New Rule Allows Track & Field Athletes To Display Logos On Uniforms
A new international rule that went into effect Sunday will give professional track and field athletes “greater opportunity to display logos on their uniforms,” according to Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. The athletes hope it will “enhance their chances of attracting corporate sponsorships to help finance their careers in a sport struggling for visibility and credibility.” The rule, which “permits a second corporate logo in addition to a clothing/shoe-company logo on singlets, is viewed as a welcome first step.” Sports agent Ray Flynn said the new logo rule “is a step in the right direction, but the bigger issue is that we need a greater number of sponsors.” Flynn: “Outside the shoe companies, there have not been a lot of companies wanting to get involved in the sport.” Track athletes with “salaried shoe contracts seem unlikely to benefit immediately from the new logo rule.” Companies like Nike, adidas and Reebok, which “provide the financial spine of the sport by spending tens of millions of dollars a year, want exclusivity to protect their brands.” Agents and track officials said that these companies will “very likely prohibit a second logo on singlets or offer smaller contracts to share space, except perhaps for select superstars with clout, athletes.” U.S. Gold Medal-winning discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton said athletes with shoe-company sponsorships will “have to determine whether they want to give that up to have multiple sponsorships.” Brown Trafton: “Most will take the main sponsor. It will pay more.” U.S. runner Nick Symmonds said, “I love Nike, but at the same time it’s important to remember that athletes are not employees of shoe companies; they’re independent contractors. It hurts my leverage if the shoe company has a monopoly over advertising dollars.” But agent Mark Wetmore said that athletes should “be careful what you wish for.” Wetmore: “If the shoe companies went away, you could have 100 logos and nobody would be as well off as they are today” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/31).