The Low Down on Sponsorship


When you hear the word “sponsor” in regards to sports what is the first thing you think of? NASCAR cars covered in hundreds of stickers? Football teams only wearing Nike, Adidas, or Under Armor? What about Parkour athletes being sponsored by Redbull and getting to travel all over the world to train for competitions or Runners being sponsored by Powerbar and given a partial livable salary? Sponsorship, as a professional athlete whether it be as an individual, or a group, has the potential to greatly enhance one's athletic career. Being able to practice one's sport as a career is something most people only dream of and very few have the determination to achieve. Through sponsorships, you can gain free gear, advertising, and the freedom to travel and practice your craft and be paid to do so. What does it mean to be sponsored by another company? The meaning depends on the company you work for, what they want from their sponsors and what the athletes want from the relationship themselves. In this article, we are going to cover a lot of facts and steer away from sharing our opinions on particular sponsorships programs (that will come later!). 

With Joanna Thompson for instance, a residential elite athlete of ZAP Fitness and Reebok, whose goal for the athletes that live and train with them is to help the company make World Championship and Olympic teams. ZAP Fitness currently has a primary sponsor where most of an athlete's annual support fees can come from. As well as two secondary sponsors, which means the athlete may be provided with products and gear in exchange for representation of the company. Their secondary sponsors are Generation UCan and Soleus. Soleus is a watch production company, that ships the athletes watches to wear; while Generation UCan is a sports nutrition company that gives the athletes protein powders, carbohydrate powders, nutrition bars, and electrolyte mixes in bulk. Their primary sponsor is Reebok, they provide the team with gear, travel compensation, and a basic monetary package that funds the entire club. If an athlete, such as Joanna Thompson, has the goal in mind of being a world-class athlete in her sport then it is an easy choice to choose to be sponsored by ZAP, a company whose objective is to cultivate and assist collegiate athletes on their journey to becoming a world-class athlete. With every sponsorship though there is always a give and take. For example, Zap has a monthly social media/marketing quota built into their contracts. Athletes may also be asked to speak at events, write for vlogs and websites, or even host webinars. So when taking on a sponsorship, one must also schedule the time to do some ground work. The most important obligation an athlete has towards their sponsor though is to perform well in their sport and to represent the ideals of the company and the team appropriately.

Following that, skateboarding has a very similar sponsorship variation depending on the seriousness of the athlete. An important point that was brought up in a sponsorship article by MUV Mag, written by Andrew Obenreder, is the idea of “Know Thyself”. This idea refers to knowing what you, as an athlete, have to offer the company, how it can benefit them and how much time and dedication you are willing to give forth. It needs to be noted that not all athletes; skateboarders, runners, swimmers, and traceurs included, need to constantly be pushing the boundaries to be the best in their sport. With most sponsorships, it simply starts by building a relationship with them and letting that grow and develop with time. For instance, two sponsorship types for skaters that one could casually venture into to start building relationships with a business is a shop sponsorship and a flow sponsorship. Both sponsorships usually don’t require a contract of any sort however, you will be promoting the company by wearing their gear and logo when skating. With a shop sponsorship, the skater simply receives a discount on merchandise with no time commitment put towards the company, whereas the flow sponsorship offers free merchandise in exchange for the time put into repping and showing off the merchandise through maybe a few social media channels and contests. The farther down the list of skate sponsorships offered the more serious the commitment becomes and the more thought and time that needs to be put into what and who the skater is representing. 

The Venture Co. and Compadres - By Elias Sell

The Venture Co. and Compadres - By Elias Sell