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Age of Sponsorships in OCR – The Pro-Team

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OCR is still a baby in the sporting world, however it’s exposure continues to grow and the sporting companies are starting to knock on doors. While some in the OCR community have had a sponsor or two on board for years for most it is a fairly new experience. I see many posting photos of themselves signing contracts with various different companies and race organizations such as Atlas Race and Reebok Spartan Race starting their own Pro-Teams.

 

This brings up the question of race organizations sponsoring their own teams and the possible ethics behind it. Looking into the greater sporting world of endurance related sports the race organizers typically do not sponsor (talking about paid sponsorships) an athlete or group of athletes for the year. Often times a race organizer will comp athletes in registration fees or will arrange travel and accommodations. This is normal in high level individual athletics. It is rare in individual sport for a event organizer to sponsor athletes, sometimes pay them a stipend, then pay for them to come to races and then win money at said races. Not saying there are not individual cases but as a whole it’s not standard practice.

 

One person in the industry used the analogy of a race organizer sponsoring a pro-team is like the NFL sponsoring individual players. Or the NBA sponsoring Kobe as an individual.   However, drawing such analogies can be a bit off as no race organization is governing the whole sport of OCR. Although as most know there are the top players who really have the market share and are the driving forces in our newly formed sport.

 

On the flip side of the coin on this these pro-teams have been referred to like (again using the NFL) a specific team. Saying the Spartan Pro-Team is like one NFL team and the Atlas Team is like another team. The athletes are like the players on one of these teams, they get paid to play for one team or another. It’s almost like that statement was saying the Spartan Pro-Team are the Red Sox, and the Atlas Team are the Seattle Mariners. It is one way to look at this emergence of Pro-teams.

 

However, like the analogy above it also misses the mark because unlike those sports where the players compete as a team, they win and lose as a team. The Pro-Teams in OCR are still just individuals all racing for their own cash rewards and prizes. I know some sports are pushing team racing, but he reality is OCR is an individual sport. It is mush more akin to Trail Running, Marathoning, or even NASCAR. The sports where the individual is recognized not the collective team. So relating Pro-Teams to sports like the NBA, MLB, and NFL is still apples and oranges.

 

Time will tell what the best position for sponsors are in the future for our sport. Do you see this trend continuing or do you see companies stepping up to the plate offering similar monetary compensation building out teams for our sport instead of one or two athletes here and there.

 

Give us Your Comments

So where does that leave OCR?

What are your thoughts on event organizers sponsoring athletes?

Does a race having it’s own Pro-Team cause a bias towards one set of athletes?

What happens when a ruling needs to be made about two athletes one on the pro-team and one that is not, will the Pro-Team athlete have an unfair advantage?

Will the non pro-team member be skipped in highlight footage even if they win a race?

What other sports do you know of that events sponsor athletes in the same way as OCR?

Is this trend good for the overall sport in the future?

 

 

Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of DirtinYourSkirt.com. She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of MudRunGuide.com. She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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2 Responses to Age of Sponsorships in OCR – The Pro-Team

  1. A really interesting article. I think sponsorship in OCR is inevitable for the top athletes. Personally, I think this will come more and more from sportswear companies rather than events, as OCR becomes more popular and gets more media attention.

    I think the really interesting thing will be if we ever get professional OCR athletes and whether that will change the dynamic of events, with pro-only events appearing. I really hope that never happens, as part of the thing I enjoy at the moment is that “elite” athletes go against the fun runners and vice-versa. This is the whole thing with OCR for me: everyone in it together.

  2. Amy says:

    Having the event sponsor its own athletes definitely leaves room for questions of the validity of the win. I AM NOT saying that current Spartan Pro team members get special perks/helps when racing the Spartan courses, but it could raise questions/objections. It would be awesome to see sponsorships from companies that don’t have direct ties into a particular event– companies that sell gear, clothing and fuel.

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