Assignment on Corporate Sponsorship for Athletes
For a competitive athlete, corporate sponsorship and endorsement contracts have been the tangible payoffs for years of training. However, female athletes must have a combination of key elements to benefit from sponsorship. Being at the top of her sport does not insure financial support. Looks, personality, and intelligence need to be combined with high-visibility success for a female athlete to secure significant monetary reward. During 1992, Steffi Graf’s $6 million package of sponsorship endorsements made her one of the most highly rewarded athletes in the world.
Top golfers, such as Nancy Lopez, have also earned entry into the millionaire’s club. Top performers in movie diverse sports like diving, rock-climbing, and triathlon have been reported to make upward of $100,000 a year in endorsements from sponsors.
The key to gaining a sponsor’s interest remains the amount of visibility available. Companies have been less likely to spend money on women’s sports because traditionally they were not visible enough. Companies support athletes that earn the public’s respect and admiration by being a top performer. In essence, the company tries to buy that respect and link it with their image or product.
As Liz Doan, vice president of corporate communications for Nike put it, “If you have no visibility, there’s nothing for us to buy”. However, visibility of women’s sport has increased, and more female athletes are getting the recognition they deserve. Every four years during the Olympic Games, women have their best opportunity in terms of endorsements.
Mary Loreto set a high mark of over $1 million following her1984 gold medal. Earning potential has even been impressive for athletes in nontraditional sports during the Olympics. Bonnie Blair, despite the relative obscurity of speed skating, secured an estimated $100,000 in deals with Evian, Oakley, Xerox, Mizuno, Visa, Kraft, and Jeep/Chrysler before ever setting foot on the 1992 Olympic site.
Nevertheless, an athlete that combines talent with extraordinary looks has a greater chance at more lucrative deals. Companies have readily acknowledged the significance of appearance when selecting women to sponsor. GregRorke, president of Dan skin, which sponsors 15 women through Team Dan skin indicated that he looks for performance first.