Athletes On Independent Pro Teams And Federations Now Can Begin To Generate New Profits For Both Parties
In most minor league and independent league sports, the on-field talent (coaches and athletes) usually are seen as line item expenses rather than revenue streams. They exist as “commodities” (to some front office executives) and, therefore, are seen as expendable and interchangeable assets to:
- produce a winning team, which is just one part of the equation for generating “local, affordable family-friendly entertainment”
- show the local community that the talent cares enough by going to children’s hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
- sign autographs at local elementary school appearances in order to boost attendance at games
Having been on both sides of the equation (as a catcher and bullpen catcher in the independent baseball leagues and as a team & league executive) I can understand the feeling of being a “commodity” as an athlete once the novelty being a pro athlete wears off; and I can understand the need to look at the athletes as commodities from the team and league front office perspective since the players rarely generate profits by themselves.
New internet revenue methods, however, can begin to bridge that gap!
Athletes now can become more famous around town AND across the country… and teams and leagues can begin to generate profits as a direct result of how much a particular athlete hustles to market himself during the season and in the off-season.
Where This Idea Was Born
In recent years I had the opportunity to interview several professional wrestlers who ultimately became world champions. Their companies and promotions trusted them enough to be such “money draws” that they were worthy enough to carry the world heavyweight championships, tag team championships or manage those who would become those champions.
The premise of the interviews was to help those athletes who want to become pro wrestlers learn how to survive financially during the “lean years”. One the ways in which these athletes survive while constantly being on the road is to captivate the audience in the ring so much either before intermission (for the relatively unknown talents) or to have generated a name for themselves before the show starts, that during intermission (or after the show) all talent can sell merchandise of their likeness. T-shirts, promotional items tied to their gimmicks and autographed photos tend to be the big sellers with pro wrestling fans at the local level.
In most minor league professional sports, however, there is no “intermission” where the athletes can meet the fans. In most cases, there IS NO merchandise of the specific player or athlete!
What the athletes in these team and other professional sports do have, however, are:
- their roster pages on the team’s official websites
- video clips of their playing in games
- action shots of their playing in games
- team (or league/federation/promotion) press releases which go out every night after games are finished, and…
- … their own personal Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, LinkedIn and other social media properties
How Your Sports Team, League, Or Promotion Can Generate Money From This New Way Of Looking At Talent
We likely share the same mentality that most athletes coming out of the high school and college ranks today are more narcissistic and selfish than athletes several decades ago. They spend more time on smart phones, social media and other activities centered around them instead of asking you, the executive:
- “How can I help the team generate more profits?”
- “Where else can I go to promote the team?”
- “What can I do to learn the front office side of the business in case my career ends suddenly?”
While we all wish that this trend would change, sadly it won’t for a long time. At least you now have opportunities to take advantage of the current situation!
Today’s athlete hardly has any hesitation about promoting his or her own likeness on his social media pages and e-mail lists. He or she also will promote the team website’s roster page. The current day’s athlete also has the ability to promote himself or herself during travel time due to the mobile phone/smart phone technology.
Two things which Major League and other top-level national professional sports leagues, teams and promotions have – which the minor league and collegiate league entities do not – are:
- Infrastructures to generate, market and fulfill merchandise orders which feature the individual athletes.
- The athletes get paid to wear or use specific pieces of equipment or clothing during actual games & events
While it would be terrific to keep everyone happy at the minor league level if there were similar entities and infrastructures, sadly they do not exist in large scale… if at all! There are “work around” methods, however, which can replicate the same infrastructures if you know how to implement them.
You now have the ability to generate revenues on EACH athlete your team or promotion has under contract. There now exist ways to:
- take your profile/head shot photos of your athletes and make print-on-demand merchandise, even going so far as to give the player a percentage of the monies from his own likeness. Both the business and the specific athlete now can generate revenues
- the same for your action shots of the athletes during in-game competition
- videos of your athletes during actual games
- like the pro wrestlers mentioned earlier, your athletes who are good on camera now can have incentive to generate “hype” for an upcoming game, match, meet or series — and both your business and the athlete can make extra money in the process
None of these methods existed in the 1980’s when the “local, family-friendly entertainment” concept was perfected. Each now can help you, the professional/collegiate level sports owner or executive, with the following:
- increasing attendance (“butts in seats”) by leveraging these no-cost pieces of digital information
- helping to retain your talent as they now have can have an incentive-based contract which rewards them for ACTUAL SALES of merchandise, either their of their own likeness or of professional equipment
- generating actual dollars by player-specific merchandise sales
- generating actual dollars by your players promoting the specific equipment they use, leveraging the action shots and video clips of games in which they are playing
- generating actual dollars by your players promoting the specific clothing they wear, leveraging the same action shots
You can pursue these methods in many different ways, depending on your specific situation. Please contact us for help on these methods as you have to be careful in their implementation. The benefit to all of these is, with the exception of staff time “cost”, most of the methods will not incur a “hard cost” nor a line-item expense to the team’s budget!
We look forward to discussing with you these, and many other, new revenue streams to help your team, league or promotion.