I feel like we’ve written extensively about our support of professional endurance sports athletes and was hesitant to even write this blog about our pro signings for 2015. Then someone on the team made two very good points that changed my mind. This someone (who shall be nameless) told me (1) to not kid myself and think that our blogs were read by that many people, and (2) that the issue was important enough to us that we should risk a little redundancy on the topic.
After, some reflection, I decided that Kebby was right. So without further a *ado, Coeur is thrilled to share details on our first set of pro signings for 2015! Now, before we share the list of great athletes we’ll be working with, we want to shed some light on our thinking. As we have mentioned, we believe pros not only work incredibly hard but that they also have an enormous amount of (generally) untapped potential to serve as role models and to draw others into endurance sports. We know that the relatively low pay in terms of hard dollars (or pounds, euros, yen, etc.) causes issues and we suspect that they have very little time to think about how to get others off the couch and on the running trail (or the road, or in the pool) when rent is due, they have to book their hotel for their next race, and they have another job to go to so they can make ends meet.
Our hope is that if we can find a way to help pros earn more, we can free up some time for them to become true ambassadors for endurance sports. Now, as a young company, we’re not in a position to pay them enough to live on all by ourselves but we can still try to make a difference.
That’s why we’ve committed to doing four things related to our pro deals this year. They are:
1. Guaranteeing cash in every deal. The numbers aren’t huge (yet) because we’re still getting our feet underneath us but cash is cash and all of our deals are structured so that they pay out even if the athlete is injured and regardless of results. The guaranteed cash is on top of podium bonuses, media bonuses and the like.
2. Increasing the cash component of every deal. In general the cost of living goes up and we think compensation should too. Plus, we really want to be able to move from dollar figures that fall into the symbolic range to figures that can start to actually support someone. That’s why we’ve increased the guaranteed cash component for all of our athletes that were with us last year. We’ll do the same thing again the next year, and the next.
3. Calling on others in the industry to do the same. Again, it’s financially impossible for us as a small start up to pay enough for athletes to live and train full time. We live for the day, when we have a different economic reality but for now, we’re playing the hand we’re dealt. That’s why, in addition to doing what we can, we are suggesting, encouraging and hoping that other sponsors will consider doing the same. If all an athlete’s sponsors had guaranteed cash, we think (in aggregate) the numbers might start to make a real impact. Now, this isn’t all altruism. We do see a way to make the numbers “pencil out” so to speak. To do that, ultimately, everyone needs to benefit that’s why we’re also…
4. Asking our pros to encourage others to live a lifestyle of health and fitness. This one is “soft” in that we didn’t put it in the contracts and try to quantify the benefits but we are a letting our pros know that we’d like them to be ambassadors for endurance sports. Clearly, we want them to promote Coeur but that is all covered in the actual agreement. In addition to any contractual obligations, it is our sincere desire that each of our pros will find some way to promote sports, fitness, and the benefits that come from a healthy lifestyle. It could be as simple as adding notes of encouragement to their responses when fans email them or as big as running a camp for beginners. We’re fine with those or anything in between. We just want them to know the being an ambassador for health and fitness is really, really important to us and we want them to try and be a role model to others. If enough of them do this, the growth of new entrants to the sport grows and…voila…everyone benefits!
By the way, we did pay attention in econ 101 and have a decent understanding of free markets. We know that many would argue that market forces should theoretically determine the “Market Clearing Price” and that some say the pros they are paid precisely what they are worth. In fact, we shared our thoughts on that in this post we submitted to Triathlon Business International.
The very short version of that blog is “We hope/believe the conventional thinking is wrong and that while pros may be paid for what they are currently doing, they are not being paid for what they could be doing.” And what they could be doing is very beneficial to everyone involved. Yes, yes, we know there’s a chicken or egg element here but we’ll save that debate for another day.
For what it’s worth, we’ve thought long and hard about our beliefs and this (for better or worse) is where we’ll make our stand. We believe pros matter and we’re going to continue advocating for them.
Ok, time to get off our little soap box. We don’t want to muddy the water by talking too much about the philosophical/theoretical side of this issue and as a consequence take away anything from the amazing women we’ve signed this year. So, we’ll stop here for this blog and follow up in the near future with details on the incredible group of ladies we’ll be working with in 2015.
Coming up in Part II of this blog, we’ll introduce you to the Coeur team of professionals for 2015.
Until next time, Happy Training and Racing Everyone!
Your friends at Coeur.
* Oh, before we go. Did you see the asterisk next to the word “ado” above? We almost used the word "adieu" but were lucky enough to catch the mistake. Interestingly, substituting adieu for "ado" is what linguists call an eggcorn. It’s when people confuse two words that sound the same. This has absolutely nothing to do with our blog. We just came across the term as we were proofreading and thought it was an interesting (and perhaps tasty) word.