Monday, June 28, 2010

Sponsorship

I am injured. My foot hurts and I want to run. Instead I will swim.

I do not have a sponsor and to be quite frank, I never will. I will outline the reasons as follows.

  • I am not fast enough: I do not deserve to have a sponsor or to get any free stuff. I believe that one should run at least sub 30 minutes to have a sponsor. I am not ranked nationally and I will never run international. I am a hack and thus do not deserve to have a sponsor.
  • I am gay and vocal: If I was a hack but a reserved gay then I would may be in the running for some shoes and a new outfit. I am gay and not afraid to show it so I will never be sponsored. If I was straight then I might have a chance.
  • I volunteer with the gays: A teammate was telling me one day that I needed to get 'involved in the community' if I wanted to get sponsored. Another of my mates responded with 'it depends what community?' People do not want to support someone with questionable morals or an alternative lifestyle.
  • I am not a suck up: I am the worst schmoozer on earth. It was ingrained in me as a child to not tell people how great you are. I find it difficult to say anything positive about myself without somehow adding a disparaging comment to deflect what one may perceive as arrogance.
The difficulty with sponsorship in running is that it is not necessarily based on performance or talent. It seems to be as much based on who you know or how much one bullshits as how fast you run. When I was just starting to get fast out here in BC I ran a race. At the end of the race the results were posted with the individual's sponsor on the result sheet. Of the top 15 runners in the race there were 2 individuals who were not sponsored. I was one of them. I did not expect to have any support for my running as I did not feel I was of the quality to garner support. What is difficult to accept is continuing to beat individuals who are supported and getting a box of free equipment every few months.

In situations of personal growth I look for ways to change my behaviour or strategies to improve outcomes. The question I grapple with is how to balance the need to conform with my desire to be who I am. I do not foresee myself ever walking up to a shoe rep and telling him how wonderful I am. I cannot show any community involvement without reporting I'm gay and any promotional engagements have all been gay oriented. Gosh, I have been on the second page of the Globe and Mail twice in the last 6 months and my image is currently touring North America after a stint at Pride House as part of the Olympics. If I was not a runner I would not have been represented.

Things do not come easy for me. I have been very fortunate in my life to have been given amazing opportunities. Upon realizing an opportunity I have worked hard to maximize the opportunity to reap all the rewards possible. I have worked incredibly hard for everything I have and I foresee continuing to work hard into the future. I do not foresee sponsorship, that would be much too easy.

Life is work, it is a grind. Right?

Happy Training!

6 comments:

  1. Wow Jay, got too totally disagree with your last post my friend. I pretty much disagree with everything you write, were you having a bad day?. Unfortuntaely, when you did start running faster, most athletics companys probably had their full quota of sponsored athletes, and they do not usually drop athletes from year to year. With the economic downturn there is less sponsorship available. The company we tried to get you help from would be horrified too think they would not help you because of your comments. If I even felt they discriminated against gay persons, I wouldnt run for them. Of course it does help if you know someone in the business, and as you know my rep is a personal friend, but I put in a lot of hard work, a, too get the sponsorship and b, too keep it. Hope tomorrow you have a better day, Cheers Gramps

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  2. Nobody deserves freebies - it's who they have to schmooze on their behalf that gets them results. That's why actors have stylists, so they can get someone else to beg for free clothing for them. Contact a gay organization with lots of dough. I think it would be awesome for you to run in a Steamworks sponsored outfit. :)

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  3. Kevin, with all due respect, you earned the support you have gotten. You were the top Canadian at Sunrun and continue to be an amazing ambassador for the sport. To reiterate, I do not deserve nor will ever have a sponsor. Unless I run a hell of a lot faster (as fast as you have run!) I should not get one.

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  4. Jay, I think your mistaken, your times may not be quick enough for a major sponsorship, but would certainly be good enough for a local sponsorship, out of a running store such as the one ive got. Now I cant speak for other companies but Asics have a wide range of ages and abilitys throughout the stores that represent them. Mayb Blair is right, try and get some sponsorship from a gay organisation, if its not a running organisation, then try and negotiate some cash so that you can buy kit and have it silkscreened with the sponsored companys logo on. There must be organisations or stores that you could approach? If you want a reference from myself you only have to ask. Cheers Gramps, hope the injury is healing.

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  5. numby nuts...

    gramps is correct.....

    I never had 'real' sponsorship til 2005. I had 'kicked a few tires', but never followed through. I don't think it wasn't that I didn't deserve it (a natioanl title, national medals/teams, etc...), but I never actively went out of my way to get sponsrship. In some respects I didn't care as i was more interested in simply running and not worrying about expenses. I honestly made the goal of getting sponsrship when I felt I had moved from simply running to running and being able to impact others....that was when i thought that I had something to offer a company besides simply running.

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  6. Hey Jay,
    Numby nuts makes a good point about it not always having to do with speed. As usual, Gramps I have to agree with. Jay you are one of my idols and I'm sure there are so many other runners(gay or straight) that are inspired by your passion and dedication to the sport. Regardless of how gay or "Not fast enough" you are, you are a perfect role model for the running community. No offense Jay, but I truly believe that the fact you are gay means absolutely nothing when applying for this type of position, as a matter of fact, we live in a pro minority society now where your sexual preference would certainly add a positive charm to your character. I hope you are back out with us soon. I truly love your blog but was absolutely shocked by this one! Stay speedy and believe in yourself.
    David
    PS. I truly want a sponsorship for the financial aid, but I would give mine to you if I had the chance as you've definitely earned it. You will get sponsored if you find a store which hosts your brand of choice and present the rep with your two past seasons worth of results. If you ask, you will recieve.

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