Investing in a dream

In the Olympic world, there is financial success for a fortunate few. But the ‘average’ Olympic athlete is in it for the right reasons. They’re not going to get rich. Or famous.

Like any professional, an Olympic athlete wants to make the best of their skill. If they can earn a living along the way or build a platform to launch a post-athletic career, great. But pared down to the bare essentials, an Olympic athlete wants to be the best at their chosen sport.

Yes, most top-ranked athletes have their coaching, travel and high-performance preparation expenses covered, But without additional support, otherwise known as sponsors, room and board day-in and day-out is covered by the biggest “real” sponsor of Olympic sport: The Bank of Mom and Dad.

There are ways to find support and this is a pitch to the corporate community to recognize the critical of diversity of sport – why it is important to look beyond the high profile – and how such an investment can bring tremendous satisfaction.

The ‘headgear sponsor’ has become quite pervasive across most Olympic sports and the best way for a corporate sponsor to lend a hand. This is the space on the helmet or toque of the athlete is theirs to sell to the highest bidder. A limited number of athletes can command a reasonable fee to augment their income. But for most, this financial investment is a modest supplement to help fuel a dream.

But that modest supplement can make a world of difference.

A basic headgear sponsorship for the “average” athlete might be $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year. In return for the logo of the corporation on their forehead, the athlete might be expected to write a short column in the quarterly employee newsletter and attend the annual general meeting or an employee function. Now $1,000 a month might not sound like much and is nowhere near those pro athletes, but at least dependence on parents is somewhat reduced.

Think of the number of businesses that could ‘afford’ to invest $1,000 a month into some of the best role models in the country? That’s the equivalent of those intrusive pop-ups in web traffic, one ad page in a major daily or one 30-second ad spot on the national news.

Or think of it this way: can we afford not to invest in our best and brightest?

Or think of it this way: can we afford not to invest in our best and brightest?

There are many ways to support Olympic athletes. Some good projects I’ve observed are intended to educate the athlete while bringing value back to the sponsor such as motivational speeches or attending corporate events – where the athlete is mentored while sharing their personal experience and building a relationship with employees. Another tactic might be supporting a personal blog where the athlete outlines their journey. Or link the athlete to the community support initiatives. It’s a wide-open field that welcomes creative ideas.

And it’s an investment that can go on giving. Community: the altruistic warmth of supporting a young athlete who is pursuing a dream. Building our future: developing role models. Business development: tangible ways to motivate employees within a company. There are a host of ways to creatively build value in a relationship. Done well, it can be fun, inspiring and darn good for the bottom line.

The importance of investing now in our 2018 prospects, is the need to keep our best and brightest motivated to stay in sport. It isn’t the money that maintains that grip on their passion. It’s the motivation of the Olympics, the World Championships and World Cup. To represent your country. To be the best in the world.

The symbolism of investment by corporations in a dream has far greater impact than most people realize. Choosing to support an athlete is recognition. A subtle endorsement of the sweat that stings the eyes on a hot summer day while doing wind-sprints, freezing toes while riding one more time up the lift for another training run in November, or calming nerves while moving into the start gate for the moment of truth.

These are the real athletes. No strikes, no arbitration and no multi-million dollar payouts.

Our Olympic athletes don’t play to be the best on the team or in the league. They play to be the best in the world. In two years, many stories will be written about how their efforts inspire the nation, strengthening the bonds that tie us together.

Our future prospects are worth every penny invested in their dream.

About Ken Read

Tough, Informed, engaged. Athlete centred, committed to good governance.
This entry was posted in Investing in athletes, Olympic sport, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Investing in a dream

  1. Pingback: Investing in a dream | Robert G Richardson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s