Why You’re Not A Sponsored Athlete

Cavino Johnson May 1, 2014 Training Articles

I remember when I first started to compete in bodybuilding.  I had a subscription to every fitness magazine out there and what I realized is that 75% of those magazines were advertisements.  On each page, there was some mass monster or some shredded athlete, and they’re holding the advertised product or flexing next to a quote like, “Ever since I started using [X-product insert here], my muscle gains went through the roof…”, or something to that effect.  I was convinced they used that product and it worked… because the 300 pound dude with muscles even in his eyelids said so.

How it all started

I knew back then that I had to have a sponsor and that I wanted to be that guy that promoted a supplement product or gym apparel and be known world wide… but, damn… I’m from a small town in Georgia and had nothing really big going on.  So, I just associated the products I used with the faces (and physiques) that came with them and competed and started winning.  Still, no sponsors were blowing up my phone and none were emailing me back.

Why not me?

Did I not have enough credentials?  Not enough trophies?  Was I not competing in the right organizations?  Maybe it was because I have a slightly large nose and an even bigger head?  So, as social media grew, so did advertising and marketing through those venues.  I was able to keep up with the new products and new faces (and physiques), but I had learned that, in most cases, these guys weren’t JUST using the products they endorsed.  I won’t get in too deep on that but that’s a completely different article for later.  But, even with a little more exposure thanks to social media, I still got no correspondence from any of the supplement companies.  I forgot about it and kept training and competing.

Stepping back, then stepping up

Fast forward a few years.  I came off a 3-year hiatus of no competing, just training.  I decided to do a bodybuilding competition that was “come as you are”, natural competitors or gear users.  It didn’t matter.  I placed 3rd.  But, as I prepped for this show, I shared my transformation on Facebook.  My “friends list” doubled, as I began receiving friend request after friend request, almost more than I was receiving game request (which I hate).  With the new, yet very small, social popularity, I noticed a trend of smaller companies breaking out and looking for representatives.  Only problem with that, for me, was that I didn’t like the product.  I couldn’t stand behind it.  I did manage to land a gym apparel rep gig for a small company, but it was short lived, for the simple fact that the product was scarce and I ended up liking a completely different brand name.  After a few months, I came across a calling for all interested in being rep for a supplement company.  I applied, already at the conclusion that it’d go nowhere.  That same day, I got the nod and filled out the agreement of the stipulations and expectations and a Sponsored Athlete was born!!

Why me?

But, what was it that convinced them to choose me amongst the other thousands of applications?  Maybe they were looking for a big headed, big nosed person?  I, later, asked why I was chosen, because I was curious as to what was diffeent now versus back all those years that I had been trying before.  I was told that I have an undeniable passion for what I do, that I have a great influence on people, I kept it real and right, I had a high social media interaction and a high number of “friends” and “followers”, and I “fit” the direction the company was headed in.  Now, that’s enough to build a pretty ugly ego on, right? Wrong.

How I would handle things now

I get a lot of emails asking me how does one go about obtaining sponsorship.  They ask, “What can the company do for me?”.  I’m sorry.  It doesn’t work that way.  If this is your intention, this may be why you don’t have a sponsor.

Step one

First thing you need to remember is that most companies would rather do without the pre-madonnas, the egotistical jerks or the holier than though people representing their company.  As a REPRESENTATIVE, you represent that company.  You represent that company on every level.  Productivity, marketing, advertising, product integrity- everything.  So why would they give you any sponsorship?

Step Two

Be and stay clean.  If every other one of your Instagram and Facebook and Twitter posts and pictures are of you getting wasted on the regular, how exactly are you a good candidate for a sponsorship with a health and fitness oriented company?  Not just party pics but some of your personal life, especially the darker parts, should stay in the dark and not on social media.  ”Oh, I love this new pre-workout formula.  It’s the bees knees!” to “Oh, I hate my girlfriend, I just got out of jail for domestic abuse…”, just won’t cut it.  Again, no company wants to attach itself to the drama.  It leaves an ugly stain.

Step Three

A lot of people assume a person has to be a competitor of some sort.  This is not true.  It DOES help, but not always a necessity.  A majority of the target audiences supplement companies want to reach DO NOT compete.  They simply want to perform better.  So, the answer is no, you do not have to be a competitor. Yet, at the same time, you can’t be a couch jockey looking for the hook up, either.  It does, in fact, help, if you are a competitor, as I said. The level of your exposure to the general population is greater, hence you being a better brand ambassador.  For instance, if you compete in a fitness competition or a powerlifting competition, and you do really well, chances are people will want to speak to you, ask you what supplements you might be using.  BAM!!  Rep your sponsor!!

Step Four-ish

Back to social media… It’s growing.  Companies are probably saving thousands of dollars (and trees) by resorting to online ads versus the inked pages of magazines.  They are able to flood newsfeeds and side panels of just about any and every website.  I looked up a random search for pepper sauce and saw an ad banner for The Muscle Book. (The Muscle Book is one of 4 FREE Training Programs offered by Athletic Xtreme, by the way.  Check them out. *shameless plug*) The traffic that these sites get is in the thousands per day.  Long live the Pop Up!!  If you have a shallow stable of “Followers”, then your representation of a company is very limited.  I’m sure Uncle Rhubarb, Aunt Judy, mom and dad, are super proud of you for being sponsored, but they will probably have no interest in trying anything your sponsoring company has to offer.  It’s the age of the social media.  The age where every one is internet buddies with people they have never met before, may never meet, yet, find genuine interest in what you are doing.  If you aren’t internet popular, you probably won’t pick up a sponsor.

One Final Step

If you are fortunate to land a sponsorship, how far you go with that sponsorship is up to YOU, not them.  Sure, you can do one of three things: 1) Find a sponsorship, but never meet the requirements to maintain the sponsorship, 2) become a sponsored athlete but only do the minimal requirements necessary to maintain it, or 3) Take that sponsorship and celebrate it daily as though you are Golom and the sponsorship is your “Precious”!! Yes, I made a Lord of the Rings reference.  Don’t hate on my nerd.  Obvioulsy, the first one will be cause for a very brief sponsorship.  One thing to remember is that, by contract, they can and will dismiss you for any reason that company chooses to.  There is no fine print.  You represent them.  They don’t represent you.  The second option, will, well, get you only so far.  You may just be around to reap the benefits of the freebies.  If that’s the case, you may last a little while.  But, you have to ask yourself, what more could I do?  Remember- whatever company sponsors you is a part of a multi-billion dollar industry that is on a global scale.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Still don’t get it, huh? Let me be blunt- If your aim is to become more noticed in the fitness industry or any industry that you hold some sponsorship deal, the more you do, the more the company will recognize you.  The more they recognize, the further forward up and out they will put you, eventually becoming an asset instead of just a sponsored athlete.  They have the “power” and venues to propel your career into the spotlight.  All that you have to do is rep the company well, believe in what you represent and be about it.  Plain and simple, but you still gotta put in the work, if not for the company, then for yourself.

How I lay it out

Hi. My name is Cavino Johnson.  I am The Muscle Book Professor.  I began with Athletic Xtreme back in 2012 as a sponsored athlete and now have been the resident trainer for the Muscle Book, the AX News correspondent and one can see my big head and big nose on the website talking about our product and our training, as well as read the many article and content and training videos I have submitted to our site and to our YouTube channel for the past year and a half.  When I first started with AX, I advertised our company in every forum, several social media posts daily, filmed training videos weekly, participated in nearly every forum I could find, signed up for every social media source I could and went above and beyond.

If you can’t do any of these things, this is why you’re not a sponsored athlete!!


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About The Author

A decade into the sport of natural bodybuilding, Cavino has won many competitions and currently holds a pro card. He also has personal training, group fitness and sports nutrition certifications that allows him to own his own private training service.

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