Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I was just sent a contract that Australian swimmers are suppose to sign if they want to swim in the Pan Pacific Championships!
The beast of a document is 29-pages long and after a fast glance it essentially says: We so own you and we are going to leverage your talent for every dollar we can. You are not allowed to think freely, dress freely, write freely, work freely, or self promote freely, because you are owned by the "company store!"
I will read it fully and completely tonight but here are some points that stand out.
Team members cannot communicate with the media unless they wear a team uniform and they can only talk about their events, their prospects and their performances while at the event itself; nothing else.
If a team member has a blog and he wants to talk about "team content", all advertising on their blog has to be removed unless they are Swimming Australia sponsors.
Team members are not allowed to be sponsored by a competitor of the Swimming Australia sponsors and one of them just happens to be Speedo. Consequently, you can't be sponsored by a rival brand unless you fill out a bunch a paper work and demonstrate that the brand is faster. Now how do you do that?
Now it gets worse: Let's say a telecom wants to sponsor you; forget it, It is not allowed because Telstra sponsors Swimming Australia. Since Telstra has an internet presence, this sponsorship precludes the athletes from being sponsored by internet companies both domestic and international which sell products, services, equipment etc. etc. This also includes online portals such as Yahoo or Google, blogs, movies, video games, children-sites, and more.
Let's say a brokerage house, an insurance vendor, a mortgage bank, a credit card company wants to sponsor you: It's not allowed unless Swimming Australia allows it after you fill out a "schedule 2" which definitely sounds formidable. I would love to get a hold of that form for I wonder if Swimming Australia would demand a cut?
I may make this contract available as a download. When you view it you will marvel at how a national governing body can bring a swimmer to their knees "voluntarily" just so that they can swim. I need to talk to a lawyer first before I make it available and I do have a lawyer who was the chief strategist for Sketchers (the shoe company), and he is partnering with me for the new swimming news site which will go live on July 1st. If he says, I can publish this, I am going to put it up.
Swimming Australia athletes work hard for their daily bread, same goes for all the world's swimmers. I think it is time we look at the culture within the sport at large and put a spot light on how athletes are treated, how underpaid they are, and what they have to do to be able to swim. To me this "voluntary" servitude is akin to working as a "share cropper."
I don't know what Swimming Australia's budget is. USA Swimming makes about $30-million a year and it's head boss, Chuck Wielgus, gets 2% off-the-top of each million-dollars the organization brings in. Recently, the Organization is talking about giving pro swimmers a $50,000 a year salary but will this salary set our athletes up to sign contracts that suppress speech, suit choice leveraging their income? This is something for the sports agent to really look at? [Link]
What I really want is for athletes, coaches, suit manufacturers, meet directors, and even the agents to make as much money as they can. "Industrial age" contracts like the one that was sent to me is not going to deliver a wage comparable to the salary that the CEO of USA Swimming and probably Australia Swimming is going to make.