TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Lisa Napoli: Even those of us who don’t care a whit about sports love to see the records broken, especially when they’re broken by guys over 40. But the wait for Barry Bonds to hit enough homers to equal and then break Hank Aaron’s milestone, that’s a bit more complicated. He got two runs closer last night, but Business of Sports commentator Diana Nyad says the allegation bonds used performance enhancing drugs still looms over him.
Diana Nyad: The people on the real inside of the game, so we’re really talking the players: They admire him. His teammates love him. So on the inside of the game, they are going to applaud, they’re gonna run out of that dugout, they’re gonna carry him around on their shoulders. On the outside we’ve got this big looming word: steroids. And honestly Lisa, I’ve interviewed Tour de France athletes, NFL players all through the years and they will tell you that yeah, steroids makes you bigger, okay, as a homerun hitter it’ll give that extra 20-30 feet off the bat. Does it make you more talented? No.
Napoli: But so while everybody agrees that this is a formidable milestone to reach, the sponsors not so much?
Nyad: Oh, oh , oh Corporate America? Uh-uh. He should be the king. I mean even last year he made $2 million in endorsements. You know you and I sitting here would say ‘Whoa!’
Napoli: Not bad.
Nyad: Pretty nice little slap on the back, but given who he is in the world of sports, he should be up in the $10, $12, $15 maybe even $20 million mark. I mean, imagine: MasterCard and bank of America are two of the umbrella sponsors of Major League Baseball. Right now, don’t you think over this last year, certainly this summer, there would have been a big countdown campaign? They don’t want to be associated with the guy.
Napoli: We expect sports stars to be more virtuous than the rest of us, but even when they’re not, that doesn’t always kill their celebrity. Why is it that Bonds is sort of being held to a higher standard here than anybody else?
Nyad: I think that we have this naive notion, the public at large, that athletes are held to a higher standard. And they don’t do drugs at night and well, you know, they do. Not all of them, but their segment of their population does what our segment of our population does. But when it comes to cheating: uh-uh. That’s a line that the public and Corporate America just does not want to cross.
Napoli: Does anybody stand to make any money off of this milestone being hit or is this just gonna go into the record books?
Nyad: Well you know the ironic thing is, you know who’s really going to make the big money? It’s Bonds. Because for the last year, every time he’s stepped up to the plate, he’s taken that jersey and his gloves and he’s put them in a warehouse and he’s put the date and the number of homerun that was and guess who’s going to be laughing all the way to the bank.
Napoli: So he may not be Mr. Charm School but he’s a smart business man.
Nyad: There you go, you just summed it up perfectly.
Napoli: That’s Business of Sports commentator Diana Nyad. In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli. Enjoy your weekend.
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