The CrossFitter’s Guide to Getting Sponsored

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The CrossFitter’s Guide to Getting Sponsored

The realistic options for CrossFit-based sponsorships are going to be companies who produce stuff that is sold primarily within the community.
Sponsoring athletes was a simple thing five years ago. If a professional athlete was good enough, they could be seen promoting everything from cars to clothing. At the height of his career, Mickey Mantle simultaneously endorsed cigarettes (more than one brand over the course of his career) as well as programs to help people quit smoking. Let that sink in for a moment. He also endorsed an athlete’s foot spray, milk (a particular brand, not all milk), a car alarm, a megaphone, and a house alarm. He actually endorsed so many products he didn’t use that the Federal Trade Commission eventually put a stop to it.

Previously, à la Mickey Mantle, you had to be an accomplished athlete in a high-profile sport to merit a lucrative sponsorship deal; however, social media has changed all of that. People can become “Instagram Famous” for taking a ton of selfies and wind up endorsing the same products as dog-abusing quarterbacks.

Since I’ve never worked for a cigarette company  (or a company that helps you stop using them), I can’t provide any insight into what might land you a deal there. But I’ve spent the past decade working in the supplement industry, so I can probably give you a good idea of what those companies (and fitness-based companies in general) are looking for. Supplement companies are far more likely than cigarette companies to sponsor CrossFitters, so this probably increases my odds of helping you land a sponsor. This is important because…

You are not Mickey Mantle.

You are not Mickey Mantle.
The realistic options for CrossFit-based sponsorships are going to be companies who produce stuff that is sold primarily within the community. Realistically this means limiting our field of potential advertisers to companies who sell equipment, clothing, supplements, or other miscellaneous workout items. I guess an argument can be made that Oakley is sold to pretty much everyone, but to my knowledge they have sponsored exactly one CrossFitter and he’s the current and 3-time champion of the CrossFit Games. For everyone else, we’ll need to focus on getting you sponsorship from a company within the industry.

This distinction is important, as there’s a huge difference between endorsing equipment or a dietary supplement versus sunglasses or cola. See, when you appear in an advertisement telling people that you love Protein X, your athletic prowess (or maybe just your latest victory) is assumed to be (at least partly) attributable to the benefits of that protein powder. Perhaps it’s your expertise as an athlete or coach giving you the credibility to say Protein X is better than the rest. Whatever the case may be, endorsing equipment or supplements is far different than endorsing a soft drink (or underwear or whatever), as nobody makes the assumption that it’s making you a better athlete.

If you’re in the hunt for a sponsor, training and competing are already like a second job, so put all of that information together in the same format you’d use if you were applying for traditional employment.
Ok, so you’re not a 3-time CrossFit Games champion, and you’re not Mickey Mantle. So who are you — or more to the point, at whom is this article directed? Here I’m talking mostly to the second-tier CrossFit athletes: people who do very well at their local throwdowns and/or make it to Regionals consistently, etc. In other words, you’re someone who is a very good local level competitor. If you’re not a very good local competitor, then your first step is to become one. For everyone else, the first step is…

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