from Turquoise Thompson
As far as sponsorship’s go I cant speak for all professional athletes because I am only one individual. But what I can say about my own sport in which I both participate in and observe, is that some track and field athletes aren’t interested in self promotion of any kind, they are totally content with the salary base pay they receive from their major shoe company sponsorship . Not every athlete wants to work at expanding their brand; and that’s okay!
Moreover, most of us have agents. Though its important to also understand that most track and field agents do not double as both agent and “brand manager” or in layman’s terms “manager”. Some of them do and that just means your getting more bang for your buck (i.e agent representational fees). As far as brand management goes I learned quickly that your should not necessarily place those expectations on your agent.
Rest assured, when opportunities come across the table in regards to a sponsor wanting to work with you they will head honcho the whole thing and make sure all the logistics are proper and in order. But they tend not to seek out those opportunities as aggressively as you the athlete might desire. This might come as a surprise to some because they usually recruit you fresh out of college when you don’t exactly “know the game” if you will. Not that they are playing games, its just a figure of speech. They are not out to manipulate you into representation at all, but “college kids” are “kids”, & kids get things confused sometimes or assume more than they should.
And so its best to understand that their main purpose is to negotiate the sponsorship with a major shoe company, should you be so lucky to nab on. In addition to that they communicate with meet directors in efforts of getting you into meets both near and far with a little pocket change to take home (i.e. travel and lodging accommodations, appearance fees, & performance fees). Which becomes livelihood for athletes like my self without a salary base in their shoe contract. Luckily for me I had all my bases covered: apparel to train in, grants from numerous organizations, a part time job and the will to find a way.
I personally want to be so much more than just a track athlete. I have tons of other dreams, probably more than anyone person could tackle in a single life span. So once I learned I would have to build my own brand I took to the task with tenacity. I applied for every grant opportunity USATF was offering, , I solicited promotion on my social media outlets in exchange for products from companies who’s merchandise I was using or planing on using to enhance or assist my training regimen, I united with training partners and reached out to local business who would want to donate or sponsor us any way they could, I connected with my Alma mater Boosters, I reached out to people in every area of entertainment I was interested in after track,the list goes on. Whatever I wanted or needed I made sure to put a special spin on my outreach that would prove my self as of value to the producer.
The simple nature of track and field as a professional athlete made me understand this old proverb “You have to work for what you want, no one is going to give it to you”, this couldn’t be more true. I have been top 10 in the U.S. my whole entire life and have yet to get a major salary base pay from any sponsor willing to take a chance on me. But that’s okay, sometimes you have to take a chance on your self and put your best foot forward and just keep doing that until you get somewhere or you die, but don’t ever quit because it all seems unattainable. The support is out there, sometimes it will knock at your door and sometimes you will have to do the knocking but just make sure some noise is being made. 🙂
Current and upcoming sponsors: Total Sports Link | Nike Link | USATF Link | Women’s Sports Foundation Link | Bruin Fan Alliance Link l Gatorade Link | Thick + Fit Link l The Cali lift Link l Simply Wholesome Link