NPR looks at crowdfunded athletes

May 9, 2012

The big business of sports may have a new challenger. Endorsement deals, giant salaries, big name sponsorships — this is what we’ve come to expect when we watch our favorite teams compete at their huge stadiums broadcast on major television networks. But what about the lesser-known, lesser-viewed sports? And the athletes who don’t have broad appeal and access to these sorts of lucrative deals? How do they support their athletic hopes?

That’s the subject of a Mike Pesca’s report on NPR’s Morning Edition: Olympic Runners Find Unique Ways To Raise Funds. A few athletes are changing the way they get paid to compete. For Anthony Famiglietti, a steeplechase runner, the reason for looking for alternative sponsorships was fairly simple. None of the shoes produced by shoe companies willing to sponsor him fit comfortably. He literally could not compete in their products. So he tapped into the crowd, raising smaller amounts of money and offering advertising space on his running uniform to bidders.

Nick Symmonds, an 800 meter runner, also tried an alternative sponsorship idea: auctioning a sponsorship placement in the form of a temporary tattoo he applied before a race.

It’s not hard to imagine a day when even more athletes get the seed funding they need to compete from the crowd. And, yes, now even a Kickstarter for athletes seems possible too.

Photo Credit: Runners start during a men’s 100m heat at the BUCS Outdoor Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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