Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times and an Olympic bronze medal during his career. This success brought him fame and substantial sponsorships. However, as evidence mounted that Armstrong used illicit substances to better his performance, sponsors quickly disassociated themselves by likely utilizing a morals clause in the sponsorship contract.
As in the case of Lance Armstrong, morals clauses allow a brand or business the ability to cancel a sponsorship with the athlete/celebrity should they act in a way that damages their own brand substantially enough to hurt the sponsoring business or brand's reputation.
Importantly, morals clauses are not reserved for the elite sponsors. Morals clauses can also be found in TV show contracts, teachers' contracts, and appearance contracts.
Oftentimes, sports businesses schedule athlete appearances to boost their brands and bring in consumers. Regardless of the size of the sports business, a morals clause should not be overlooked in the appearance contract. In today's hyper-connected society, all it takes to start a controversy is a singe Tweet, which probably takes less than a minute to create and send. No business, especially a small business, wants to be stuck with an appearance by a controversial athlete amidst a scandal for fear that the business would be associated with the athlete.
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