Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Bobsled and skeleton team hope success attracts new sponsors to fill the void"

From The Canadian Press

Review by James Hemphill in KIN 435 (section 2)

The Canadian bobsled and skeleton teams are going to lose their main corporate sponsor after this season. VISA, which has been their sponsor for twenty years, is looking for other opportunities and will not continue their partnership with the Canadian national team. It is a significant loss to the team because VISA generated roughly $350,000 annually to the team. That is around twenty percent of the program’s annual budget of between $3 million and $4 million. The national organization is also preparing for a budget reduction for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

In order to combat these financial difficulties, two of the top athletes, Melissa Hollingsworth and Jon Montgomery, are considering placing their faces on billboards in order to attempt to sway new sponsors. Hollingsworth is even open to putting a “For Sale” sign on any part of her uniform or her sled. The two athletes have a billboard campaign with the slogan “Give us a push. Gravity will do the rest”. However, this campaign has not been very successful because Olympic marketing is tied into the London Games later this year.

Own the Podium has helped the top athletes in bobsled and skeleton receive $2.3 million, but this does not benefit the younger athletes develop the program through innovation and equipment experimentation. With the lack of sponsorship, developmental programs might be cut and there may be increases in individual fees for athletes. Olympic athletes have to pay both a $336 national team membership fee and a $4,600 fee for bobsled or $3,600 fee for skeleton. The main technique to help keep the program running, membership costs stable, and the acquirement of sponsors is by continuing to win this winter and in the future.

Sponsorships are important in any sport, but especially in Olympic sports such as bobsled and skeleton. Without their VISA sponsorship, the Canadian bobsled and skeleton team simply does not have the funding to continue to finance their international program. Hopefully, once the 2012 Summer Games in London are completed, the team will have the opportunity to gain a major sponsor for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The key for the Canadian national team is continuing to triumph as they did in the 2010 Winter Games. In Vancouver, they won four Olympic medals including two gold medals. Sponsors want to align themselves with winners because more people tune in to watch the gold medal contending programs and those programs usually sell more merchandise. It is likely that the Canadian team will partner themselves with a sponsor before the 2014 Olympic Games, but that is still to be determined.

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