke clears and the media finds a story that they think is even more salacious, this truth will be pointed out as an “oh, yeah,” mention in the lower corner of a newspaper or website, but it’s the splash that’s remembered and not the droplets in its aftermath. The Mets’ image of cluelessly evil like a buffoonish villain from Austin Powers sells, therefore it will continue as long as it remains useful to the narrative whether it’s accurate or not.