The Pro/Staff Sponsorship Facade

If you’ve read this website for long you may remember there was once a page for sponsors.  I took it down.  Before I removed it I politely said good-bye to those companies that had once supported me.  They were all good companies and I used their products.  But, overtime I became tired of their game. The products on this site, now, are mine.

The sponsorship game was essentially this:  I promoted their gear, I got a discount, I submitted quarterly updates, if the company had a booth at a tournament where I attended I was expected help at the booth, I’d only use the company’s gear, and I’d pay for the gear out of my pocket. There would be a discount on my purchase of 25% to 70% depending on the company.  To be fair one company never charged me for their products.  Nevertheless, I parted ways with them, too. Two of the companies were carry over sponsors form cycling and triathlon (those were the ones with the big discount and free goods.)

The whole archery deal felt off to me. Actually, the whole deal is a marketing program where those sports companies use amateur athletes to help promote their products.  I understand, I was in business most of my working life.

During that time of my life, before I retired, I did all sorts of business activities including product development, marketing, and was Vice President of Marketing.  I was also an Executive VP & Chief Medical Officer, and VP of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs.  I wore all sorts of hats.

I, too, ran marketing programs aimed at promoting my products.  One thing I always did was paid attention to the folks helping me with their expertise.  In my area the expertise wasn’t 100% an athletic skill it was mostly brain skills. Essentially, the academic/clinical environment was where my work and products were placed – for the most part.

There was a segment of my work that dealt with sports.  There I worked with professional and amateur athletes.  That work ranged from professional football players, track and field athletes (pro & am), triathletes, cyclist, runners, and event mountain climbers.  One of our key athletes was Jerry Rice who you may remember wearing a “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  Our segment of that market was medical but it was still cool to see Jerry Rice making amazing catches while wearing the “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  We even had a nearly life sized cardboard ‘standee’ of him in our boardroom.

With both venues, the brains and the brawn, one key function of our marketing department was to stay close to these thought leaders and athletes.  As a result we built a community or network of individuals that benefitted from our support and we benefitted from their support. The goal, of course, was to benefit people. I can honestly say we succeeded.  There are people alive today that might not be had it not been but for the work we all did.

Furthermore, that combined group had crossovers, brainy people can be athletes and athletes are smart, and those people worked together on projects.  It was a pulmonologist that inspired me to become a triathlete, Dr. Nick Hill a tremendous athlete. One of the toughest cyclists I ever trained with is an anesthesiologist, Dr. Chuck Law. Another close friend, a World Championship level cyclist, later became a toxicologist earning his degree from the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Howard Taylor. These are just a few examples that come immediately to mind as I type this post.

Sometimes our company supported a project for the scientists or athletes and other times we did not.  Those times we didn’t provide support, financial or equipment, we did provide our help, if only to bounce ideas around, when it was needed even if the project held nothing for our benefit beyond the friendships we developed.  Years after retiring (We sold the company, I took my piece of the pie and called it quits.) that network still functions as a social group where ideas are exchanged.

The sponsorship or “Pro-Staff” arrangements I’ve been associated with thus far in archery have been extremely one sided.  There does not seem to be a commitment on the part of sport industry to create long-term associations with athletes beyond the young and the few. Personally, I could care less which bow a 17 year old is shooting.  Odds are that 17 year will be putting his or her bow down during their freshmen year of college.  A very few will continue with their advancement in the sport.

If you are fortunate enough and good enough that you are at a minimum getting free gear in return for donning that factory archery shirt good for you. If you paid for the shirt and get a 25% discount on products that has a  70% margin – well that’s your choice. If you see me wearing a company logo, you can bet that the arrangement has both benefit and detriment for both sides. That and I believe their gear helps me perform better.

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