Getting sponsored is an awesome feeling. However, most people have mismanaged expectations. The bottom line is your sponsor will provide you with product or entry to things that costs them little to no money. Their return on investing in you needs to be greater than the cost. Otherwise, it is not worth it to them. So if you are expecting your local gym to pay you hundreds of dollars just for exercising at their location, you need to adjust those expectations. More than likely a gym sponsorship would give you free training at their facility and possibly referral benefits for bringing in new members. Back to the topic of the article, here are three reasons that you should apply for sponsorship and the benefit it will provide.
Reason 1: Prestige/Validation
Everyone has a different motivator for being sponsored, but for me, this was one of the biggest ones. After spending a decade training and racing in all sorts of sports endeavors, being sponsored helps bring validation to your hard work. The number of times I have been questioned about my behavior regarding exercise, diet or weekend plans is validated through sponsorship. People tend to be more understanding when it comes to things like taking time off from work if they know you are sponsored. The “why are you not drinking tonight?” question also gets asked less often. Being able to show that hard works creates a positive benefit helps validate my behavior to others who do not have similar goals and have trouble understanding mine.
Reason 2: External Pressure
Many people believe that publicly stated goals make you work harder because there is an external pressure to perform. When you tell people what you plan on doing, there creates a reason to follow through because you do not want to be seen as a hypocrite in the eyes of others. The same thing applies to sponsorship. While you may not be publicly stating your goals, there is an understanding that you are always being watched or, at least, you know that you will have to report race results to your sponsor. This external pressure can help providing an outside force to train hard and perform well.
Reason 3: Cost Offset
I use the term cost offset and not profit or monetary gain purposefully. When people ask me how much I make from sponsors, the actual answer is I am losing money. That does not mean the sponsorship costs me money, but the added benefit they provide only offsets costs of racing and typically does not erase them. Through a combination of free and discounted apparel, race entry fees and product, it has saved me thousands of dollars (I got bored last year and made a spreadsheet that compiled the above plus race winnings).
The cost offset can also help generate some other income from other ventures such as my company Strength & Speed or sales from my book, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite Obstacle Course Racing, due out this Spring. However, what would be more cost efficient is not to compete at all. Not competing would save a ton of money in flights, gas and hotels, but I have to spend my money someplace, and OCR seems like the best use of my money right. I would imagine almost everyone in our sport maybe one or two people excluded are still at a negative balance if you add up EVERY race entry fee (not just the last year) along with associated travel and hotel fees for their lifetime. I know I compete because I enjoy OCR not for money, not for fame or any other reason. If you are here for money, fame or something else you may want to reevaluate your life choices…I think there are some better options out there.
Everyone has their reason for being sponsored or wanting to get sponsored. The important thing is to find yours and have reasonable expectations regarding benefits of associated sponsorship. While we are on the topic, feel free to check out my sponsor Hammer Nutrition with this 15% off your first order link (valid after Dec 18th), take a look at LifeFuels for a revolution in hydration, join Strength & Speed if you are looking for like-minded athletes ,sign up for a Conquer the Gauntlet race today and be sure to keep following Mud Run Guide. That is my not so subtle plug for some of the companies that have helped me out on my fitness journey.
If you ever work your way up to the level where you think you can get sponsored, what should you take away from this series of articles on sponsorship as you move forward?
First, to get sponsored you need to apply to a company and then multiple companies as rejection letters come in.
Second, you need to apply to a company that aligns with your goals is a product you believe in and use.
Third, once receiving sponsorship, you need to work for them. Just posting a picture post-race does not count as your work for the company. You need to work for them by training hard, performing well and providing them with a presence in person and through social media.
Fourth, you need to be a well-sponsored athlete by supporting only their products and not supporting competitors.
Finally, understand what benefits you will receive and have realistic expectations of what you will be provided. All of this needs to translate to sales for that company because if they are losing money providing you, the athlete, with free or discounted stuff then you are not a wise business investment. Stick around for the final article in the series “How can this help me if I am a middle or lower end racer in the open waves?”
Did you miss the earlier parts of this series? Check out the links below.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Mud Run Guide LLC, or their staff. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters.