Professional athletes are increasingly seeking out the right agents to help them develop their off the court brands. Those agents are not always the ones who are negotiating their team contracts. The most recent example of this emerging trend is NCAA Basketball National Player of the Year and Top NBA prospect, Trey Burke. Burke’s father, Benji Burke, of Infinite Sports Concepts, will handle Burke’s NBA team contract, but The Legacy Agency (“TLA”), a full service sports agency that has positioned itself as a leader in talent marketing, will manage all of his off the court endeavors including marketing, endorsements, speaking engagements, and appearances.
One of the “must see” sports every time the summer Olympics rolls around is women’s gymnastics. From Mary Lou Retton and Keri Strug to Gabrielle Douglas and Dominique Dawes, every four years produces a new darling of American sports marketing. However once the limelight fades and winter comes, many of those who compete in gymnastics go back to their training, or move on to coaching without a sustainable or viable opportunity to reach their fans and increase their professional value consistently. There are national and international championships, and for the best of the best, there is usually a tour, but for the most part, unlike sports like beach volleyball and even figure skating, gymnasts leave the sports scene until the Olympic rings come calling again.
At its inception in 1993, AND1 set out to change the landscape of basketball by bringing those in the shadow, into the spotlight. They brought notoriety to those who innovated on the court, stayed true to their style, and exuded passion for the game that was contagious. AND1 created a brand of basketball that became instantly iconic in the 90’s. The Mix Tapes became an immediate craze, showcasing streetballers and ballhandling, and eventually, some of the best dunkers in America. People like Air Up There, Helicopter, and Spyda were creators in this space, throwing down unimaginable dunks and inspiring kids everywhere to perfect their 'around the world' move. Off the court, the brand’s popularity skyrocketed. Everybody owned one of the “Trash Talk” t-shirts with sayings like “Check the want ads, your game needs work” across the front. In 2000, the AND1 Tai Chi shoes were arguably the most popular at the time, especially after Vince Carter wore them while putting on a clinic at the Slam Dunk Contest that year.
If you walked through the stands at Chase Field in Phoenix this past week you saw what the vision was for the World Baseball Classic. Lines formed at concession stands where fans of every ethnic background purchased hats, T-shirts, and other fan apparel, not of the hometown Diamondbacks, but of Mexico, USA, Italy and Canada. Want a Ryan Braun shirt? Get Team USA on the front. While sitting in the stands you heard people conversing in French, Italian, Spanish, and other languages. Is baseball America’s pastime or the world’s? If you are MLB, maybe a little of both.
If you woke up this morning and said “I have an idea that will create a bond between the governments of Russia, Cuba, the United States and Iran,” maybe the guess would be something about averting a cataclysmic event like an asteroid crash or a plague. Maybe it would be about another crisis like children’s health. You probably would not have guessed that the idea would be…wrestling. Yes, wrestling.
On February 12, the International Olympic Committee announced that they were going to trim the number of core sports for the 2020 Games by one. Many thought the candidates would be a sport like the pentathlon, not exactly a big ratings or revenue driver and not a sport with a big following. However the sport announced was wrestling, one of the Games’ original contests and one that has garnered some of the greatest stories and medals in the history of the Olympics. While few doubt the history of the sport, many pointed to the lack of leadership at the international level of the sport as to whom wrestling shockingly had its fate handed to them last month.