Types of Sponsorships Given to Individual Players

In the previous article, we have already seen that sponsorship is one of the predominant ways in which a sports league can generate revenues. However, it is important to note that sponsorships can happen at various levels.

For instance, sponsorship can be given to an individual, a team, or even an entire sports league. In each of these cases, the types of sponsorships and the types of events will vary.

For example, individual sponsorship is more prevalent in individual-led games such as tennis. It is common for high-ranking individual players to get sponsorship when they play in tournaments such as Wimbledon.

In this article, we will have a look at the various types of sponsorships given to individual players as well as how it impacts the overall finance of the league.

  1. Jersey Sponsorship: The apparel worn by sportspersons while playing the sport as well as during practice is colloquially referred to as the jersey. Ideally, jersey refers to the shirt only. However, in practice, jerseys can include the entire apparel.

    Many times, sponsors pay individual athletes to use the jersey with their logo and branding. This is beneficial to the sponsor since their brand gets exposed to a large audience both on television as well as live in the stadium. Jersey sponsorship is the most basic form of sponsorship agreement which takes place in sporting events.

  2. Kit Sponsorship: Kit sponsorship is the next form of sponsorship after jersey sponsorship. In this sponsorship, the sponsor does not only sponsor the jersey i.e. the apparel but they sponsor the entire ensemble including sporting equipment and kit. This type of sponsorship is common in team games as well as individual games.

    For instance, it is common for car companies to sport expensive equipment such as cars and driving equipment in exchange for having the right to place their logo on this equipment in Formula One. Such type of sponsorship is also common in team events such as football and rugby.

    Many times, manufacturers of sporting bicycles have also sponsored famous cyclists in order to undertake cross-country biking expeditions. Manufacturers of sports equipment around the world are interested in sponsoring key athletes in big events since it gives increased visibility to their products.

  3. Nutritional Sponsorship: There are many nutritional supplement companies across the world that manufacture products that are consumed by budding sportspeople. These budding sportspersons i.e. the potential target market for brands closely follow the actions of certain elite athletes. Hence, in such cases, brands tie up with such elite athletes by taking care of their nutritional needs for free in return for using the athletes in their marketing and advertisements.

    The brands obtain positive publicity in front of a concentrated target market. On the other hand, individual sponsors are able to focus on training and practice without having to spend money on their nutritional needs.

  4. Travel Expenses Sponsorships: There are many young athletes who are highly talented and want to take part in sporting events across the world. However, they face financial constraints and are not able to attend some of these events due to the unavailability of a travel budget.

    In such cases, corporate sponsors may be ready to bear the expenses of the athlete in exchange for having the right to use the athlete’s name and brand image for marketing purposes.

The fact of the matter is that individual sponsorships have the lowest economic value. Over the years, individual sponsorship has largely been replaced by brand endorsements which will be discussed later on in this module. This is because of the fact that individuals do not have as much bargaining power as a team or a league.

Hence, it is common for corporations to offer very low compensation during negotiations. The athletes are unable to negotiate a higher compensation since they have limited bargaining power. However, individual sponsorships are good for budding athletes who have not yet proven themselves and have become a well-known brand name.

It also needs to be understood that even though individual sponsorship is a direct contract between an individual and a league, it is common for leagues to get involved.

Many times, franchisors of sporting leagues oversee the sponsorship process and take a commission of the proceeds. Athletes do not seem to mind this arrangement since the presence of the league as a mediator helps them obtain a better sponsorship deal.


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Sports Management