Spartan Race CEO, Joe Desena, speaks out on yesterday’s athlete kerfuffle over Spartan Pro Team contracts.
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Matt B. Davis
is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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Did Joe just basically say they’re not good people for complaining about the contract?
Does he work for free?
I know the elite athletes like Ryan Arkins,Lyndsay Webster, Amelia Boone, “The Bear” and Rose Wetzel didn’t make the sport ….. but they are the “Pillars” and there foundation of the sport much like Hobie Call and they are the ones who when I was asked to do my first Spartan Race , I watched on YouTube and were inspiring to watch such epic battles between each other and who, in Asheville, N.C. I was able to volunteer at the finish line and see all of these larger than life athletes in person ! Blew me away!!! What other sport can you be up close and personal with each and every one of the athletes you admire and look up to???? I was in awe….. To have followed so many elites and literary follow in their footsteps just minutes or hours after they ran the same course… No where else! Also, you know your not at that elite level but to have that mindset of being on the exact same course and that anything is attainable…. Again, no other sport, business or entertainment gives you that! Spartan is the conduit, the elites are the electricity in the conduit and we are the outlet. Conduit is useless unless there are wires conducting electricity through it. I am so unbelievably grateful for Joe Desena for “Ripping me off the couch”and changing my life forever in the most positive way possible and that debt of gratitude is just as deserving to all Spartan Elite Athletes who have and continue to be ambassadors and grow there sport!
Why does Joe think that having a different point of view than him is considered negative? He’s totally pushing being a “loyal Spartan” and towing the line and saying what they want them to say is good and if you disagree with anything they say or want is negative. You totally were right to call Joe out when he said that a loyal Spartan pro does all these wonderful things for para-athletes others, but made it look like the “B” team athletes would club baby seals. It’s a slippery slope on what he wants, but it looks to be like he wants unwavering support of his sponsored athletes without them speaking up on anything. Which is his right as the head guy. But to belittle or minimize the efforts or accomplishments of those not sponsored by Spartan if they win an event contradicts things he said on your interview. Like you said, both sides need to hash it out and then go from there. Everyone then aware of what is what.
This interview didn’t do Spartan any favors……. Ugh.
This is the only sport where the athlete is sponsored by the race they perform in. Patrick Mahomes is not sponsored by the NFL. Usain Bolt is not sponsored by the NY Marathon. These athletes have the ability to go get sponsorship from a million different companies that will cover their race entry fees and gear etc. Go look there. This sport and the business is built up by the Millions of people who pay for their race. It is built up by the volunteers working for free at the races. It is built up by the employees that work in every aspect from venue construction to accounting built up this sport.
Actually, if you’ve been paying close enough attention to this issue, you would’ve seen that in the contract the pros received in 2020, Spartan wants to be able to dictate who the athletes can be sponsored by. Limiting athletes to sponsors who are already sponsoring Spartan. Per the contract, Spartan can demand athletes attend certain events with no reimbursement for travel. If someone in demanding to be in a certain place, then they should have to pay for the travel.
I don’t see locking the athletes in to a specific set of sponsors as an issue. You wouldn’t get picked up by a professional cycling team and ride a different brand of bike. Here are the main issues I see:
1) No other viable options. Mudgear/Human Octane/VJShoes/Endureelite/whoever doesn’t have the resources to, or see the benefit of, fully supporting racers (nor does Spartan, apparently).
2) The reality of the economics. If an athlete’s racing and product endorsement was really bringing in the cash for the sponsors. the athlete would be better compensated. A few hundred extra pairs of X brand shoes because an OCR athlete post’s them on instagram vs. millions of Nike’s sold because whatever basketball player like them…
3) Spartan’s ridiculous rule about not wearing sponsor clothes on the podium. I would certainly like my athlete to be promoting my brand while standing on the podium.
So basically if you don’t agree with what Spartan wants & says you become a (B) athlete & they will purposely promote you less. Sounds like “strong arming” to me. This interview made Spartan look even worse than they already do. Smh
I’m surprised Joe made things personal…but, it sounds to me like he’s facing the economic structure of the industry. Two things kill business; over expansion and under capitalization. Sounds like he may have led Spartan into this position.
5 cents of every dollar is 5%profit, not 0.05%.
And his A vs B group’s is no solution. Either towcthe line in the A group and get most of the visibility or go to the less visible B group. Less visibility means less interest from other sponsors. The point of sponsoring is the visibility
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