Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts


FitzGerald, Suzanne Sparks


Harding, Tonya; Rose, Pete, 1941-; Tyson, Mike, 1966-; Athletes; Sports--Public relations


Public Relations and Advertising


This is a study of whether or not the effects of one athlete's behavior are broad enough to be felt throughout a sport. The researcher focused on three athletes whose behavior was thought to have left a permanent scar on the three sports involved. The athletes were: (1) Pete Rose, who was part of the Philadelphia Phillies 1980 World Series team and later became the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, who was accused of betting on baseball games, (2) Mike Tyson, former undisputed heavy weight champion of the world, who was convicted of rape and bit the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield during a title match and (3) Tonya Harding, Olympic figure skater whose boyfriend injured teammate Nancy Kerrigan prior to the 1994 Olympics.

A content analysis of newspaper articles regarding the three athletes was conducted. Intercept surveys of the general public were also conducted to gauge how fans' feelings about the sports were affected by the actions of the three athletes.

Directly following the controversial incidents surrounding the three athletes studied, the images of the athletes were damaged. The image and reputation of the sport of boxing were also damaged. Fans' negative opinions of Tyson and Harding remain.