Why so many Olympic hopefuls are running in all-black, unbranded gear

by | Jun 29, 2024 | Business

Christopher Royster, left, and JT Smith, athletes who participate in Bandit Running’s Unsponsored Project, at the 2024 Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.Courtesy: Bandit RunningThere’s an army of unsponsored athletes commanding attention at the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials this year, decked out in all-black, logo-less gear.The 35 athletes are supported by apparel company Bandit Running’s Unsponsored Project, an effort to challenge the standard sponsorship model for professional athletes and boost up-and-coming competitors.Unsponsored athletes in track and field would typically purchase their own apparel bearing the emblems of major brands, effectively providing free advertising for the companies. Instead, Bandit Running offers Olympic hopefuls the all-black kits and warmups — along with short-term endorsement deals.Bandit co-founder Tim West said the company is giving out at least 35 two-week deals for unsponsored runners at the trials, a U.S. Olympian’s gateway into the four-year games. The deals consist of unbranded apparel, a platform and cash to cover expenses. Last year, Bandit partnered with nine athletes.”We’re really hoping for a new sponsorship model where brands take a healthy piece of their budget and apply it to the kind of amateur, sub-elite athlete to help grow the sport. I think when you lift up, sort of the bottom, everything pushes up,” West told CNBC.Bandit’s deals have a built-in release clause, West said, allowing an easy out for athletes who get a traditional sponsorship offer during the trials.Given the high prices associated with competing, West said unsponsored athletes are “investing in themselves,” posing an opportunity for brands to step in and help out.And, the all-black, logo-free kits help call attention to which athletes may be available to strike a longer-term deal.Among them is Courtney Okolo, a 400-meter runner.After winning a gold medal in the 2 …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnChristopher Royster, left, and JT Smith, athletes who participate in Bandit Running’s Unsponsored Project, at the 2024 Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.Courtesy: Bandit RunningThere’s an army of unsponsored athletes commanding attention at the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials this year, decked out in all-black, logo-less gear.The 35 athletes are supported by apparel company Bandit Running’s Unsponsored Project, an effort to challenge the standard sponsorship model for professional athletes and boost up-and-coming competitors.Unsponsored athletes in track and field would typically purchase their own apparel bearing the emblems of major brands, effectively providing free advertising for the companies. Instead, Bandit Running offers Olympic hopefuls the all-black kits and warmups — along with short-term endorsement deals.Bandit co-founder Tim West said the company is giving out at least 35 two-week deals for unsponsored runners at the trials, a U.S. Olympian’s gateway into the four-year games. The deals consist of unbranded apparel, a platform and cash to cover expenses. Last year, Bandit partnered with nine athletes.”We’re really hoping for a new sponsorship model where brands take a healthy piece of their budget and apply it to the kind of amateur, sub-elite athlete to help grow the sport. I think when you lift up, sort of the bottom, everything pushes up,” West told CNBC.Bandit’s deals have a built-in release clause, West said, allowing an easy out for athletes who get a traditional sponsorship offer during the trials.Given the high prices associated with competing, West said unsponsored athletes are “investing in themselves,” posing an opportunity for brands to step in and help out.And, the all-black, logo-free kits help call attention to which athletes may be available to strike a longer-term deal.Among them is Courtney Okolo, a 400-meter runner.After winning a gold medal in the 2 …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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