Should the Olympics open up and let athletes display their own sponsors?
The Olympic movement has one of the most streamlined and profitable sponsorship frameworks in the world.
In the reporting period between the Vancouver 2010 and the London 2012 Olympics, the Olympic movement raised over US$8 billion including $3.9 billion from broadcast rights and agreements and US$950 million from the global top sponsorship program.
It’s not that they don’t allow sponsorship, in fact it’s quite the opposite. They are open to any form of sponsorship as long as it is theirs.
Is it time for the Olympics to get with the times and open up sponsorship for their athletes who help generate all this money and let them advertise their own sponsors who helped them reach this pinnacle in sport.
Since the Olympics first began they have been targeted towards amateur sports.
This has worked in the past for summer sports but for Winter Olympics it has been difficult. Most Winter Olympians are professional, meaning that they get paid and they have sponsors that back them and expect exposure in return.
Athletes are encouraged not to tweet and send social media posts about non-official sponsors. Their helmet and goggle logos have to be a certain size and they are not allowed to advertise the brands that have supported them to get where they are.
Competitions that athletes compete in to qualify for the Olympics pay good money to reach the podium, and brands plus energy drink logos are common place on the nose of boards and headwear.
Snowboards as an example can be like mini billboards and advertise cars, electronics brands, energy drinks, eyewear, clothing, board companies and resorts.
All these companies help shape the athlete and fund their journey to qualify for the big event. They do this for the tiniest bit of exposure yet then have to forgo any coverage to adhere to the outdated rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Snowboarders have always struggled to be accepted by the industry but with the addition of slopestyle at the Olympics there are a lot more viewers watching our sport.
Snowboarders have tried to express themselves and their individuality as best they can while representing their countries.
Heikki Sorsa was the first snowboarder to show a bit of individuality on the world stage when he sported a massive spiked Mohawk at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.
Don’t get me wrong I think that representing your country is one of the highest honours that you can have as an athlete.
I just also think that snowboarders should have the right to express themselves and represent the people and brands who helped get them there.
Snowboarding was cool before it went to the Olympics and had to conform to the ancient rules of the IOC.
You can bet that the IOC and their sponsors are profiting even more in the coming years off the extra exposure that snowboarding has brought to the Olympics.
Snowboarders are proud to represent their countries.
Just look at Scotty James at the World Championships on top of the podium draped in an Australian flag, sporting big red boxing gloves with a boxing kangaroo on them and a Red Bull Logo front and centre on his headwear.
Surely the time has come where snowboarders can still express their individuality and their sponsors while representing their countries on the world stage.
◆ FLAIR: Snowboard cross is exciting to watch, here Australia’s Alex Pullin (located right) in Sochi. ◆ CLEAN: Alex Pullin with a rare clean board and helmet.