The biggest benefit of sponsorship should be less about financial gain for the sponsor or a free ride for the triathlete and more about the pro triathlete the sponsor and the journey.
After all, everyone involved wants to see the sport of triathlon thrive and continue to grow and the best way to do that is to look beyond the obvious and look at the big picture and the less recognized benefits of sponsorship.
THE PRO TRIATHLETE
There is no doubt that being a pro triathlete and trying to excel against the best in the world is a tough road for many to travel.
This is especially true if the end-goal is to win enough points to earn a coveted spot in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships and making it to the big show in Kona.
In order to qualify it means traveling to perhaps a half-dozen or more Ironman races. Gone are the days when there were only a handful of WTC races to choose from.
Now there are dozens and dozens of full Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races in stunning venues all over the world.
Just getting there is a costly exercise, but that’s only half the battle.
The difference between being first or second or perhaps fourth or fifth in an Ironman race might often seem to come down to who has the lightest, most expensive bike, the sleekest high-end wetsuit, and the latest in racing gear.
But just perhaps there’s more to it than that for the pro triathlete.
Having a sponsor means you have someone on your side who must really believe in you. Maybe it’s the final push a pro triathlete needs in order to show what they are truly capable of.
It must truly feel good to go into a race actually being sponsored when there are thousands of other amateur and pro triathletes on their own with nobody willing to take a leap of faith and help them attain their triathlon dream.
Pros accustomed to being on the podium and the ones most likely finding sponsorship might feel undue pressure and a responsibility to perform in order to justify their sponsorship perks.
However there are also those pros who simply want to do well as a way of recognizing the opportunity given to them by the sponsor who was willing to take a chance on them.
In these cases it is not just cash and the best of gear that gives them wings and almost inadvertently they simply become more successful out of a sense of gratitude as opposed to pressure to perform.
There are hundreds of retail brands and websites that count on triathletes purchasing their products and services so they can make a profit and stay in business.
Competition for the triathlete dollar is fierce among bike manufacturers, triathlon retail outlets, coaching websites, and the creators of the latest in nutritional products.
The key to having a successful brand and staying competitive in the market-place is often determined by how many visitors you can draw to your website or entice to walk through the door of your store.
It only makes sense that the main reason companies sponsor pro triathletes is centered around how they can increase traffic flow and ultimately help ensure the profitability of the bottom line.
But just maybe there is more to it than that for some sponsors.
Just perhaps there is a realization by some sponsors that a pro who is struggling financially may simply decide to give up on the sport.
In that situation nobody wins.
In order to perpetuate the sport of triathlon it seems incumbent on the owners of triathlon brands who are more than happy to have triathletes click on their ads and buy their products to do everything they can to ensure the longevity of the sport.
It shouldn’t matter if the pro is one of the best in the world or a long-shot to earn enough points to make it to Kona.
What is truly important is that by backing a pro triathlete of any level of ability a sponsor is perpetuating the sport and giving something back in recognition of all those triathletes who purchase their products on a regular basis and ensure the success of their company and brand.
Perhaps even more compelling is the opportunity to share in the journey of an athlete who just perhaps will realize their dreams and goals because of your generosity.
In doing so an athlete may almost inadvertently help you become more successful as an enterprise because of their desire to compete at their best simply because you believed in them and as they grow and succeed, so will your brand.