Friday, 6 August 2010

Wear your kit and drink it too.

I was talking to my sponsor's rep this morning, having a discussion about sponsorship, amongst other things. Apart from negotiating a deal for the Women's Omnium in January, we talked about why riders are sponsored, or should be sponsored, what's in it for them, and importantly, what's in it for the sponsor.

My deal with Sam Miranda is pretty simple. I wear their kit, and get rewarded for making the podium (in their kit - this is important) in product. Fortunately I am a fan of their product. I don't think I could wear a sponsor's kit if I wasn't into what the sponsor was on about, or their ethos, their product, their way of being in the world. Fortunately I have a good fit with mine, and their kit looks pretty good too!

As a sponsored rider, I take my role as a promoter for that sponsor pretty seriously. I wear my kit when racing at big events, major events, such as State Opens, and championship events. By agreement, I don't usually wear it at club track racing on a Thursday night, which we both consider training events. Thursday nights I wear my fun stuff, which is usually generic, or sometimes my own club kit. When I wear my sponsored kit, I try to behave responsibly, behave decently, and always ride to the best of my ability (sounds corny, but if you are seen making the effort, even if you come last, it gives a good impression of commitment, dedication and honesty/integrity. Besides, the punters like to see drama in a race, and puking after adds to the drama!).If I want to slap someone, I wait til after the event and when I am out of kit (or at least not recognisably in kit). But most people who know me, know I rarely slap people, and when I do, I blog about it as well ;-p

So as a rider, I have agreed to the terms of the sponsorship, and stuck to that agreement. If I didn't agree to the terms, it wouldn't be an agreement and I wouldn't be wearing the kit. Pretty simple really. Some people don't seem to get this point however, and you'll see riders who ride for Sponsor A, rock up in another business's clothing for events. It looks bad for Sponsor A, makes people question the arrangement, reflects badly on the rider in terms of future potential sponsorship arrangements (lack of commitment and loyalty to a sponsor don't go down too well). All round, just not a good look. If you can't wear your sponsor's kit on the day (it's in the wash or the dog ate it) get more kit, or wear club/plain gear, not someone else's branded kit.

I am lucky in that my sponsor, whilst liking runs on the board, or medals on the podium, also appreciates good sporting values, fairness, enthusiasm, commitment to people and the sport, likes people who put in and give back.  It's not just about winning, or being a winner, but a bunch of other attributes that adds value to the sponsored arrangement. I've heard riders say that they are not "good enough" to gain sponsorship, but simply it's that they haven't asked, haven't asked the right potential sponsor in the right way. And at the end of the day, it's still about racing, how you race and who you are on and off the track, not whose kit is on your back.

image stolen from Sam Miranda Winery


Groover said...

Mh, never heard of that wine before. Got to try it... :-)

Love what you say about the agreement and the sporting values and valueing sports(wo)manship more than the medal.

Lawrence said...

Sam Miranda makes some great wines (and my tastes buds are saying that, not my sponsored brain). I really like the durif, Super King (YUUUUMM!!!) merlot, plus the sparkling durif and sparkling whites.

For me the sporting values of the sponsor and sponsored should match, and the athlete should be giving back to the sport and value adding to the sponsorship "deal" ie doing their part of the bargain, which is more than just wearing kit at some races.

Anonymous said...

it's about ... who you are on and off the track...
your words...

Lawrence said...

Thanks Anon, for your concise precis of my post. I am happy my readers have passed grade 3 english comprehension, but in your case Anon, I am still waiting for your point.