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How Much Does the Olympic Dream Cost? -- September 15, 2010

Column by Garrett McCaffrey, SwimmingWorld.TV Producer

PHOENIX, Arizona, September 15. THE highest achievement in swimming is Olympic glory. The Olympic Dream is what drives swimmers to spend thousands of hours a year staring at the line at the bottom of a pool.

To support this Olympic Dream, the United States government created the United States Olympic Committee, from which governing bodies like USA Swimming were created. In 2008, these non-profit organizations brought in more than $150 million. That is the price tag on Olympic glory, but what does it cost? How do Olympians continue to pursue this dream? In 2010, the USOC and USA Swimming had the opportunity to put some of their income towards financial support of the Olympic dream, but decided that the athlete's performance alone was not enough to earn such support.


One year ago, the Pro Swimming Task Force was formed. Its main objective: financial support for the professional swimmer through the Athlete Partnership Plan. Had it passed, the original plan would have increased the annual $21,000 stipend and extended the reach of financial support from 42 members to 55 members of the national team. All athletes who placed in the top six in any Olympic event at U.S. National Team Trials, who also are top 16 in the world, would have made $50,000 this year from USA Swimming and the United States Olympic Committee. The proposal would have accomplished the goal of financial support for professional swimmers, but yesterday it fizzled out at the United States Aquatic Sports Convention.

Some progress was made this year. The annual stipend for pro swimmers is now $24,000, which is offered to a maximum of 55 U.S. swimmers ranked in the top 16 in the world. This improvement can not be ignored, but neither can the question, "What went wrong with the Athlete Partnership Plan?"

In the end it appears that the deal breaker came down to name and image rights. The athletes' agents argued that the athletes already do enough for the governing bodies with their name and image rights, and the 2008 profits for USA Swimming and the USOC would back the agents' argument. Record-setting financial years were generated by the record-breaking performances of athletes in 2008. How were the athletes rewarded? The top names were given sponsorship deals, but after the dust from the Olympic fireworks settled, the rest of the Olympians were left to face the question, "How can I afford to continue swimming?" The Athlete Partnership Plan provided an answer to that question, but agents saw the original proposal as a sponsorship not a stipend. They argued that the athletes do enough in their performances to promote both USA Swimming and the USOC.

When this difference was pointed out to National Team Head Coach Mark Schubert, he revised the APP by removing the contractual obligations which included name and image rights. When the revised Athlete Partnership Plan was presented, the USA Swimming marketing department pulled out its financial support. Last week, the USOC sided with USA Swimming's marketing department. No contract, no pay raise.

How quick the marketing departments are to bite the hand that feeds them. Record-setting financial years were generated by the record-breaking performances of athletes in 2008. Two years later, when the option to help support these type of performances comes across the marketing desk the response is, "What's in it for us?"

As governing bodies to Olympic sports, the bottom line should not be the bottom line. Training for the Olympics is a full-time job. The APP was an opportunity to take care of the financial burden of chasing the Olympic dream, and the marketing department of USA Swimming, along with the USOC, have rejected the proposal without the rights to name and image. What's in it for them? How about the Olympic Dream? Every four years, they sell millions of viewers on the Olympic Dream. Why aren't they buying into it?

Someone owes Dagny Knutson an apology. She was sold the Olympic Dream. You could say that someone owes Knutson a $26,000 apology, but in reality she's lost much more than that. At this time last year, she had hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the form of scholarships, in her lap. She passed on those college scholarships to chase the Olympic Dream. Her chase has led her across the country and you can be sure she was banking on that $50,000 to support her dream.

Was the Athlete Partnership Plan perfect? Absolutely not. But the goals were true to the sport, the process was transparent, and the revisions were in the best interest of the athlete. It's tough to explain to swimmers, who follow a different bottom line, the intentions of the governing bodies created to support their dream.



Reaction Time Comments
Reaction Time responses do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions
of Swimming World Magazine or SwimmingWorldMagazine.com.

Reaction Time is provided as a service to our readers.

September 15, 2010 Question: Why are the athletes so terrified of allowing USA-Swimming name and image rights? If they thing that their name and image are worth more than the $50 grand to outside sponsors, then they just don't have to join the program, right?

Secondly, are the athletes unionized? Why is this an all-or-nothing type of deal? What if some of these swimmers were more than happy to opt in to the image and name rights for the increased stipend? For the time being, give them that option! For 20-something year olds, $50,000 is a very good salary for a full-time job. If the swimmers want to turn this into a revenue sharing deal (as it sounds like they might), then they need to negotiate it thusly. Can't call it a "stipend" but treat it like a CBA.

As an aside, I'd personally be more interested in seeing the meet commitments part of the contracts than the name and image parts (maybe they're too hand-in-hand to separate), but that's just me.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
September 15, 2010 I haven't really formed a solid opinion on all of this yet. I need more information about what exactly has been taking place. Either way the athletes and the sport lose that's for sure.

I have some questions though. How are name and image rights handled between athletes and governing bodies in other Olympic sports? Why would agents be concerned about the USA marketing wing using the athlete's name and image?
Does putting an athlete's picture on a website or advert promoting a meet constitute competition for the other sponsors? The only thing I can think of is that USA Swimming's own sponsors that may feature on websites and elsewhere conflict with those of the athlete.

Submitted by: ShortChange
September 16, 2010 They couldn't find a common ground? Shouldn't being a member of USA-Swimming inherently release your name and image to the organization to which you belong?

My question is, why couldn't the athlete side agree that their name and likeness could be used in any manner needed to promote USA Swimming, provided the advert was simply for "USA Swimming", and no corporate sponsors of USA-S would appear in the ad, unless the sponsor was the title sponsor for the meet. For example, "Phillips 66 National Championships". It seems USA-S and the athletes' individual sponsors would each have their fair claim.

As far as meet obligations, it only seems fair that the athletes would have to attend and participate in some preset number of meets throughout the year to demonstrate their stipend being used wisely. Whether that consitutes a Sectional meet and a National meet per season or per year TBD, but "here's 50K go swim" just doesn't appeal from a business perspective.

There are questions to answer, like why do they need 50K vs. what's been around and working for some time? Is swimming with Olympic gold as the end goal really a full-time job? Why shouldn't they be expected to pursue their dream in their "spare time" like any other aspiring athlete? Does swimming need to become a profession? These are tough to answer. I would normally side with the athletes bar none, but can wear the businessman hat as well. Tough call.
Submitted by: fl_coach
September 16, 2010 GigEm,
Both the USOC and USA Swimming are non-profit organizations created to support Olympians. They get a lot of name and image usage from the athletes that participate in their events, like Nationals, Trials, or even Pan Pacs. They make their money by making sponsors a part of these athlete's accomplishments. I would assume you understand that as such a big advocate for requiring meet appearances. If the athletes have to be at the Grand Prix's, USAS makes more money off sponsors for the event. Why should the athletes have to do more to get proper financial support?

ShortChange,
Allowing USAS to use name and image rights does waterdown the athlete's image. It doesn't hurt someone like Ariana Kukors as much as Natalie Coughlin. The fear is that when Ariana becomes a household name like Natalie, what happens then?

fl_coach,
I'd like you to explain how "what's been around" is working for guys like Mark Gangloff who have a new-born baby. 21k hasn't been cutting it. And please explain what other major or even Olympic sport has athlete's pursuing their dream in "spare time"? Should our non-profit governing bodies be wearing a business hat?
Submitted by: garrettm
September 16, 2010 Garret, I totally agree with that response. But as far as I understand it, the agreement that USOC rejected didn't require that, did it? Maybe I missed that.

Also, check out this CNN money article. It discusses the struggles of athletes financially, but it only discusses that they are greatful for the opportunity to work other jobs. It turns out, most Olympians have other jobs.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/27/news/economy/Olympics_jobs/

Heck, like there's a shortage of swim coaching positions available to these guys in California, Texas, and Florida where most of them train?

And as for the "what happens when," then she just drops the APP. Show me one other major (or Olympic) sport where the organization can't use athletes' names and images to promote their events? I can't possibly imagine who would sponsor an Ariana Kukors that would look at it and say "oh, sorry, you let them use your name to promote all of these swim meets, we don't want you to sponsor our brand." I think that's all the agents blowing smoke up the athletes' rear-ends, if that's really what they think about it. If anything, it will make them MORE marketable, because their name will be more household. Do you think Cullen Jones has become less marketable since attaching his name to USA-Swimming's LTS initative? Doubt it!

Regardless, that's a risk the athletes oughta be willing to (or at least have the option to) take. 50,000 birds in the hand is worth 100,000 in the bush.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
September 16, 2010 The issue is that the non-profit governing bodies were built to help the athletes, not exploit them. You're absolutely right about Cullen making a name for himself through the USA Swimming Foundation. He gets paid to be the face of Make a Splash, so it's good for him on a lot of levels. If the APP is signed by the national team, then the foundation wouldn't have to pay Cullen anymore because they'd have the name and image rights to all the swimmers who signed up. Why pay Cullen extra? This is the issue. They should provide the financial support based on everything the athletes already do.
If you took the $500,000 that USAS invests in the Golden Goggles every year, you could pay the athletes more. But that won't happen because the foundation and USAS make big money by selling sponsors the chance to sit with the athletes. If the athletes boycott the Golden Goggles, which is a whispered threat, then USAS loses a lot of money. See how this already works? The athletes do enough without the contract to earn the financial support.
Submitted by: garrettm
September 16, 2010 Garrett, let's put it this way - the USA still has the best swimmers in the world. So "waht's been around" is for better or worse working to an extent. I don't think 21K is ideal, but it's better than nothing. And yes, it does make sense for the sport governing bodies to wear the business hat. Money doesn't grow on trees and I think it is a tough sell to increase from 21K to 50K in this economy for a non-revenue-generating sport.

As far as other sports where you pursue your dream in "spare time", it's practically every sport. Low-level minor league baseball players all have part-time jobs, golfers who toil on mini-tours, cyclists, tennis players, etc. It's a full-time life - balancing pursuit of athletic excellence and earning income waiting for your breakthrough. The 21K helps a little to make ends meet for these athletes.

It must be established that to win Olympic gold, training MUST be a full-time job, and that it's worth raising the stipend 140.

So again, I think it's a tough call. When you want something bad enough, you make the trade-offs in life to help get yourself there. They should have been able to come to some middle ground that would have benefited everyone.
Submitted by: fl_coach
September 16, 2010 Then put it on a scaled basis. Tell the athletes that for every meet they go to, USA-Swimming gets to use their name and image rights, and pay them an appearance fee of sorts.

If it's a non-profit, then it's not as though someone is just pocketing the money. It has to be going SOMEWHERE. Hoarding profits is of no real benefit to USA-Swimming, so they must seriously believe that for the long-term financial health of the organization, this is what they need to do. I'd like to see all interested parties get in a room, state their concerns, and video-tape it. It seems like too much of this is hush hush, and that only a select few really understand what the contracts are and where the money comes from, etc. I think a lot of public objection to it would be swayed if we could fully learn what's going on. Even you, garrett, seem to know a lot more about all of this than most of us fans, and all we can do is do our best to pick up snippets here and there from USA-Swimming insiders like yourself when we hear an objection. My reaction was that the USOC rejected due to the lack of a meet commitment. It wasn't until we read this article that we learn that it's, according to SW, because of the marketing stuff.

And in the end, if the marketing is really an issue, how much are the athletes really put out if USA-Swimming says "this weekend at the Charlotte Grand Prix, see Eric Shanteau, Ryan Lochte, and Dana Vollmer race for a big cash prize!" Is there more to the marketing that they expect? I just can't believe that the athletes beef with this as much as their "Drew-Rosenhaus-do-it-our-way-or-we-walk" agents.

There also seems to be a lack of compromise, although I'm not sure which side it's really coming from. The pro-athlete side wants the increased stipend, end of story, with nothing attached to that. The USOC has no real motivation to give that to them.

I'd personally like to see the full agreement and it's language, along with the overarching business plan that USA-Swimming is basing the plan off of. I'd also like to see the language that the USOC used in it's rejection. I don't see lots of solid numbers on these things, laid out side-by-side in a document. All of the support that athletes currently receive, including benefits (free coaching at post-grad training centers? Free equipment through USA-Swimming sponsors? Free meet entries? Free travel?) Where USA-S's and the USOC's revenue is coming from and going to. Is the USOC reinvesting in the sport in other ways? Afterall, their big revenue driver is the Olympics, and they need to make that money last all 4 years. What is the athletes' objections to meet commitments? Swimming is one of the few sports where you basically have two opportunities a year to see any given athlete in a seriously competitive event. If they had more money, would they feel more comfortable commiting to the travel for a meet?

With the information that is easily available to the public, it seems like a no-brainer for the USOC to reject it, as most of the layman comments I see are against the plan as-written. With the information that you have, it seems like a no-brainer for the USOC to approve it. Somewhere, there's an information gap in here, and that might be what's keeping full public support away.

Sorry to be verbose, and don't take any of this as a stab at yourself Garrett, but all of the information coming out about the issue seems to be fairly one-sided, without the USOC/USA-Swimming/whoever else opposition getting a chance to explain themselves in their own words.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
September 16, 2010 Dagny Knutson had scholarship offers from every major university in the USA. Her training was bank
rolled by her parents. The Olympic dream led her
California with the thought of professional coach-
ing and professional funding. Now it appears The
rug has been pulled from under her feet. Would
an apology even be enough for what she has sac-
rifised.
Submitted by: askme10
September 16, 2010 and why couldn't she still go back to college now? As far as I know she didn't sign any endorsement deals? She didn't take any more than the allowable stipend money (if that). and in many cases the NCAA can be petitioned to have eligibility restored even if she has done any of the above (there is precedent). Pack her stuff up and go to college. Many would be glad to take her.
Submitted by: jerry
September 16, 2010 I am trying to understand the opposition to signing a contract in return for $50,000 per year. Basically, the contract would say that USA Swimming could use the athletes images, name, likeness, etc. It has no exclusivity clause, meaning the athlete is free to sign other endorsement/appearance, contracts. Where is the downside for the athlete?

So the 'Pro' Athlete wants 50K a year with the only requirement to appear at meets they are most likely going to go to anyways since they need the competition? What does USA Swimming get out of it? Without the ability to use the athletes images/likeness, do you honestly think they would sign the corporate sponsors? with the exception of Phelps and a few others, without the USA Swimming promotion, how many of these pro athletes would appear in anything other than a SPEEDO or TYR catelog?

Let's also not forget that most of the 'pro' athletes turn pro so they can accept the medal and world record money given during the olympic games which totals 10's of thousands of dollars...

To me it looks like a few athletes (most likely iinfluenced by the likes of the Evan's) have ruined it for the a lot of athletes..

Lastly, let's not forget the monthly stipend for a national team athlete can be accepted without having to turn pro and without jeopardizing an athlete's collegiate status. That training stipend totals well over 10K a year...

Garrett? I'm looking forward to you thoughts...
Submitted by: Sportcentric
September 16, 2010 @jerry, Dagny accepted prize money from the Charlotte UltraSwim, and NCAA athletes are only allowed to accept up to the cost of the meet (entry fees, travel, etc.) The amount she won exceeded that, and my understanding is that because that is "prize money" and not a stipend, she's ineligible. It was such a small sum, it's possible that they would allow her to swim beginning 2011-2012 short a year of eligibility. That's been done before when it was very limited professional contracts in other sports, tennis players who have played a few pro matches, etc, although usually those situations are with international athletes. Would assume they'd extend the same rights to Knutson.

And again, I really hope that these athletes are being properly informed and guided, Knutson took a risk, and it didn't pan out. Probably should have gone to a year of school, waited to see the APP pass, and still had a year to train for the Olympics as a professional. It makes me very nervous that someone is advising these guys to count their chickens before they're hatched. Wonder if the same was told to Clary?
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
September 16, 2010 At this point, Sportcentric, I don't know that signing a sponsorship with USAS is the worst scenario for swimmers like Dagny Knutson, Charlie Houchin, and Mark Gangloff. They probably don't mind the idea. However the issue is much bigger than that.

The purpose of a governing body is to support the athletes, not to make money off of them. They are not a league like the NFL or NASCAR, they are a non-profit organization. Yet they bring in 32 million dollars in an Olympic year, and tens of millions in the years in between. They pay their CEO almost half a million dollars. Where do you think that money comes from? Major sponsors. Why do they get involved? Because they want to be part of the accomplishments of the athletes. At events like Nationals and Pan Pacs, sponsors pay to sit in VIP sections so they can watch the swimmers up close. Do the swimmers get any percentage off that ticket price? Nope. At the Golden Goggles, an event built to celebrate swimmer's accomplishments, USA Swimming brings in close to a million dollars profit. How? By letting sponsors sit at a table with National Team swimmers. Do the swimmers get any money off that? Nope. The swimmers are already the product that drives USAS, why should they give any more? Their accomplishments in the pool make money for the governing bodies, shouldn't that be more than enough for a non-profit organization? This is a chance to take the money generated by swimmer's accomplishments and give it back to the swimmers. It's the right thing to do.
Submitted by: garrettm
September 16, 2010 Exactly why should Dagny get a 'do over'? She made a choice. She and any other athlete that turned pro counting on the 'raise'(if in fact that factored into it which I doubt) needs to live with it. If a person buys a stock based on advise that it is going to rise 20% in the upcoming year and it tanks, does that person deserve a do over?

If a person takes a job in a startup company with a large part of the compensation in stock options and a year later the options are worthless, does that person get a do over?

If a football player comes out of college early and signs with an agent, and instead of getting drafted in the first round, gets drafted in the 6th round, does that athlete get to go 'oops, i made a mistake, I want to go back for my senior year'?

Whether the agents influenced the athlete or Shubert influenced the athlete, deal with it. Welcome to the real world...
Submitted by: Sportcentric
September 16, 2010 Garrett;

How many of the 300K members of USA Swimming know that a pro swimmer makes, oh what, 30K for a gold medal at the Olympics or gets a nice payout for each American or World record?

Let's not make this out like an athlete ranked near the top of the world rankings is having too much trouble making a living from swimming compared to what they would be making as a recent graduate out of college in a 9-5 job...9looked at the job market lately?)

This concept that becuase USA Swimming brings in millions of dollars in endorsements means that a few top athletes should get money for doing what they wouild otherwise do is ludicrous. If they want 50K a year, they should be willing and happy to do more for that. Let's face it, a few appearances at national meets is not asking a lot.

Throw into it the free media training they get a national team camps, travel reimbursements to gand prix meets, and all of the oter perks on top oof the training stipend, I can't imagine how they would balk at allowing USA Swimming to use their image in return for 50K a year. Again, there was no exclusivity clause in that 'contract'.

You can use the CEO and national team director salary as an example, but really, where is the extravagent overhead of USA Swimming? The mojority goes to club development, events, and insurance, not the national team (which I do think is wrong).

And when the dues increase went thru years ago, did the national team dept and the national team members get a dime of that? Nope, it all went to club development which is now a bloated and fairly useless side of the organization. (Seriously can anyone say that they have done a good job?) Where was the outrage then?
Submitted by: Sportcentric
September 16, 2010 Sportcentric, actually the basketball or football (i forget which, maybe both) player can declare for the draft and if not drafted or not high enough to their liking, they can in fact go back to college.

Gig'Em - yeah I forgot about the Ultraswim money. Shame to have accepted so little money and have that keep you from going the college route. I do bet if that is all the money she took that the NCAA would in fact reinstate her eligibility (as you noted). Generally I think she got some bad advice on a "wish" that the PP would be approved. Clary is in a whole different boat with 3 yrs school under his belt (and way more success on the international swimming stage I might add)
Submitted by: jerry
September 16, 2010 jerry;

No, they can decare for the draft and as long as they do not sign with an agent, they can withdrawl before a certain predraft date.

Once they sign with an agent and enter the draft, they lose all eligibility.

Apples to Apples with a pro swimmer signing with an agent and turning pro..


Submitted by: Sportcentric
September 16, 2010 jerry;

No, they can decare for the draft and as long as they do not sign with an agent, they can withdrawl before a certain predraft date.

Once they sign with an agent and enter the draft, they lose all eligibility.

Apples to Apples with a pro swimmer signing with an agent and turning pro..


Submitted by: Sportcentric
September 16, 2010 SPortcentric - yeah I think you're right. I know if they sign with an agent they cant go back. I thought they could actually go through with the draft though and still choose to go back. Maybe not. Still a shame if so little money keeps her from college.
Submitted by: jerry
September 16, 2010 "The issue is that the non-profit governing bodies were built to help the athletes, not exploit them."

Yes but the sponsorship money USAS generates by using the name and image of the athletes is where these funds for the swimmers originate in the first place. So in a sense it would be the athletes biting the hand that feeds them not the other way around. It seems USAS is under pressure from their sponsors to assure that they have these rights. They could decide to withdraw without it and USAS loses money and in turn the pool of money available for the swimmers is diminished.

I don't really see how the image of a swimmer is watered down simply by being used to promote swim meets or enhance the visibility of the sport. Remember part of USAS's mission is not only to help the athletes but increase the profile and participation in swimming. The fact is for most of them it also enhances their image with more exposure. Now if there's a direct conflict between an athlete's sponsor and a sponsor of USAS then that's tricky and more understandable. That's what it comes down to really. Conflicts of interest that exist or could potentially arise in the future in terms of sponsorship. But aside from these direct conflicts any extra exposure for the athletes, the sport, and the meets they compete in is a WIN WIN for both interests. If USAS advertises a meet with the image of a given swimmer it will help attract people that are fans of that athlete who may then in turn witness said athlete swim in the attire of a swimwear company that sponsors said athlete. There is no watering down when in fact you're not just increasing the profile of the sport you're increasing the profile of the athlete.

Now of course there may be the rare instance of athletes who don't benefit as much because their profile is already huge, which in this sport is still very few athletes. In fact no more than two or three spring to mind. I fear the athletes could be being mislead on this one. They need to protect their interests but I'm not so sure it's their personal interests at stake as it is a few interest groups in certain industries. It's not really the image of the athlete at stake as it is the corporate brand. It sounds like they may be sewing fear into the minds of swimmers about potential future losses. There's a corporate squeeze going on in this sport on both sides. It should come as no surprise that when the sport is awash in unprecedented levels of money that there's a feeding frenzy over it.

I would be very saddened to see the Golden Goggles boycotted. Garret, you used the term investment yourself. If they can turn that investment into more money then that's more funding available to the athletes. Personally, I think the way the event is staged is somewhat cheesy but it does give great exposure to the sport and the athletes. I would hate to see the sport cannibalize itself because of jockeying by sponsors on both sides. You know I think there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. It's just a feeling I have in my gut.



Submitted by: ShortChange
September 16, 2010 I mean, I don't think anyone needs to take anything personally as to whether the athletes deserve to get paid. I think we'd all like to see them paid more, and that seems to include the USOC, the debate is over what they need to do to earn it.

What about the ADVANTAGES that the athletes receive by signing a contract. Signing contracts keeps USA-Swimming from pulling the rug out from under them mid-season. Not everything about signing a contract is bad.

If this is truly a non-profit, then the marketing departments ONLY motivation can be to ensure the long-term stability of the organization, otherwise they're breaking their charter and the law. I just don't see it as an exploitation, given the non-profit nature of the program. The argument holds true in the NBA, because owners pocket any additional profits. In USA-S, they don't.

And I still haven't heard an argument that convinces me that these name-and-image usage will water down the athletes' brands for other endorsement opportunities, and without being convinced of that, the whole conflict is moot, is it not?

To me, the ideal solution is to offer it as an option, and not a requirement. At least in the short-term, while the powers that be negotiate other settlements, to ensure that some of these fringe-world medalists (who would still qualify for the stipend) can get the money that they deserve.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
September 16, 2010 "The issue is that the non-profit governing bodies were built to help the athletes, not exploit them."

Yes but the sponsorship money USAS generates by using the name and image of the athletes is where these funds for the swimmers originate in the first place. So in a sense it would be the athletes biting the hand that feeds them not the other way around. It seems USAS is under pressure from their sponsors to assure that they have these rights. They could decide to withdraw without it and USAS loses money and in turn the pool of money available for the swimmers is diminished.

I don't really see how the image of a swimmer is watered down simply by being used to promote swim meets or enhance the visibility of the sport. Remember part of USAS's mission is not only to help the athletes but increase the profile and participation in swimming. The fact is for most of them it also enhances their image with more exposure. Now if there's a direct conflict between an athlete's sponsor and a sponsor of USAS then that's tricky and more understandable. That's what it comes down to really. Conflicts of interest that exist or could potentially arise in the future in terms of sponsorship. But aside from these direct conflicts any extra exposure for the athletes, the sport, and the meets they compete in is a WIN WIN for both interests. If USAS advertises a meet with the image of a given swimmer it will help attract people that are fans of that athlete who may then in turn witness said athlete swim in the attire of a swimwear company that sponsors said athlete. There is no watering down when in fact you're not just increasing the profile of the sport you're increasing the profile of the athlete.

Now of course there may be the rare instance of athletes who don't benefit as much because their profile is already huge, which in this sport is still very few athletes. In fact no more than two or three spring to mind. I fear the athletes could be being mislead on this one. They need to protect their interests but I'm not so sure it's their personal interests at stake as it is a few interest groups in certain industries. It's not really the image of the athlete at stake as it is the corporate brand. It sounds like they may be sewing fear into the minds of swimmers about potential future losses. There's a corporate squeeze going on in this sport on both sides. It should come as no surprise that when the sport is awash in unprecedented levels of money that there's a feeding frenzy over it.

I would be very saddened to see the Golden Goggles boycotted. Garret, you used the term investment yourself. If they can turn that investment into more money then that's more funding available to the athletes. Personally, I think the way the event is staged is somewhat cheesy but it does give great exposure to the sport and the athletes. I would hate to see the sport cannibalize itself because of jockeying by sponsors on both sides. You know I think there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. It's just a feeling I have in my gut.



Submitted by: ShortChange
September 17, 2010 How does the left hand of USA Swimming (Schubert)go into a convention and not be on the same page as the right hand of the same organization (marketing? Forget the issue...not good.
Submitted by: S Freeze
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