August 17, 2016: What are sponsors looking for in an athlete? Why do male athletes make so much more money than the females? And is there a racial disparity? Fox News “Sports Court” host Tamara Holder gets all the answers from super agent Leigh Steinberg. [Direct link here.]
A work-in-progress analysis
The Olympics is the perfect time to talk about “what’s next“ for the world’s best athletes, and not only the Olympians.
Many athletes struggle emotionally, finding themselves struggling with depression, substance abuse, and failed marriages. And many struggle to pay the bills, just as they did before. Speedskater Emily Scott applied for food stamps before Sochi after her stipend was cut to $600/month. Some even used crowdfunding to help them get to the Olympics in the first place. And it isn’t just the athletes. It’s their parents too. Gabby Douglas’ mom, a single mother of four, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
“We as athletes feel overwhelmed about a transition and where to turn. The reality is that most athletes only think about a career after sports; faintly while they are playing….The problem with being an Olympic athlete is you finish your career after 10 years and you look back at your resume and see no work experience and you are in your 30’s,” said volleyball player Gabe Gardner, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2008.
Enter the world of sponsorships.
A sponsorship can become an opportunity to pay the bills. It can also turn an athlete into a mega-rich superstar.
But there are many disparities: Age, gender, and race.
“I’ve been near the top of the sport for 10 years, but when I turned 30, my sponsors started to drop me,” freestyle skier Keri Herman told the NY Times in 2014.
Corporations want the big names. The rest of the athletes look for the crumbs, if there are any. It is hard to “feel bad” for the high earners but there is still an enormous disparity between the top male and female athletes. Check out Forbes’ list. Of 14 athletes, Serena is the only woman, at #8, on the list.
“The 14 top-earning Olympic athletes at Rio include eight Americans thanks to a half-dozen NBA players on the U.S. national team who pulled in more than $20 million over the past 12 months. A single athlete from six other countries also made the cut. Basketball landed six players among the top 14 athletes with tennis close behind with five, followed by one athlete each from soccer (Neymar), track (Usain Bolt) and golf (Rickie Fowler). Serena Williams ($28.9 million) is the only woman to make the cut.”