When an athlete commits a transgression that betrays the expectations of fans it can damage their brand reputation. Katie Sveinson and Larena Hoeber investigated how different consumer ideologies influenced responses to athlete transgressions.
Ideology shaped whether fans were critical of the athlete for not living up to their image or humanized and disassociated the athlete from brand expectations. It was common for fans with conflicting ideologies to villainize each for their opinions of the transgression.
As consumers viewed organizations as representations of the athlete, the researchers recommend making sincere efforts to address underlying issues contributing to transgressions.