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Sponsorship

YourLogoHereNot so long ago, doing laps around the park, we came upon some guy from a new team consisting primarily of Cat IVs (the team was advertised as such which is why we knew.)  The jersey was decked out with sponsor logos.  Someone questioned how the heck a Cat IV team could have so much sponsorship.  Simple, sponsorship is a myth.

Sponsorship at our level comes in two forms: the benefactor and the discount deal.  That’s not to say that some teams get true sponsorship money (i.e., advertising dollars spent to associate a product or company with a team) – some local teams do get that kind of money and a lot of it.  They’re just the exception rather than the rule.

The benefactor is straight forward.  Someone knows someone who a) has in interest in the team for whatever reason (e.g., relative of a rider, a person who loves cycling and what’s to be associated with a team in some way, etc.) and b) has the wherewithal to provide the money.  Over the years, we’ve had the parent of a rider who gave us money under the “guise” of having the logo of the company he worked for on our jersey.  We’ve had the doctor of a rider give money because he was into cycling and it allowed him to be closer to the team.  We’ve had the owner of a company who wanted some kit also give money.   What none of those “sponsors” expected was to get anything back for their investment other than the kit we promised them.

The discount deal is probably the most common form of sponsorship.  A business will offer the team members a discounted price on their products in exchange for their logo placement on the kit.  The most common of these is the bike shop sponsor, followed quickly by the cycling-related business (for several years we had Gu give us an athlete-deal.)  Sometimes it’s not even a cycling related company – we once had a new local brewer offer to give us beer in exchange for a logo on our jersey – but it always a product that local riders might have an interest in.  The “investment” here makes sense because a) the company is getting money for their product, and if I had to guess, still making a profit on it and b) these products are typically geared at amateur cyclists, who not only see the brand name on the jersey, but generally get to see the product in use at the same time.

The reason that local teams don’t get true sponsorship or a lot of it, anyway, is simple.  They don’t have anything to offer.  They’re not on TV, they’re not in the press, they don’t generate interest – it’s not like a million people are tuning in around the globe to see who’s winning the Spring Series in Central Park.  Sure cycling continues to grow as a sport in the US, but  how many people outside of the handful of cyclists (and we are a relative handful compared to the masses) even see other jerseys let alone take the time to see who is “sponsoring” the team.  There’s nothing in it for the sponsor.  Zero, nada, niente, zilch.  So the next time you see a jersey covered in logos on some local amateur, don’t believe the hype. 

For years, I put together a sponsorship proposal and sent it out diligently.  We had some successes, but by and large mostly discount deals were on offer.  Finally, a couple years back after thinking about, the core of our team came to the decision that we wouldn’t seek any more sponsorship.  Sure we’d love to not to have to pay for our kit, but in the end we enjoy not having anyone tell us what races to do or when to race or the number of races we have to do even more.

That said, anyone want to sponsor us for the upcoming season?  I’d still like some free kit.

That’s today’s view from the back.

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