Recently, it was announced that Larry H. Miller (owner of the Utah Jazz, amongst many, many other businesses in Utah) will be sponsoring the Tour of Utah stage race.
Needless to say, this has aroused a lot of ire amongst some of the more liberal-minded cyclists locally, who are calling for a boycott of the race, because LHM yanked Brokeback Mountain from one of his theaters in Sandy, Utah (before it opened), because of the gay theme.
As hard as our sport is hurting, however, I don’t think we should chase anyone away who is willing to give us money. If the ToU organizers distance themselves from LHM at this stage, they likely will not be able to find another sponsor for this year. If the event doesn’t happen this year, it’s even more unlikely that it will happen next year … and Utah’s premier cycling event goes bye-bye.
Not to mention that LHM owns Thanksgiving Point, so they’d lose the main venue as well.
It’s a matter of balance. LHM won’t be hurt of the ToU gives back the money. LHM won’t be hurt if cyclists boycott the ToU. The only people that will be hurt there are racing cyclists and the organizers.
There are many other examples of odd sponsors to cycling races as well. Kent cigarettes sponsored the Tour of China in the mid-1990s. All sorts of car-manufacturers sponsor races and teams … and now, Amgen, manufacturers of EPO, is sponsoring the Tour of California.
How would it hurt any of those businesses if people stayed away from those races?
It’s a tough call sometimes.
People rail on many companies for off-shoring their manufacturing to poor nations, accusing them of exploiting cheap labor (and compared to US labor, it definitely is).
On the other hand, in general, most of these companies are paying better than average local wages, vastly improving the standards of living of those people now being employed.
So what does the conscientous person do?
If I thought I stood a snowball’s chance in hell of winning any money, I’d do what I could to win, and then donate my winnings to the Human Rights Campaign.