Friday, May 16, 2008

Premier Management Group makes a statement!

Evan Morgenstein is the president of a company called Premier Management Group, They are a sports talent agency who represent everybody from Amanda Beard to Erik Vendt. Obviously their job is to negotiate the best deal they can for the athletes they represent and now they refuse to do business with TYR.

Morgenstein sent out an email to SwimNews which stated: "I felt like it was time as a company to make a statement. We will continue to work with our athletes who work with TYR and make sure they get what they need, but in the future we will not be pursuing them." [Link]

He goes on to say that Erik Vendt did NOT violate his contract by wearing a Speedo at the Long Beach Grand Prix while under contract with TYR and after hearing that I sincerely think that any sophisticated reader has questions about that statement.

Morgenstein predicts a backlash from the swim community over this treatment of Vendt and he couldn't be more right about a backlash but it isn't going to be about Erik Vendt. It is going to be, and has been, all about USA Swimming for-profit deals.

One such deal with the Wasserman Media Group led to the pulling of Flowswimming's Floswimming's media credential which annoyed not just the bloggers but just about every swimmer that has ever been to Flowswimming's Floswimming.

We're going to be seeing a backlash from swim suit manufacturers too; (starting with this TYR lawsuit), who do not appreciate a non-profit, National Governing Body favoring one brand over another due to the amount of cash that particular brand pours into the USA Swimming's coffers.

For instance USAS allows no other swimsuit company save for Speedo to advertise in their Splash Magazine. Speedo has banner ads on the USAS site, a Speedo branded tip of the week article and recently we have all heard the National team coach seriously pimp Speedo while never mentioning that he was on the Speedo payroll. (See TYR Brief).

The aforementioned is a big deal for legally, a non-profit is not allowed to profit from the subject of their non-profit. That is why teachers have bake sales instead of tutoring students in exchange for cash. Hence, USA Swimming can't let this go to court. If they do then a judge will tear into their bank account and neither Congress nor FINA would like that.

I suspect this lawsuit will be settled before Beijing or else the public will see how USAS does business. Though I am hoping we do!

So, unlike Swim Network which is owned by the Wasserman Media Group, or Swim News that is very pro Speedo, I am rooting for TYR since this isn't about Speedo, it's about the for-profit tactics of USAS.

Here is a Reuters overview: [Link]


Chong said...

THANK YOU for educating us on this topic. I am glad to learn a lot about the sport of swimming and its political wrong doings. We need the truth, keep it up. Thank you.

Chong said...

Bad link for "http://http//".

Merritt Johnson said...

I can't say that I know the intimate details of the situation, but I am not so sure Erik Vendt had a TYR contract after he returned from retirement. After the '04 Olympics I remember him saying something about having a year left on his TYR deal. When the contract ended they might have continued to pay him for use of his image and continued to send him some product, but I am not certain there was a renewed deal in writing. If there was it might have had clauses that let him do whatever he wanted. Regardless, for sure, the obligations he had worked out with TYR were different after his comeback than they were previously.

As for Schubert in the whole mess... It is a certainty that he favors Speedo. He brought on Speedo at USC and encouraged developing feel for the race suits during practices. Now as for the 2% statement, it comes from the reduction in drag. The suit reduces a swimmer's drag coefficient by 2%. Now how that translates into overall performance can be vastly different per person. I don't think Shubert is wrong for saying that, just that he seems to be rather close minded to the developments going on at other manufacturers.

I am a few years removed from USC and having close contact to Vendt and Schubert, but I did spend some time in that world in the run up to Athens. Vendt is a very loyal person. I am not sure that he would consciously hurt those who had been good to him. Schubert just wants swimmers to go fast. He got it in his head long ago that Speedo is the only way though.

There are a lot of changes USA Swimming could make as an organization. The top positions could really use some new blood. To me it seems that a lot of the decision making folks at USA Swimming have been immersed in the swimming world for too long. Taking a look outside the bubble, and seeing how others approach similar issues in very different fields could open up some minds. They could really use a TRIZ class.

Tony Austin said...

The link has been fixed, thank you Chong. :-)

Merritt, The word contract was used by both TYR and PMG so I am making the assumption that he is still signed in some way. If he wasn't, PMG would have said the contract was invalid or non-existent. Just an opinion and as you know I am biased.

I want to make it clear that I don't think Erik Vendt is a "villian" in any way. I have said elsewhere that I think he was bamboozled or caught up in the rhetoric, or the mass hysteria if you will, just like the German team has regarding the Speedo Lzr.

Shubert was his coach, perhaps his friend and now the pinnacle of any coaches career, coach of the National team. That brand carries a lot of weight, and when he speaks people are going to listen.

When coach Shubert shouted out with USA Swimming, and the USOC standing behind him that if you don't wear a Speedo, you are going to lose, that had consequences.

I doubt the German team knew that Shubert was a paid shill for Speedo and even Laure Manaudou mentioned suit anxiety over her loss in the 400m.

But please consider what else USAS had wrought: USAS swimming has given us WMG, the revoking of Flowswimming media credential, and the potential toppling of just about any swim manufacturer due to a Speedo bias. That is why I am taking sides because they are in need of correction.

As for the reduction in drag, it is still 2% of what? Is 2% better than the FS II Pro or 2% better than naked skin?

I have a feeling that so many factors are involved such as suit saturation, fitting, technique and body shape that a 2% number could be meaningless.

Every body, and every media organization has internal biases. Coach Shubert is a great coach and he probably adores the SPeedo brand. But when you get paid for having a specific bias, it becomes dangerous if that bias is not made known and that applies to me too and that is why I do not accept gifts or sell advertising whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

its "floswimming" not "flowswimming"

Anonymous said...

Vendt came out of retirement and selected TYR as his sponsor of choice. Being on the pool deck this week I believe I now understand the story. It wasn't that Erik wanted out of his contract, but rather he wanted to wear Speedo and still be paid by TYR. That is unfortunate to hear becuase as much as we like to think of swimming as an amateur sport, he was indeed a paid athlete who signed a contract. And that TYR has apparently assisted in financing Erik's dream for some time now is unfair to them.

The real issue to me is that a head coach can be paid by a manufacturer and then make negative comments about the other manufacturer's products. It's one thing if Speedo markets directly to consumer, but another to use the head coach.

It's too bad that someone like Erik got caught up in all of this, but it's not about him. Someone should look into USA Swimming and ask some serious questions.

Fair competition is healthy for all of swimming. Why not include all voices?

Tony Austin said...

Yep, I spelled Flowswimming wrong. My bad. thanks for the catch. :-)

Tony Austin said...

anonymous, thanks for the insight. I figured since both Evan M., the president of PMG and the TYR lawyer mentioned the word contract, one would think it would not be okay to wear a Lzr instead of a TYR.

Again, I think Erik wants to win a gold medal and he thinks Speedo is it but he made a decision that has consequences.

I bet TYR would drop the suit against him if USAS capitulated and would agree to not be a proxy in trying to set up swim suit monopoly for Speedo.