Consultant: Players Unions Need “Dose of Reality”

Is athlete endorsement money drying up? Ever since Tiger Woods split with GM last week, there is concern among super-wealthy athletes that they might have to start settling for earning just the millions they get for playing their sport. The horror.

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But the economic troubles are not just hitting the endorsement market. With the NBA and NFL collective bargaining agreements up for renewal in the next couple of years, one sports consultant is saying that players associations are going to need a “dose of reality” or face not having a league to play in anymore.

The best info in this story by the AP’s Eddie Pells (by way of NBCSPORTS.COM) is buried on page 2, where sports consultant Marc Ganis says that athletes have to come to terms with the ramifications of a bad economy:

“There’s a reasonable chance the NBA and NFL are going to have periods of time when their sports are not playing, unless their players associations get a serious dose of reality,” Ganis said. “Owners have decided that continual exponential growth in cheap and available credit are both history, and that they’re not going to accept a generally break-even proposition while paying players extraordinary amounts they’re paid.”

Ganis says that the auto industry pumps so much money into the sports economy that it will be difficult to find a suitable replacement for those dollars. NASCAR is one sport that will feel this, since the sport is, you know, about cars. But NASCAR is putting on a brave face, while also reminding everyone that GM is still on board with them:

“I’ve been told directly by each of the companies having challenging times that one of the things that works best for them is NASCAR,” chairman Brian France said earlier this month.

That said, France also is on record as saying NASCAR could survive without all the manufacturers.

GM still has deals with 12 of the 22 Sprint Cup tracks.

As for endorsements, one agent is saying that the whole up-and-down stock market thing is getting out of hand:

“You’ve just got to be much more creative,” said Evan Morgenstein, an agent for gymnast Nastia Liukin, swimmer Dara Torres and other Olympic athletes.

Morgenstein says sponsors have become so fidgety that his phone actually rings more on days the stock market is doing well, less when it’s not.

“I think for the first and second quarter of 2009, it’s going to be tenuous at best,” he said. “It’s more about cold calling, contacting people, pitching ideas. There’s some stuff that may not actually close, but we’ve got to look at this as building for the next four years.”

Cold calling? Pitching ideas? You mean, sports agents might actually have to do their job?

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