The sports industry has continued to grow over the past decade rapidly, and this has given room for opportunities. Sports marketing, which is a division of marketing that focuses on the promotion of sports products, events and team, has grown in the number of athletes who endorse products. Exceptional athletes are being offered endorsement deals that come with a range of benefits like loyalties, free products, incentives and income for them and their agents.
History of Athlete Endorsement
Honus Wagner, a famous baseball player, was the first athlete to be endorsed more than 100 years ago. Other companies soon followed suit, first with sports products then later with other retail products (Karen, 2009). However, over the past decade, the number of sports endorsement is gradually declining despite the rapid growth of the sports industry. This decline has raised many questions as many try to find the cause of the trend.
The endorsement landscape that was once a land of opportunities for sports icons has drastically changed in the past decade. Changing economic times have forced participants in the industry to adapt to benefit from the changing trends. The sponsors are now choosing to “put more eggs into fewer baskets” by reducing the number of athletes and signing fewer famous athletes instead of new talent (Tripp, 2014). Contracts are now based on quality rather than quantity, choosing to go narrow and deep with people that turn the dial.
In the past, athletes had very little competition when it came to endorsements, but this has recently changed with the entry of actors and musician into the market. The new trend has significantly affected athletes as they now need to commit to building their brand to survive in the now crowded market (Sanders, 2015). The increase of participants in the endorsement market has led to an increase in the term of the contract. Sponsors are no longer just interested in an iconic face but they now also require passion, dedication, integrity and social media following from their endorsees. They need an ambassador that builds their brand and is actively involved in the community.
Change is inevitable, and it is always important to learn how to adapt to change. The current trends have changed the endorsement market for athletes, but this doesn’t mean it’s their end. It just means the athletes have to work a bit harder to get what they used to get in the past easily. They can choose to use the change to their benefit, or they can decide to resist it. The choice is theirs.
Karen, E. L., Rodney C. R., and William H. W. (2009). “Sports celebrity endorsement in the retail products advertising”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol.37( Iss:4), pp.308-321
Sanders, B. (2015, December 14). “How athletes can compete in celebrity endorsement market”, Sports Business Journal.
Tripp, M., & Staff, W. (2014, May 12). “Action sports athletes feel the pinch as endorsement market evolve”, Sports Business Journal.Vol 87 (6)