In 2016, one day prior to winning a record 20th World Cup title (the most ever won by a male or female), Lindsey Vonn posted a video to her Facebook page of an emotional outburst whereby she’s seen destroying her ski bindings with a hammer after a race where one ski detached and she crashed.
Vonn deleted the video post from her Facebook page and issued an apology.
Additionally, she allegedly called Johan Eliasch (chairman of the group that supplies their equipment.)
Apology: “I’m always usually careful with what I do and say on the social media platforms and I just didn’t really think it through,” Vonn said. “I was a little bit too emotional. It was a good lesson for me. I just have to remember that I have a lot of people looking up to me and I can’t let my emotions get the best of me.”
My best advice is to always ‘think, before you think, before you post’ – and to also do a headline check (think: if this post made headlines, would I be happy or embarrassed?)
Lindsey Vonn has the added layer of being a celebrity and the strings that come along with being on the world stage and sponsorship deals.
Personally, when I saw the video I didn’t think too much of it. She’s a high-performance athlete; she was emotional and frustrated. We know that when these things happen, whether it’s hockey, golf, tennis – emotions can run high. Cripes. I ran my first half-marathon and cried like a baby. Not because I was breaking any records, but because it was something I had worked and trained hard for and accomplished.
Showing the world her passion isn’t necessarily being a bad role model, and it doesn’t mean she’s a bad loser either (as some have suggested.) It shows a woman having a real moment, having a real reaction to a disappointing outcome.
In case you forgot, here’s a list of people who had very public reactions in sport:
The real issue isn’t that Lindsey Vonn got so upset that she damaged skies and made a video; it’s that the whole world saw her do this with equipment acquired through a sponsorship agreement.
There are consequences that accompany it. Unfortunately, destroying the equipment implies that she thinks its garbage; which in turn could impact their sales and revenue. It also demonstrates a complete lack of respect for a brand that ponied up money to have the connection to her celebrity.
But will they? The answer is yes. (2018)
The outburst was a one-off. She’s still a talented athlete, with a solid fan base and the ability to earn others money. And while people may be upset with this display of poor judgment and behaviour, the truth is that as long as she can still create brand awareness and revenue for her sponsors she doesn’t have much to worry about. (Here’s a list of athletes who have lost endorsements; note that in many cases there were serious issues -> e.g.: sexual assault, illegal activity etc.)
I agree that Vonn made a mistake posting that video to her Facebook page because of the implications to her sponsorship agreement and her position as a role model. But I tend to agree with the majority of her fans who told her that she should stand behind what she did.
Her video showed the world that professional athletes are normal and react like normal people. But the difference is that they cope with tremendous disappointment under a microscope.
The biggest lesson here is that if you need to protect your reputation and sponsorship agreements to maintain your livelihood – make sure you think before you think before you post to social media.