Tiger Woods lost his Buick sponsorship earlier this week. Don't cry for Tiger I'm sure he will be able to cover the mortgage payments. Buick was paying Tiger a reported 9 million a year for his endorsement. This got them the most valuable real estate in sports--Tiger's bag--plus lots of promotional appearances by Woods. I truly believe by the time Tiger returns from his knee surgery--expected to be by the Masters--Team Woods will find a new major sponsor.
Tiger's loss of Buick might be the most visible sign of the times in the sports world. I think 2 sports that are very sponsor driven will really struggle. Many of the top sponsors on the PGA tour and NASCAR are auto and financial companies. The highest profile golfers and drivers won't lose their sponsorships but guys at the bottom of the standings will suffer. We've already seen DEI and Ganassi racing form a partnership that will see 2 drivers lose their rides for the 2009 season. Don't be surprised if a number of the golfers outside the top 50 don't have major sponsorships on their hats or shirts.
The biggest losers in the golf world won't be the players but will be the charities that get the proceeds of the tournaments. Many of those events are fueled by corporations buying Pro-Am spots and suites for the event. With corporations tightening their belts some of the events might not survive.