USOPC Introduces Plan to Promote Athlete Marketing

    • The governing body revealed the 'Athlete Marketing Program,' which includes a partnership with Opendorse.
    • Top athletes will pilot the program in 2021.

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The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has a new plan to give more athletes ways to gain exposure to brands and earn money off of their name, image and likeness, a step towards leveling out the top-heavy Olympic sponsorship landscape. 

The new “Athlete Marketing Program” is entirely voluntary and gives athletes three ways of connecting with Team USA’s existing sponsors. One of those ways entails a $1,250 payment to an athlete just for signing up to allow their name, image and likeness to be used in group marketing situations with three or more athletes from different sports. 

Another option allows athletes to earn royalties from licensed merchandise that features their name, image or likeness, and the third option allows them to sign and negotiate individual endorsement deals with existing Team USA sponsors. 

“AMP is the result of months of work with the Athletes’ Advisory Council, the National Governing Bodies and experts in the field of individual and group marketing programs,” Chris Madzer, who is an athlete representative on the IOC’s executive board, said in a post about the new program. “In a world where sporting success is measured in thousandths of a second on an icy track (like me, in the sport of luge) and where conditions often out of our control can be the difference between gold and silver, AMP is specifically designed to level the playing field when it comes to commercial opportunity.”

The USOPC has partnered with athlete marketing platform Opendorse to give athletes a portal to make profiles and directly connect with the governing body’s existing sponsors. Athletes with agents will be able to hand over control of their profiles. 

Select athletes will be invited to join the pilot program for the AMP in January 2021. 

The pilot group marketing program, which begins in March, will be open to athletes who finished in the top eight individual or top six in a team event in the most recent year’s world championship or equivalent top-tier event. The individual marketing pilot program will be open to those who either competed in the most recent world championships or are already qualified for the upcoming Tokyo or Beijing Olympics. 

“For the majority of athletes who never get any opportunity, it’s a fair and a great way to get some exposure,” agent Sheryl Shade told The Associated Press. “For the big-name athletes, this is not where they’re going to get their sponsorships.”