The more positive press an athlete receives, the more likely he is to be offered endorsement deals. What does that translate to? Well at the extreme high end you have Michael Jordan who has not even participated in his sport of choice for several years and in 2014 earned an estimated $45 million in endorsement deals. But, let’s look at some of the variables in the equation and what athletes need to be aware of if they are looking to be more marketable.
How big is the fan base for your sport?
Obviously, the bigger your fan base in places like the United States, Europe, or South America, the more your name could be known. Being the best in the sport of curling is probably not likely to earn you big marketability – at least not currently. However, top athletes in women’s volleyball – not necessarily a huge fan base like the NFL or Soccer – have a certain sex appeal. Therefore, it can be a highly marketable sport.
What is your ranking?
Okay, even if you’re an NFL player, unless you and your team are doing great and you add a flare to the mix, you probably won’t score big on marketability. Say, you make it into People’s top 100 list – that would probably do it. Your chances improve if you’ve gold medaled in more than 1 Olympics and have a reasonably good appearance without any major negative press.
How well do you do in those after-game interviews?
We’re not just talking about how you look, but how well you speak. How engaging are you? Do the press chase you for comments after every game? These would be good signs of your marketability. If you aren’t showing so well, consider taking an improv class, working with a diction coach, or even join a speech group such as Toastmasters. There is nothing more painful than watching one of those interviews with an amazing and attractive athlete who opens his mouth and doesn’t know how to speak properly or easily.
Why worry about it?
Okay, so you aren’t Michael Jordan, but you have done a reasonable job in your field. Yay! But, let’s face it, even the luckiest athlete who never has any major injuries during his career only has a certain number of years to earn money. Endorsements while you are at the pinnacle of your play allow you to increase your income during those years. Investing proceeds wisely will make a beautiful retirement fund for you when you finish playing. And, the more time you can spend in endorsing and speaking, the more likely you’ll be marketable as a sportscaster, motivational speaker, or salesperson after your days as a professional athlete come to an end.
It only makes sense that you make the maximum use of your abilities in every way possible – don’t limit yourself to just earning while on your playing field.