Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey Pro Swimmers: Chinese tennis star Li Na is making $42-million a year and she isn't selling just tennis rackets!

This post is for pro swimmers only. Memo to you: Forget suit manufacturers go to people like Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Proactiv or Armani. Then throw in some car companies, insurance carriers and such. Also give these guys a call...

"... Li Na, the first Chinese player to win a major tennis title, [The French Open] is set to become the world’s second-highest earning female athlete after signing endorsement contracts worth at least US $42 million. [...]

"We could do five more endorsement deals but she just doesn’t have the time," said [Max] Eisenbud, a vice president at... IMG ... who signed Li in November 2009. “It’s incredible."


Damn straight it is incredible!

I wish you luck I want you all rich!


TedBaker said...

Smartest thing you've said. Forget the suit guys. No real money there any way.

The demographics of swimming are pretty good: Upper middle class families, healthy, fitness and sports oriented.

Go for insurance companies, car companies (Check out the number of minivans in the parking lot of a age group meet!) and lifestyle clothing companies. More money there!

Tony Austin said...

Smartest thing you ever said is that you agree with me. ;-P

Anonymous said...

I thought they already try to do this. Seen non-swimwear endorsements around. Cars, jewellery, chocolate, energy, etc.

Swimming just isn't as big and as popular as tennis. There are four slams a year, each of which are prestigious to win, while swimming is really an 'Olympic sport' and hasn't really been developed so much to appeal to the fans and public.

Tony Austin said...

true but their are surfers who do quite well that IMG represents and there are more swimmers than surfers

Anonymous said...

As a fan (and its a safe bet the only non-olympic year fans are ex-swimmers) I agree with everything you say.

As a business owner, I would want someone recognizable to my audience. Most every year round swimmer in the Detroit area probably knows who PVK is. If he shows up at an age group meet he'd be signing autographs all weekend.

If I marched him through my office he's just another tall skinny guy. As would everyone else be on the national team, with the exception of Phelps, because he's won 14 olympic golds.

I would find it hard to believe swimmer's agents haven't thought of all this before and aren't trying to book as many sponsors as possible.

Lets face it, swimming as it currently exists, is not a very audience friendly sport. Once the race starts the swimmers are generally unidentifiable, the lanes are generally not identified, and the casual viewer probably has no idea how many laps are left.

The swimming community, needs to make the sport bigger than just 8 days every 4 years. I'm just not sure how. I suppose that's why Wielgus gets the big bucks.

Anonymous said...

Surfing has been marketed brilliantly as a "lifestyle." Swimming should do the same. Besides, how many swimmers are signed with IMG or CAA?

Tony Austin said...

My surf rant begins: I began surfing during the "Z-Boys" era and learned how to surf at Bay Street in Santa Monica; the same place they surfed at. In fact I still surf but I prefer Zuma since the water is extraordinarily clean.

Surfing use to be a lifestyle, most notably in the 1970s. Surfers like Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton turned it into a spectacle. They leverage that spectacle or "life style" into clothing lines much like skate boarders did to the point that when you walk into a surf shop it's 90% of the shop is clothes, glasses and accessories. The surfboards are usually on the back wall.

Swimming is a lifestyle too but there is no Laird Hamilton or Kelly Slater because as you say there isn't a pro-league or venue to create that spectacle.

USA Swimming has no plans to create that spectacle. There job is to provide an Olympic team and they don't want to deal with pros.

Sarah G said...

The swim meet format needs to change. The average American needs to know who was #1 in head to head, grueling competition. And who is #1 for the year. 24 events and 24 winners is something to make lots of winners, good for children and parents. It's not why we follow professional sports. I have more ideas, because I actually spend too much time thinking about strange stuff like this.

brock said...

Its good to see females competing at such a high level.

Anonymous said...


How come you disabled the comment section on your blog?

Tony Austin said...

I am going to be presumptuous and answer for her, because she has been threatened viciously and insulted. Whereas I have the wherewithal to defend myself legally, Sarah is a retired school teacher.

Sarah G said...

I didn't realize I had disabled them. I restarted my blog, and never turned them on. When I realized it I left them off because I received some offensive comments. I'll reconsider, or I may post my email address.
I'm not a retired schoolteacher, I taught SwimAmerica at Northside for 2 summers, and coached for 3 weeks.

Sarah G said...

I follow swimming a little bit. But I didn't realize there was professional swimming. Seriously, is there prize money and rankings? I thought most swim meets were just practice for the Olympics. I don't mean to insult swimmers. It's just not well publicized. I follow tennis on; there's a tab for tennis. I can check all tournaments, not just the grand slams. I can check rankings, prize money, statistics. Do swimmers have that?

Tony Austin said...

no, they don't follow swimming

Anonymous said...

There's the FINA website but it's very un-fan-friendly. It didn't get updated regularly last time I looked and it's awkward finding the rankings. Just generally not attractive or 'hooking' for fans at all.

Tony Austin said... has rankings

I have not given up on my quixotic quest to elevate the standard of living of swimmers but I have given up on FINA and USA Swimming.

Personally I find both organizations; and even ASCA, to be money motivated, politically appointed, organizations who enrich themselves on the backs of 12-to-13-year-old swimmers or rarely paid professional athletes and/or the coaches who generally hover in the lower middle-class to poverty income levels.

Swimming could become tennis but it has to be changed greatly/ That includes brackets to a final and only two lanes. Also, the action has to be viewed under water where most of the work takes place. It also needs gambling.

Sarah G said...

Swimmers really have to change the format of swim meets to get more people following them. We want a clear winner at each swim meet. If we hear on the news that Michael Phelps got beat in 1 or 2 events we don't know what that means. If Serena Williams gets beat in the 2nd round, we know how that affects her prize money, her ranking, and whether she'll be the #1 seed in the next tournament. That makes sense to us. We don't know what Michael Phelps performance means, so we just assume it's just practice for the Olympics, and we'll pay attention then.