December 27, 2011 Sports sponsorships are a major part of the sporting industry today. For professional athletes or those who are planning on going all the way, whether it is to the Olympics or pro arena, a sports sponsorship can mean the difference between failure and success. Companies offer endorsements as a sports marketing strategy, promoting their own interests and in turn, assisting the reputation of the athlete and associated sport. Becoming a professional athlete, or remaining established, can be expensive with the need for costly equipment and travel. Daily training sessions and coaching are also major investments that an individual may not be able to afford without the assistance of a sponsor. For professionals, certain sports, such as race car driving, rely on sponsors to keep the drivers on the track. Endorsements for other sports can mean great profits for the athlete and the sponsor as well. It is a cooperative relationship intended to benefit both. Sports marketing is wide open and companies offering a sports sponsorship can be creative in their approach. Athletes can wear clothing that bears the company name while they are visible to the public at training or competitive events. Use of a company’s product is another big push in endorsements for athletes. Often, athletes will be seen using a particular brand of equipment to advertise for their sponsor. Food and beverage companies and any type of business may choose to offer sports sponsorships. In turn, the athlete needs to promote the product or business. Athletes do a service in return for a sports sponsorship in many ways. Photo shoots that are used on posters, billboards, and magazines are one way to go. Special appearances that promote the business are another popular trend where athletes speak about the product, sign autographs, and allow photos to be taken. It is generally free for the public and gives the sponsor attention as well as the athlete. Commercials on television are one of the most popular ways that a connection is made visible between an athlete and a sponsor. When a popular athlete is linked on television with a product, sales go up.