Ethics Dunce: Skechers

Do you know who the very first Ethics Dunce was? It was Pete Rose. This was in January of 2004, on the newly launched Ethics Scoreboard, and Pete had just admitted that he did indeed bet on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds, even though he had been loudly denying it (and smearing the reputation of Bart Giamatti, the baseball commissioner who banned him from baseball and entry into the Hall of Fame for it) for 10 years.

Now another decade has past, and Pete still doesn’t really get it. Helping him make money for not getting it is the “relaxed fit footwear” people, Skechers, with  jaw-dropping TV spot showing Pete in his own home (supposedly), padding down a hallway festooned with his many trophies, Silver Bats and other symbols of his days as “Charley Hustle,” as he revels in the comfort of his Skechers and the joys of being in “the hall.” Then his wife or girlfriend (with Pete, it’s hard to keep up…if she’s his wife now, then someone else is his girlfriend)) sticks her head out of a doorway and tells him, “Pete, you know you’re not supposed to be in the hall!”

HAR! What a hoot it is, being disgraced in your own sport for undermining its integrity! Pete has never quite comprehended what all the fuss is about—after all, his bets were always in favor of his team, never against it, and never affected his management decisions! He says. And why wouldn’t everyone believe him about that, just because he knowingly broke baseball’s biggest taboo (Pete can tell you Shoeless Joe’s batting average down to the 5th decimal: believe me, he knows all about the Black Sox), lied about it everywhere and often, and got himself thrown in jail for cheating on his taxes?

What would make anyone, in any company, think that an unapologetic lifetime sleaze like Pete Rose being associated with their product would make people run out and buy it? Or that helping such a sleaze joke about the reason he has been rejected as a sleaze by the sport than made him famous is a respectable thing to do? There is nothing whatsoever attractive about Pete Rose when he isn’t playing the game on a Major League diamond as hard and well as anyone ever has, and those days are long, long past: not one of the players in the weekend’s playoff games were born when Pete was amassing the most hits in baseball history. He was always pug ugly, and now, pushing 70, with shoe-polish colored hair and puffed up like a bullfrog, he’s affirmatively grotesque….though not as grotesque as his character.

I have some theories. Pete has looked better in recent years, some think, as a result of Rationalization #22, “It’s not the worst thing.” Yes, it is true that the more we see of Alex Rodriquez (and Barry Bonds, Ryan Braun, Roger Clemens, and…), the more it looks like Pete Rose wouldn’t stink up the Hall of Fame as much as we once thought. Skechers is aiming at a senior crowd who is likely to remember Pete, and maybe fondly. And it is true that using him in this cheeky way works if you believe that any buzz is good buzz.

But then, why not make, say, John Edwards their spokesman? That would really light up Twitter.

The commercial has indeed made me aware of a product I was unaware of before, and it has made me aware that I would set my head on fire before I would use a product made by people who think Pete Rose’s betrayal of baseball is funny.


4 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Skechers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.