For some time now I’ve been pointing out that Masters athletes are doing really well. I’ve also said that Masters athletes in some sports can successfully compete against Senior athletes. That seems especially true for a sport like archery.
Nevertheless, I don’t expect to see potential sponsorships – aside from the marketing and sales tactic of pseudo-pro staff – making way into the Masters division in archery or other sport. Masters athletes don’t get the same interest by large sport corporations as do Senior athletes.
It is affirming to know I am not alone in recognizing the advancements on the Master athletic arnea. Here’s a study that looks specifically into the matter:
Greater progression of athletic performance in older Masters athletes. (1)
The number of new world records has decreased substantially in most athletic events in recent years. There has been enormous growth in participation at Masters events, and older athletes have been competing at the highest levels with much younger athletes. However, the progression of athletic performance over time has not been well investigated in Masters athletes.
OBJECTIVE AND METHODS:
To determine whether older Masters athletes improved athletic performance over time, running and swimming times from 1975 to 2013 were collected biennially. The running event of 100 m was chosen specifically, as it is one of the most popular track and field events that would have attracted a large number of competitors. The middle distance of 400 m as well as 100 m freestyle swimming were also examined to determine whether the results in 100 m sprint event can be confirmed in other events.
The improvements in fastest 100 m running times over time were not significant. However, all the Masters age-group records improved significantly over time. The slopes of improvements over the years were progressively greater at older age groups with the greatest progression observed at oldest age groups of 75-79 years examined. The general trends were similar for 400 m middle-distance running and 100 m freestyle swimming.
While younger athletes’ performance has stagnated, Masters athletes improved their athletic performance significantly and progressively over the years. The magnitude of improvements was greater in older age groups gradually closing the gap in athletic performance between younger and older participants.
1.) Akkari A1, Machin D1, Tanaka H1. Greater progression of athletic performance in older Masters athletes. Age Ageing. 2015 Jul;44(4):683-6. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv023. Epub 2015 Mar 8.
At the moment I have no sport affiliations aside from my local club, Ace Apache. Ace Apache is based at the Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Georgia. Primarily, I see the club as a well-coached organization focused on the community youth. There aren’t many adults wearing an Ace Apache logo kit during tournaments aside from the Ace Apache coaches and me.
The younger folks on the team are frequently donning a kit for competition displaying their sponsorship associations. For example, Elite signs many of the younger archers and those athletes wear the Elite apparel during tournaments. Still, the Ace Apache logo uniform is frequently seen on the backs of as yet un-recruited youngsters.
In the past I played the sponsor or “ProStaff” game. That game is a marketing program were adults festered about for discounts on gear. If an adult is selected those quasi-sponsorships require (of me) quarterly reports, booth duty if that selected adult is competing at an event where a sponsor had a booth and devotion to their gear. Much of what a “ProStaff” placement offered sounds like fun. I was happy to agree until the benefit versus detriment became too one sided.
Last year I didn’t make an attempt to regain another year’s worth of discounts. Only one company continued and continues to recruit me as a sponsored athlete. Their offers were too egregious for me to accept.
The persistent potential sponsor is happy to sign me up if I promised to spend X amount of discounted dollars on their gear. There is a discount, but there is also a required dollar amount of which there is no way I’d spend my money. As such I am unaffiliated.
Another sponsor explains in their ‘contract’ I must use their equipment and that is to be the current year’s model. I do use their gear. But I’d have to buy their new gear even though I have their older, perfectly good, gear. There would be a discount.
In some cases it comes down to not what you know rather who you know. Or, in the case of sponsorship, not altogether how well you perform as an athlete in archery but who is your contact within an organization. I don’t know anyone of the insiders who might offer a helping hand.
A friend of mine that does have in inside connection with one of my ex-sponsors and did get a great deal from them. The company, now one of his “sponsors”, loaded him up with nearly $1000.00 (retail) worth of their goods. No purchase required. Sweet!
(You immediately think, “Well, he’s probably better at archery than you are.” Nope.)
Needing some new archery stuff I’ve studied the cost – dang! Since I don’t know anyone on any inside who might help I suppose I’ll have to fester about for a discount.
Mama often told me, “It’s not what you know, and it’s who you know.” There’s a lot of truth to what Mama said.
When I worked a day job I knew a lot about my field of employment. Academically, I’d earned a doctorate and a law degree. Even so, I never let my schooling get in the way of my education (M. Twain.). Along the way, as I piled up college credits, if some credentialing exam’s testing requirements had been satisfied by my study I took the test. I piled up a lot of credentials as a result. Most I never needed.
Over the years I built up a lot of knowledge and made a lot of contacts. Those contacts eventually led me to a very satisfying career. Without the contacts I’d still have had a very enjoyable career in academia but not one that could have been as richly rewarding. As it turned out I was able to retire at age 57.
The early retirement offered me a chance to work at a sport. At 57 cycling or triathlons would have only been fun pastimes. Archery, which I stumbled upon by chance, meant if I got good enough I could earn a few dollars.
I have earned a few dollars here and there. Those rewards have been exclusively shooting league events. Among them all I’ve had to compete against archers often younger than my children.
In my age group I’ve done well at the NFAA and USA Archery events as a non-professional. USA Archery, of course, doesn’t have cash on the line. The ASA and IBO offer cash winning as does the NAA. There is also money available via contingency programs. However, the big money is set-aside for the young professional archers not the Master/Senior level athletes.
Shooting, as a Senior Pro and winning everything wouldn’t yield the return of a young professional winning one of the major events. On the bright side archery is not as age impacted as other sports. On the down side, all the young pros are really good. In other words, once you hit 50 and if you shoot outside of the Pro division you’re not going to reap much reward. That’s too bad if you consider most competitive archers are over 50. (1)
There’s the potential for an older archer to become a “Pro” Staff shooter. I have no idea to the extent of support a “Pro” staffer receives. I tried that pathway with minimal success. I mostly got support in the way of discounts on equipment. One company, that had known me as a triathlete, gave me some free stuff.
During a tournament I learned an opponent was a “Pro” Staffer with one of the companies where I held a “Pro” staff position. I further learned he’d received hundreds of dollars of free gear where I had been awarded a 25% discount. The gifted archer has never beaten me. But, he knows somebody at the company whereas I know no one at the company. Mama was correct.
Using GoDaddy.com I check data on this website. I also check sources that provide a test on safety and ranking. (Need to ensure Puttingitontheline hasn’t been linked to those more nefarious sites out there.) This site is visited often and folks take their time trying to read what I’ve written. I appreciate your efforts.
For the most part you are not too critical regarding my writing skills. I’ve written a lot despite my lack of sentence or paragraph construction ability. You might even find it surprising to learn several of my “scientific” papers actually earned unsolicited awards. Then, science types not English or writing majors reviewed those papers.
Once a reader slammed my sentence structure on Facebook. I accepted his criticism and requested he send me an example of his writing so I could learn a thing or two. I never heard back. The article he slammed is one of the more read and shared works.
I kept the angry review posted on Facebook for several years. If I’d get writers block I read it, have a laugh, and write something. There are many errors online that can be blamed on spellcheck and haste. Others are simply the result of failed education. My mad (I’d assumed he was mad based on the language he used) critic seemed to have reached his limit with either prose or me. (Shared wisdom of Mark Twain: “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education. With that we are of the same mind despite his being long gone, perhaps missing before his demise or he was just more enlightened. The point is, the critic seemed un-educated, perhaps from a lack of opportunity or lack of effort. Both conditions can be overcome by trying.)
Another obsessive-compulsive reader seems to live for typos. One here never slips his examinations. I’ll hear from him as soon as I post this writing. I write a lot and there are errors to support those works.
There’s a book and essay for sale here. The book will have a few areas that might bog readers down. But, it is short and you won’t hurt yourself reading it. The book does have a paragraph or two that caused me to laugh when I read them. Then, I knew what I was thinking when I wrote them.
The essay, while short, is a nice read. You can buy both for under $10.00. (Go to the Products tab to make your purchase) Do so, I’ll appreciate it. (Those last five words are one of those sentence things to excite my OCD reader.)
GoDaddy says there are about 26,000 visitors using this sight per month. That is a reason I keep writing, but not the exclusive driver. One data site claims Puttingitontheline.com “shows us how good and useful this site is.” (1) They further had a link tempting me to recruit their support to monetize Puttingitontheline. It reminded me of a ProStaff agreement.
Alexa currently ranks Puttingitontheline.com in the top 1% of all websites. I’m number 18 million out of 1.5 billion. Really there are only 200 million ‘active’ websites, so Puttingitontheline is among the top 9% of all ‘active’ sites. (2,3) Still, not bad.
There are a few similar websites that are more popular than this one. Prime, the archery manufacturer, is listed as one of those sites. They occupy a slightly higher spot on the Internet hierarchy. Archerydude.com is another site that out ranks Puttingitontheline. It is a pretty nice site with loads of commercial connections. I wonder if Archerydude is netting any cheddar. Those sites showed up in the data analysis because they had similar content as programmed in the algorithm used for the comparison.
Puttingitontheline isn’t a moneymaker. I hope that changes. There were “Sponsors” once on the site. None of them truly sponsored anything. They didn’t pay for the space. One of the “Sponsor” top dogs claimed he was only getting about 30 referrals from my site to his per month. He let the numbers slip during our conversation. We were talking about having the company pay a little for the support and exposure they were getting form Puttingitontheline. He declined the invitation.
I estimated his company’s sales per month from those referrals to be $2250.00 or $27,000 annually. Again, the figures here are based on slipped information. The company isn’t a Wall Street titan and has an annual revenue of under $400k. The referrals meant Puttingitontheline helped add 6.75% to their earnings. He didn’t want to share any of that so I dropped them as well as everyone else.
I’ve continued to follow the $400k company since I released them. Their reported sales have decreased 9%. That might not mean anything because in general archery equipment sales have been dropping since 2016. (4)
Catching Fire, that Hunger Games movie came out in November of 2013. (5) The last of the series hit the box offices in 2015. (6) There was a peak during the Hunger Games series in archery sales. After that archery sales have settled back down to the pre-Hunger Games growth curve, if you could call it a curve. But, $27,000 is still $27,000. (The chronological drop in sales of the subject company did not line up with the movie sequence. It did line up with their absence from Puttingitontheline.com)
What I need is a movie about an old fellow that picks up a bow and becomes some kind of comic book hero to the Social Security demographic. Maybe the hero is a wizard, like Gandalf from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, except the action takes place in the future – not Middle Earth. The Gandalf-ish character uses a magical bow to fling magical arrows saving those distressed in an apocalyptic age. (Literary trivia note: The Hobbit was written in 1937 and has never been out of print.)
Should that movie develop with success the bow manufactures will reap rewards when all the silver haired movie goers decide to give archery a try. Pharma would see an uptake in beta-blocker sales and maybe some of those ex-ProStaff sponsors might fork out a few bucks for a link from here to their site.
Today, I received an email from a potential sport sponsor. They invited me to be an “Ambassador.” For that title all I had to do was purchase their gear at a discount of 35%. I said no. I like their gear. I use it. But, I’m not going to market it for them at a cost to me.
The sport industry on the US is big. Annually, the 2019 estimate is for a gross of $73.5 billion US dollars. (1). That’s a lot of money. The company that contacted me has annual gross sales of $8.1 million US dollars. Let me be clear, I use their products everyday, but I won’t essentially pay to work for them. Their employees earn an average of $54,000 per year. Their mid-level managers are earning around $81,000 per year. So, why did they contact me?
Their “Ambassador” program, like those “Pro” staff programs are marketing and sales tools designed to generate growth by identifying athletes that have some merit who might help the company gain recognition in a specific market. Perhaps, the company that contacted me has seen that one of the largest markets in sport is people over 50 years of age. In fact, it is a growing market. (2)
Archery is also growing at a rate decent rate. One report suggests archery is growing globally at 7.19%. (3) In the US the archery market grosses around $535 million US dollars per year. (4)
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to freely give my time and money to companies, even those I like, unless there’s a return. In any arrangement, unless there’s benefit and detriment to both parties, there’s no deal as far as I’m concerned. A 35% discount is not enough of a detriment on the company’s part or benefit to me to create a deal.
In archery, the overall largest segment of competitive athletes is those over 50 years old. (5) I’m glad to see that perhaps one company has identified that segment of a large industry. If, indeed, it was my age that contributed to the company’s marketing contact. No matter the case, there’s no deal.
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.
On this very site there was once a page dedicated to my “sponsors.” I liked and used their products. For several years I kept in touch with them, sent the required quarterly updates, had links from my website to their website. Some provided a small discount to me when I bought from them. A couple even gave me stuff at no cost other than using their products. Over time I decided to drop my sponsors. I got tired of putting together all those reports, emailing them, and then following up to see if my report had been received. I supposed the marketing folks at those former sponsor companies had bigger fish to fry.
Nike! If you want a great sponsor don’t even consider Nike. They’re a great sponsor. Nike isn’t interested in your request for sponsorship. If you are good enough, they’ll find you. In cycling, decades ago, Nike was one of my sponsors. Nike probably had no idea I was one of their athletes.
I got free Nike apparel because I raced bicycles for Trek. I had a contract to represent Trek as a member of their “Mid-Atlantic Factory Team.”
Trek gave me all manner of free stuff including bicycles, bicycle parts and racing kits. Those kits were adorned with the Nike swoosh. One of those free bicycles was the equivalent of getting seven top end Mathews or Hoyt compound target bows a year. It beats the heck out of a 25% discount on a dozen arrows or bowstring. To make matters better I never had to send in a personalized summary of my races. Someone knew and kept track.
A Nike sponsorship would be nice. I need new running shoes. This year I’ve run through four pairs of running shoes. The last pair on hand is disintegrating with every mile. I have a race tomorrow and am hoping the shoes don’t fall apart during the run. If they do, it won’t be Nike’s fault.
Running shoes aren’t so expensive that a new pair will break the bank. A new pair is around $134.00. Call me cheap, but I hate buying new running shoes.
Nike never provided me with running shoes. My loose connection with Nike didn’t go past the free kits from Trek. Once, a representative from Nike did give me a free pair of Nike bicycle racing shoes. I think he just wanted to get rid of them and they happened to be my size. I still have them – I can’t run a step wearing them.
When it comes to sponsors I miss the free stuff. Buying new running shoes or a new bowstring pains me. It is also a pain to pay entry fees and travel expenses. There was a time those costs didn’t come out of my wallet either. But, for the most part we athletes have to pay to play. I suppose I’ll have to bite the bullet and fork out the cash, again, for a new pair of running shoes. Then, I’ll need to do the same for arrows and a bowstring.
“By completing and signing this form, I acknowledge that I am a sponsored shooter of a local archery pro shop/store or that I am a sponsored shooter of an archery manufacturer.” Well, that won’t work for me.
There are a lot of archers that I compete with who have layers of manufacturers’ support. Just the other day a buddy of mine posted on Facebook that he is a factory sponsored archer. The company he now represents gave him a shinny new bow. He’s free to fill out all sorts of forms to gain additional discounts on equipment.
Once, I asked a bow shop if I could be one of their shooters. There was a meeting, we talked, hands were shaken, backs slapped and compliments exchanged. The shop owner agreed to make me one of his bow shop sponsored athletes. A fancy bowling shirt with my name displayed was practically in the mail. In return I promoted the shop, sung the owner praises, and wrote about his glory.
Aside from that one meeting I never heard another word from that shop unless I happened to be there with money to spend. The fancy shirt never materialized. I suppose one needs to be truly an elite archer to don the shirt of glory and marketing. Apparently, the top shop, its heroic owner and the associated bow company providing equipment had second thoughts about yours truly.
Sure, I’ve played the gather a sponsor game and even collected a few. They never amounted to anything real so I thanked them all and said goodbye.
I am now discount free, I’m a full price man. Thankfully, archery is a whole lot less expensive than triathlon or cycling.
Sponsorships are nice when they’re real. It is great to feel like you’re part of something. Of course, you’re willing to contribute, but before you sign any dotted line, make certain the benefit and detriment are mutual. Otherwise, you really are just another customer.
Getting involved with archery manufacturers is tough on my ego. I hate asking for support. Each year I swear it will be the last time I approach any company with my hand out. Each year I still approach companies with my hand out.
In sports, hunting sponsors seems to be part of the game. As athletes improve the sports sponsorship deals become better. To initiate the sponsorship process the athlete has to make the preliminary contact most of the time. Big companies like Nike don’t accept requests for help; they have scouts that contact top athletes. Archery manufacturers may have scouts, I wouldn’t know for certain. A fellow, at a 3D tournament, told me he’d been scouted and recruited by Mathews and was a member of their ProStaff. He was wearing, as proof, one of those flamboyant shirts that simultaneously announced Mathews while expanding his head.
Maybe that archer was as he claimed a member of the Mathews professional elite factory team. Supporting evidence, that is from an independent source (like the Mathews webpage) seemed inconclusive at best. Certainly the archer could have been a local archery shop’s premier selection whereby he adorned, for the local shop, a Mathews jersey while he pranced around local 3D competitions. (For paranoid readers in North Carolina: This archer and the recounted events here occurred outside the Tar Heel State) The strutting archer, in my humble opinion, wasn’t a top choice for product representation or placement.
Once, I tried to persuade an archery shop to help me become associated with a bow manufacturer so that I too might wear one of those colorful banner shirts. The owner promised help, all I needed to do was drive to his shop for his sagely advice and direction. He’d even assured me my efforts would be rewarded with the prized apparel. Among the advantages of being under his wing included substantial discounts on all supplies he sold.
In preparation for our in person meeting I sent, as requested, resume and results. Where after my arrival there followed serious conversation, acceptances and wringing handshakes. Before departure the complimentary proprietor tried, unsuccessfully, to sell me a new much improved bow. I did depart with a new 3D target and supplemental attachment for my old inferior bow, both conveyed at full price. Nevertheless, I’d offered my hand and remained true to my word accepting his shop for promotional placement on my website for the term of one-year.
Over that year a different archery shop approached me to see if I’d be interested in becoming one of their sponsored shooters. Sadly, and perhaps foolishly, I declined the offer based on the value of the prior handshake contract, which in hindsight seems to have been unilateral.
Today, I bumped a sponsor from my website. I liked their products and used them. They approached me to become a member of their staff. Until that contact, I’d never heard of the company. We signed a deal. Nevertheless, that company no longer has my attention. The notice is most likely mutual.
Their initial representative seemed like a smart fellow and understood marketing. As he grew within his organization a variety of product managers rolled into and out of his earlier vacated job. It reached a point where I simply did not know who was my contact and eventually the company become to me more worry that worth.
In that ex-sponsor’s spot I’ll be soon announce a new agreement and arrangement. Again, it will be a company that I sought, with reason – I use their products.
We’ve signed a deal and I’ll get a discount when I need more of their goods. I don’t currently need any of their wares; I am fully stocked via previous retail acquisition. My reasons for seeking them out: 1) They seemed like nice people, 2) I use their products, and 3) the company is based in my home state of Georgia.
For me getting sponsorship is less about money, shirts, or ego. It has to do with getting to understand the business of archery. Occasionally, I learn a bit about the organization that sponsors me. As such I expand my knowledge about the sport and athletics.
By the way, I do have one of those vibrant ProStaff archery shirts. It even has my name printed on the front at back. I rarely wear it. See I don’t get paid to wear it, and it does make me feel a little self-conscious. The self-consciousness most likely could be remedied by an injection of cash.
Rudy Project, my shooting glasses sponsor, asked for a statement about their glasses and a photo of me shooting for their website. Typically, I am the one taking the pictures so I have very few photographs of yours truly.
In order to get a picture for Rudy Project I needed to have a friend take a few shots of me. Of the few pictures I already had most were just too dorky. I don’t consider myself very photogenic, hence the limited collection. Then there’s that awkward moment where you have to ask for help, “Will you take a picture of me?”
Since I was headed to an indoor range for the morning practice and I know the guy that works there I planned to ask for his assistance. The range is located at PGF Archery in Elizabeth City. Aside from archery supplies they sale fishing gear. The guy that works there during the mornings is a professional competitive fisherman.
When I explained to him my need he completely understood, he’d been in this same boat in the past. The awkward moment passed then we got on with the photo op.
A bonus was that no one, aside from the two of us – iPhone equipped photographer and dorky feeling subject – was on the range.
For a guy that fishes professionally, my friend seemed extremely enthusiastic in his role as iPhone photographer. Now, I did appreciate his help and remain grateful. But, it seemed he was laughing a bit, albeit on the inside.
(I shoot an Elite bow. They do not sponsor me. The Elite logo in the background was a coincidence.)