Helping brands to partner with athletes in their influencer marketing and sponsorship marketing campaigns

The Power of Female Athletes on Social Media

Jul 8, 2021 3:21:54 PM / by Tracey Wilson posted in Influencer, influencer marketing, instagram, marketing ideas, Marketing Recommendations, open sponsorship, Social Insights, social media, sports, sports marketing, twitter, athlete, athlete endorsement, athlete influencer, athlete marketing, athletes, endorsements, fan engagement, trends, Tik Tok, youtube, TikTok, soccer, fitness influencers, Social Media Marketing

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Social media has become an integral part of a professional athlete's career and female athletes seem to possess some of the larger followings, giving them strong influence. Not only can this help the individual athlete but it can be a powerful tool in highlighting women's sport, bringing more interest and additional coverage.  Female athletes can also evoke change in other ways by being an influencer, such as by using their own personal stories to inspire others. “The stakeholders on the commercial side of sports are constantly searching for the next frontier, the next growth play,” Dan Cohen, who leads sports marketing company Octagon’s media rights consulting division, said in an email. “It is clearly women’s sports.”

It has been reported that women's sport does not receive as much coverage and investment even though it has more room for growth than men's sport. In 2018 studies showed that only 0.4% of the total commercial investment (in sport) goes into women’s sport, despite a Nielsen report revealing that 84% of general sports fans have an interest in women’s sports. 51% of those surveyed were male, which means utilizing female athletes as a way to reach fans can be greatly beneficial. Deloitte projected that the rise of women’s sports in 2020 would dominate the sports industry and that “sponsors should consider getting involved now to capitalize on the new opportunities and avenues for engagement that this growth area may create.” The influence of social media has also grown since the Nielsen survey was taken, especially since digital activity has been vital to the survival of many industries and how many athletes and leagues interacted with their fans throughout the pandemic. Deloitte's survey found that millennials are 40 percent more likely than baby boomers to use social media to obtain information about their favorite teams and players. This behavioral trend emphasizes the importance of the digital connection athletes have with their fans and the power it wields. 

The pandemic was hard on the sport industry but women's sport continues to have strong growth and investment potential. NWGL's Packer said, "the amount of money that it takes for a company to meaningfully support a women’s league is so vastly different than what it takes to have the smallest piece of attachment for a men’s league.” A good example of this potential for growth is women's soccer in the U.S., which has seen an increase in interest that has translated into an increase in stadium attendance. In 2020 the NWSL was poised to have a record-breaking year after signing new broadcast deals, which resulted in a 22% increase in game attendance, according to Soccer Stadium Digest. In addition to this the women's NCAA tournament continues to prove that it can bring in viewers as it could fetch as much as $20 million a year as a stand-alone event on the open market. Now that things are getting back to normal women's sport will need to keep up the momentum.

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Top Vegan Athletes on OpenSponsorship

Jun 28, 2021 11:51:05 AM / by Tracey Wilson posted in Influencer, influencers, NFL Athletes, open sponsorship, OpenSponsorship, sports, sports marketing, sports sponsorships, athlete, athlete influencer, athlete marketing, athletes, Fitness, fitness influencers, Social Media Marketing, sustainability, vegan, healthy lifestyle

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Every athlete has a diet that works for them, but being healthy and fueling their body is key to their success. There has been a growing number of athletes who have moved to a more vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Many of the athletes who have made the diet and lifestyle change now swear by it. This is not an easy change as professional athletes need to work with nutritionists to ensure they have the proper balance in their diet that would enable them to maintain their physique and to maintain a high level of performance for their sport. In fact a study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that a plant-based diet can boost physical health and emotional well-being. As the lifestyle change has brought positives to many of the athlete's lives they often share recipes etc. with their fans and teammates.

“My clients see so many benefits to eating a plant-based diet that postseason, they don’t go back to eating as an omnivore or a carnivore,” Barbara Lewin, RDN, CSSD, LDN, a sports nutritionist who works with professional athletes noted.

Here are some of the top vegan athletes on OpenSponsorship.

Julia Hubbard

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Julia Hubbard has had a varied but successful athletic career, having competed as a Great Britain Bobsleigh athlete and Sprinter, bodybuilder, and Natural Pro with several federations. Hubbard has won three Natural World titles, three Natural universe titles, three Natural Olympia titles, and multiple British and Regional titles. Hubbard was a vegetarian for much of her life but went full vegan after a sever back injury from a bobsleigh crash, after which she has been quoted as saying,  “I had thought about going vegan many times but always thought it would be too difficult as an athlete and with traveling a lot. The turning point was my health. Now I wish I’d made the switch sooner!” In addition to her athletic achievements she has qualified as a Vegan Nutritionist, having a Degree in Physiology and Sports Science, Nutrition diploma and Personal Training qualifications.

Hunter Reese

Hunter Reese is an American tennis player and current ATP tour competitor who won the NCAA doubles championship and was ranked #1 in the NCAA doubles. He also competed in the 2014 US Open alongside partner Peter Kobelt after receiving a wildcard into the men's doubles draw. Reese has had some hurdles in his college career so it was not until 2019 that Reese became vegan, but has already begun to see some benefits, "I noticed a difference in my energy level and am more conscious of things I am putting into my body since becoming vegan. I was never a morning person and now I can wake up much easier. So I would say there has been an indirect benefit to my performance."

TJ Barnes

TJ Barnes has been a successful defensive tackle who has played in the NFL for the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and the XFL New York Guardians. In 2018 he missed an opportunity to join the WWE because of his weight and poor eating habits, which is why he decided to go vegan saying, "I told myself I needed to change the way I eat because at the route I was going it was going to put me in an early grave. So I went Vegan!" He has since been able to loose weight, getting healthy, and he continues to look to the future.

Agnes Muljadi

Agnes Muljadi is a ballerina, actress, filmmaker and vegan influencer. Muljadi classically trained at Julia Bourlina Classical Ballet in Studio City, California, and has co-produced two independent films. She first began the vegan lifestyle in 2014 for health reasons, and has found that it has had additional benefits, "I tell everyone that the vegan life-style has greatly benefited me as an athlete. I’ve always said that I felt like I was given a new body after I became vegan. My stamina, endurance and energy levels have really improved. I also happily lost some weight after I transitioned to veganism." Her social influencer status has been bolstered by her dance photos and sustainable/vegan lifestyle content, which continue to bring in new and exciting dance opportunities.

Leger Douzable

Leger Douzable has had the opportunity to play for several teams within the NFL, including the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and San Francisco 49ers. Douzable is such a fan of the plant based diet that he shares his favorite recipes with his fans, such as his Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast.

Martina Leal

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Martina Leal, originally from Brazil, is a martial artist and fitness coach, who has also been a positive promoter of the vegan lifestyle through her social media accounts. In addition to working with her clients she enjoys training in Jiu Jitsu and running. She loves to cook her vegan recipes and understands the importance of keeping the body moving. Martina has bachelors of physical education with specialization in ginastica natural.

Josh Powell

Josh Powell is now part of the Big3, but he has a had a long and successful career within the NBA, having played for the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and LA Lakers. Powell is also a two time NBA Champion, FIBA Intercontinental Cup Champion, EuroLeague Champion, and WBA Champion. Powell has gained a real appreciation for healthy living, which is why he has been following a plant based vegan diet for about three years now.

Evan Engram

Evan Engram played for Ole Miss through college, and drafted into the NFL in 2017 where he has played for the New York Giants. Engram has also been been part of the PFWA All-Rookie Team and participated in the 2020 Pro Bowl. Since shifting to a plant based diet Engram has been able to continue to eat the large portions needed to fuel his body and continues to perform at a top level, which is why he sees it as, “a little investment but I think it’s pretty worth it."

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Celebrate Pride Month with these OpenSponsorship Athletes

Jun 9, 2021 12:46:42 PM / by Tracey Wilson posted in OpenSponsorship, sponsoring athletes, sponsors, sports, Sports Sponsor, sports sponsorships, women in sports, athletes, LGBTQ, Pride Month, Pride

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Let's celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in sport by highlighting OpenSponsorship's star athletes!

Representation and awareness in the sports industry has been on the rise, and athletes in every sport imaginable have proven that they have the passion, skill, and strength to be stars in their designated sport. Partnering with LGBTQ+ athletes will not only enable you to directly connect with the community but can also bring positive sentiment to your brand. 37% of consumers feel positive about companies and brands that promote diversity and actively support LGBT communities in their advertising and marketing, according to professional LGBT network OUTstanding. These athletes have not only stepped up to be role models but they have also proven to be trendsetters as well. So, there are many positives to consider when thinking about working with one of our LGBTQ+ inclusive athletes.Here are just a few of the 90 athletes who mention LGBTQ+ on their social media feeds, and could be great partners for your brand.

Gus Kenworthy

Gus Kenworthy is a British-American freestyle skier, actor, and influencer. Representing Great Britain in the 2014 Sochi Olympics he won the silver medal in men's Slopestyle, and a gold for halfpipe in the Calgary World Cup. He has also won a bronze medal in the X games Slopestyle event in France, and has a long track record of strong performances in various competitions. Kenworthy has also spoken about being an openly gay professional athlete where he has been quoted saying, "I want to be the guy who comes out, wins s--- and is like, I'm taking names."

Abby Dunkin

Abby (Abigail) Dunkin is a 3.5 wheelchair basketball player who has won the gold for Team USA in the 2015 Parapan American Games, the 2016 Paralympics, and the 2019 Women's U25 Wheelchair World Championship. Dunkin is another athlete who has spoken about how sport helped her to find her identity where sh said, "Being in that atmosphere with coaches who were so supportive and teammates who were so supportive made me feel like I could do it. So wheelchair basketball, for me at least, helped me to come out publicly and be okay with myself. And I was lucky to have loving family and friends who supported me."

Jorden Hall

Jorden Hall

Jorden Hall is a nationally ranked track and field Canadian athlete who competes regularly and has won the gold in the BCSS Women's Heptathalon. Hall is still an young athlete but has proven to have a lot of potential, including a possible future with Team Canada for an Olympics. She has been open about her relationship with an American hair stylist, and is very active on social media, highlighting her training and showing her playful side on TikTok.

Josh Dixon

Josh Dixon

Josh Dixon has had the opportunity to be involved in sport as both an athlete and an owner. As an athlete Dixon has trained at the Olympic Training Center, having won multiple medals at the Winter Cup for his floor exercise and vault. He is now a minority owner of a women's professional soccer team where he works to promote female athletes and sports. In addition to all this he has voiced his strong feelings about his role in the community and sport by saying, “I realized I have an obligation, a responsibility to say, “It’s okay to be gay in our sport.” Ultimately, it’s about your gymnastics, whether you’re worthy to be on the team or in the sport.”

Janelly Farias

Janelly Farias is an openly gay American-born Mexican soccer player, who has played for the Mexican National Team, LA Galaxy OC, and Guadalajara.  Additionally, Farias was a Commentator/Analyst for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup for Telemundo and has plans to be a part of the next World Cup as well. In addition to her career on the pitch Farias has been outspoken about the state of women's sport in Mexico and has become more involved behind the scenes as well. “Megan Rapinoe is an idol. I really admire her, I admire what she’s doing,” said Farias. “I think the whole world can learn from the social activism that the US women’s national team is doing, and in an ideal world, we would do the same here in Mexico.”

Sue Bird

Sue Bird is a Three-Time WNBA Champion who currently plays for the Seattle Storm, has won four Olympic gold medals, participated in four FIBA World Cups, has been selected to eleven WNBA All-Star teams and eight All-WNBA teams. Bird has also been voted the WNBA's top 15 Players of All Time and into the WNBA Top 20@20. In 2017 Bird publicly came out and announced her relationship with Megan Rapinoe from the USWNT. Since going public Bird has become more vocal and a former teammate, Swin Cash, says, "Sue and 'controversy' never mixed. She wasn't going to say certain things in the media. ... Now, when you talk about diversity or inclusion or racial inequality or sexism or other hot-button topics, she's going to give it to you how she sees it. I love and respect that about her."

Tasha Curro

Tasha Curro

Tasha Curro is an obstacle racer who has ranked 59th at the World Championship Spartan race. She not only competes regularly, winning a variety of medals, but she now also cheers on her stepson who has recently joined her by competing in a Spartan Kids race.

Liam Broady

Liam Broady is the No. 5 ranked tennis player in Britain, who has won the Boy's Doubles at Wimbledon and Australian Open and currently plays in the ATP Tour (professional circuit). Broady continues to improve and has recently made lifestyle changes that seem to be expediting his rise in the rankings. In addition to this he stands up in defense of the LGBTQ+ athlete's

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Influencer Marketing in Sport

Jun 3, 2021 10:19:46 AM / by Tracey Wilson posted in Influencer, influencer marketing, influencers, marketing, marketing strategy, open sponsorship, Russel Westbrook, social media, sports, sports marketing, athlete, athlete influencer, athletes, athletes on social media, Fashion, Fitness, Social Media Marketing

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The sports industry and its athletes have expanded their reach to the point of becoming influencers of fashion, lifestyle, fitness, and much more. Athletes can be a great resource to a brand and campaign in their ability to reach and connect with their fans and followers in a way that is hard to rival. In fact, the sports industry and market has been continuously growing, especially in this past decade, and is expected to grow by an additional 6%, reaching nearly $1,809.8 billion by 2022. The industry has grown in a way that has highlighted specific athletes and even enabled them to become household names as fashion and lifestyle icons. Much of this has been achieved through social media where athletes showcase more aspects of their lives and directly connect with their fans. Instagram drove more than $430M in Maximum Ad Value (MAV) during the first 9 months of 2019 with a 68% total value driven by sport properties and influencers.  Sports fans are a passionate consumer group who follow their favorite teams and athletes on various platforms where they see all the brands their favorite athletes associate with on and off the field. This is particularly true for youth because 32% of 13-36-year-olds, and 39% of 13-36-year-old males, follow athletes on social networks.

Athletes as Lifestyle Influencers

The health and wellness lifestyle movement has been on an upward trajectory for the past few years and athletes are in an ideal position to be influencers of this trend. This is because athletes are natural inspirations for exercise and fitness through their sport and daily lifestyles, which can be showcased through their personal social media accounts. This is why many look to their favorite athletes for inspiration and guidance towards a fit and healthy lifestyle.

The pandemic has contributed to this through the exponential growth of the at-home fitness industry. Through all the new developments and expansions brands and fitness influencers have done through the pandemic and quarantine has widened the scope of how the general public can get fit. A big part of this has come from fitness influencers and professional athletes who have shared their at-home workout routines and nutrition plans with their followers. Various sports teams and athletes have even participated or invited fans to join zoom workout sessions with them or to join them in a fitness challenge. This has enabled fans to become connected to their favorite athletes and sports in new ways.

This example of  Ashlyn Harris and Ali Kreiger doing a Zoom workout makes them more relatable and further connects them with their fans. This is because fans now have even more easy access to their favorite athletes, coupled with the boom in the use of digital communications, they actually have additional opportunities to interact with these athletes as well. So not only are professional athletes able to inspire aspirational athletes but to connect and inspire the average person as well.

Athletes as Fashion Icons

Athletes have a long history of collaborating with clothing brands, but they have gone beyond sportswear to become true fashion icons, even using their walk down stadium tunnels as their own personal runways. The rise of street style and athleisure has also been a contributing factor to the success of fashion influencers like that seen in the NBA. This influence is especially noticeable with younger audiences who are heavier social media users. These consumers develop deeper emotional and personal connections with athletes due to their affinity for the sport which also amplifies the connection they have with the style and brands the athletes promote.

Russel Westbrook is a great example of an active athlete who has become a fashion icon. He not only showcases his style en route to games and on social media, but he has also become a regular of fashion week and collaborator with apparel brands. He has become an influencer in more than one area, making him a more well-known name with a wider audience.

Since 2009 menswear has outpaced women's in sales growth and a recent report from Rakuten found that men are also engaging with fashion influencers at an increasing rate. Of the 3,500 surveyed consumers, most of whom were American, 65% of men said they interact with a style influencer every day.“ Men do not follow ‘style influencers’ in the traditional way women do, which is precisely why the NBA has been so successful,” Krista Corrigan, retail analyst at Edited, said. “The players have alternative mediums for reaching male consumers, and exposure is not always intentional. In particular, players entering the arena has become a regular aspect of game coverage. It’s one that is broadcasted across sports networks, news articles and team Instagram accounts. The player persona has evolved, and athletes are looked up to for more than just their abilities on the court.”

 

 

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Why Female Soccer and USWNT Players Are Great Athletes to Sponsor

May 28, 2020 2:25:23 PM / by Rachel Beran posted in influencer marketing, sports, women in sports, athlete marketing, soccer

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A combined 1.12 billion people around the world watched the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament. In addition, more than 260 million viewers watched as the USWNT team played with confidence, strength and unity in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands to seal their fate as 2019 World Cup winners. The team and players have garnered respect and admiration from fans across the world and continue to prove why they deserve it: One of the many reasons why these athletes make great sponsorship partners.

Authenticity Drives Engagement

The players’ success on the field, alongside their willingness to take a stand for what they believe in, has made them prominent and popular figures. Their large and loyal fan bases admire their authenticity and have an appreciation and trust in the honest content and messages they put out. While these athletes may not have the same social media following as players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, engagement amongst their own followers is very high. A sponsored post like this (shown below) from OpenSponsorship and USWNT athlete Julie Ertz is highly authentic to who she is and what she values (there are shirts on the quilt highlighting her career and her husband Zack Ertz’s and even a shirt that promotes gender equality). Posts like this one from Ertz are much more likely to drive engagement and higher brand recognition and sales. 

Julie Ertz holding a quilt of her different soccer jerseys and shirts.

Matching Athletes to Brands Through Shared Values

Additionally, these athletes are amazing role models for women of all ages, especially young women like myself and members of the LGBTQ community. They consistently break down gender stereotypes by being the confident, skilled players that they are and refusing to accept the status quo when it is unjust. These athletes’ success on the field is undeniably incredible. Combined with their willingness to stand up for what they believe in and be their true authentic selves, they are the perfect candidates for sponsorships: Especially as more and more brands are looking to make statements about their values and are using athletes to help share this message. Due to their willingness to speak up for what they believe in, even if that means being controversial at times, USWNT players and female soccer players are the perfect athletes to partner with to accomplish this.

The Ability to Genuinely Connect with Brands and Consumers Both Through Sports and on a Personal Level

As brands are increasingly trying to reach consumers through social media channels, they sometimes struggle to make the connections between the influencer and the brand feel authentic in the eyes of the consumer. Athletes such as female soccer and USWNT players who attracted their followers based on their success as athletes and who they are on a personal level, are able to make connections with brands and their followers based on the fact that they are athletes and also who they are and what they stand for on a personal level. For example, Rose Lavelle can connect with Nike as a brand and its customers based on the fact that she is a soccer player and their clothes improve her performance. However, she can also connect to Nike and its customers in an even more meaningful way through shared values of female empowerment. This makes partnerships with brands feel more genuine coming from a USWNT player or female soccer player and is likely to drive higher engagement. 

If you would like to find out how your brand can partner with these amazing OpenSponsorship athletes, you can email us at info@opensponsorship.com or check out our website OpenSponsorship.com

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Instagram Influencers Who Are Mothers

Apr 22, 2020 4:59:41 PM / by Zack Smith posted in influencer marketing, influencers, instagram, sports, sports marketing, sports marketing campaigns, women in sports, affiliate marketing, mother's day

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In a few weeks, families around the United States will be celebrating Mother's Day and thanking their mothers for all of the sacrifices they make every day. In the sports world, female athletes juggle their athletic careers with their duties as mothers, often even having to take time off from their sport during and after pregnancy to care for their children and get their bodies ready to go back to competing.

For this reason, athletes who are mothers can be the perfect influencers to include in your brand's influencer marketing campaign around Mother's Day. Read below for OpenSponsorship's Top 10 Instagram influencers who are athletes and mothers and about the sacrifices they have made for their families. They deserve all the love coming their way this Mother's Day!

10. Glory Johnson

Glory is an 8-year WNBA veteran currently playing for the Atlanta Dream. In 2015, coming off of her second straight All-Star appearance, she announced that she was pregnant and would be sitting out the entire 2015 season. In October 2015, 4 months before her due date, Glory gave birth to her twin girls Ava and Solei.

It is common for WNBA players to play internationally to make extra money during the WNBA offseason, and things were no different for Glory. When she was playing overseas in countries like Russia and China, her mother and sisters cared for her children. This was becoming increasingly difficult for Glory and, after two seasons of playing overseas after her daughters were born, she decided to return home.

Glory Johnson and her daughters Solei and Ava.
Glory and her children Solei, left, and Ava, right, in their bedroom (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News) (Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer)

In May 2018, Glory purchased her first house for her and her two two-year old daughters. In an interview with the Dallas News, Glory said, "Having to do it all by yourself is really, really tough. Pulling all-nighters trying to get everything done before the babies come was tough, especially through training camp, but it was all worth it." Glory set up bedrooms and a jungle-themed playroom for the girls, equipped with a projector on the wall, jungle green chairs, a grassy floor and a tree on the wall made of pool noodles, and, of course, a giant pink dollhouse. 

9. Montana De La Rosa

Montana De La Rosa and her husband Mark, both UFC fighters, are also parents to their 9-year-old daughter Zaylyn. Montana and Mark are the only married couple to be signed to UFC contracts at the same time, but that has taken anything away from their jobs as parents. Zaylyn is following in her parents' footsteps in the family business, too- she is currently the Texas state champion wrestler in the open division, which is nearly all boys.

Montana De La Rosa and her daughter Zaylyn.
Montana and her daughter Zaylyn preparing a snack. (Cooper Neill, ESPN)

Montana got pregnant with Zaylyn in high school and had to give up an opportunity to wrestle at Oklahoma City University, the 4-time consecutive national champions. She met Mark in 2014 when Zaylyn was 3 and got married two years ago. Their schedules are now mapped out entirely, full of responsibilities as both fighters and parents. In an interview with ESPN, Mark said, "She's a supermom. When I'm 100% into training, I come home and do house stuff here and there. She'll go into the gym and be a professional athlete. As soon as she's done at the gym, she puts her mom hat on. She's a good fighter, good wife, good mom." Montana made the decision to put her career on pause as only a teenager, which is tough to swallow for most that age. However, now, she couldn't be happier. Her career is on the rise, she has an incredible husband, and her daughter is poised to follow in her footsteps and have a career in the UFC as well.

8. Bec Rawlings

Bec Rawlings is an Australian MMA fighter and mother of two young boys. Her second was born just months before her first MMA fight in October 2011, leaving her balancing caring for her two young boys and training to begin her MMA career. On top of all this, Rawlings was also stuck in a physically abusive relationship with her now ex-husband.

Rawlings lost her first fight, but bounced back after that with five straight victories. After two years of hiding her abuse, Rawlings finally filed a police report in 2012 and made the decision to leave the relationship on Mother's Day of 2013. Her past only fueled the fire for her career, and she now lives safely and happily with her two boys.

7. Lauren Holiday

Lauren Holiday is a retired soccer player who played in the NWSL and represented the United States in the World Cup and the Olympics. She was a part of the World Cup-winning US team in 2015 and also won two gold medals with the Olympic team. In 2013, she married NBA star Jrue Holiday after the two met and started dating as students at UCLA.

Lauren and Jrue Holiday and their daughter Jrue.Lauren and Jrue showing love to their daughter. (Lauren Holiday/Instagram)

In 2016, shortly after Lauren's retirement from soccer and six months into her pregnancy, it was discovered that she had a benign brain tumor. She gave birth to her daughter, Jrue Tyler Holiday, in September and had the brain tumor removed one month later. After the tumor was discovered, her husband Jrue announced he would be taking a leave of absence to focus on the health of his family. In February, three months after her daughter was born and her surgery was complete, she posted a photo of her daughter on Instagram and said she "had never known suffering like (she) experienced the last six months." Three years later, the family is happy and healthy with their beautiful daughter.

6. Sanya Richards-Ross

Sanya Richards-Ross is a former Olympic track and field athlete who won four gold medals during her Olympic career. While training for the 2016 Olympics, she suffered a hamstring injury and announced her retirement shortly after.

Sanya Richards-Ross, her husband Aaron Ross, and their son Aaron II.
Sanya and her husband, Aaron, and son, Aaron II. (Sanya Richards-Ross/Instagram)

In college at the University of Texas, she began dating former NFL cornerback and 2-time Super Bowl champion Aaron Ross and the two eventually got married in 2010. Shortly after her retirement, Sanya and Aaron announced the birth of their son Aaron Jermaine Ross II and has spoken extensively about the incredible positive impact that having a son has had on their lives.

5. Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch is a retired softball star who was a three-time All American in college at Arizona and a two-time medalist in the Olympics with the US National Team. Her husband Casey is also a former MLB pitcher. The two are parents to three children, sons Ace and Diesel and daughter Paisley.

Jennie's first son, Ace, was born in 2007. One year later, Finch competed in the Olympics with the US National Team and posted a 2-0 record during the competition where the US won a silver medal. This would be her last Olympic appearance, but Finch's career continued on in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league until 2010. Finch absolutely dominated in his career here, posting a 35-8 record and a 1.08 ERA.

4. Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano is a UFC fighter and the mother of one son, Brayden. In 2013, the undefeated Zingano was set to fight champion Ronda Rousey for a chance at the bantamweight title. However, a torn ACL suffered during a workout stripped this opportunity away from her and left her with a long road to recovery ahead.

Months later, in January 2014, her husband Mauricio was found dead near their home. Tragedy seemed to keep following Zingano, and eventually she decided to spend time in Thailand to recover both mentally and physically. Away from the bright lights and constant media attention, she was able to get back into shape and recover from past tragedy.

She was surprisingly released from the UFC, but signed a deal with Bellator in August 2019 to begin fighting there. Even when things seemed like they couldn't possibly be worse, Zingano stayed motivated and has a fresh start ahead of her.

3. Candace Parker

Candace Parker's name has been in the spotlight since her college days, being dubbed the player that could transcend women's basketball and become the face of the WNBA. She did not disappoint in her rookie year, taking home the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same season. Then, 6 months later, Parker made the announcement that she was pregnant.

This, of course, meant that her career would be on pause. After giving birth to her daughter Lailaa, Parker returned to the court just 53 days later and didn't miss a beat. Nearly 11 years later, she doesn't regret a single second of it.

Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa Parker.
Candace and her daughter Lailaa. (Willy Sanjuan/Associated Press)

In 2016, Parker was surprisingly left off the Olympic basketball roster. When coach Dawn Staley took over the program, she talked to Parker and tried to lure her back to be on the 2020 roster, but Parker refused. She told the Daily News, “I understand the responsibility of it now, later in life when somebody does my daughter wrong, or she doesn’t feel that she was respected, I want her to have the ability and the amount of respect for herself to understand when it’s time to move on."

2. Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux is a star soccer player for the US Women's National Team and the Orlando Pride of the NWSL. Her and her husband Dom Dwyer, another professional soccer player, welcomed their second child Roux in June of 2019. Less than one month later, Leroux was back on the field practicing with the Pride and in September, she appeared in her first match since giving birth.

She was visibly emotional on the field after the match as she was joined by her 3-month-old daughter and later described the moment in a heartfelt post on Instagram. The caption read, "I love this game. This past year was filled with so many ups and downs but I made a promise to myself that I would come back. No matter how hard that would be. It’s been a long road but I did it. 3 months and one day after I gave birth to my baby girl.‬"

1. Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. She has been in the spotlight since 2003 when, as a 13-year-old, she was the victim of a shark attack while surfing that nearly took her life. She survived, but lost her left arm as a result.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton and her family.

She was committed to continuing to surf and returned to competition in 2004, where she placed 5th in the NSSA National Competition in Australia. Her career continued into 2016 and she competed in, and won, several more events. In 2015, she and her husband Adam gave birth to her first son, Tobias, and later in 2018 they welcomed their second son Wesley to the world.

 

To learn more about these incredible athletes and many more and how you can sponsor them, contact an OpenSponsorship rep or send us an email at info@opensponsorship.com.

 

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Athletes in Affiliate Marketing

Apr 10, 2020 4:44:48 PM / by Joel Dehls posted in increase sales, influencer marketing, instagram, marketing, marketing ideas, marketing opportunities, sports, sports brands, deals, Parterships, Tik Tok, affiliate marketing

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While scrolling through Instagram stories, chances are you’ll find at least one person asking you to swipe up or use their discount code. It’s easy, nonchalant, and we don’t think twice about it. Advertisers are using this type of marketing, coined affiliate marketing, as another way to promote their products. There has never been a better time, as an athlete or a brand, to get started with your affiliate program.

Although affiliate marketing has been around for years, many people are still not aware of what it is and have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity. As a brand, you are using a third party (the athlete) to sell your product or drive traffic to your website. You will give this athlete some of your product and a unique URL or discount code for them to share with their followers across all their social media platforms. The athlete will create content with your product and share it with their fans while providing the code. The URL/code can be trackable so that you can track the performance of the athlete’s post and, in some cases, pay them commission off of it.

As an athlete, it is important to remember that you’re more than a salesperson, you’re partnering with that brand. While you are endorsing the product, you should be doing more than just posting once or twice on your story. You must engage with your audience, who are now your customers. The more you show your followers that you believe in this product and show how it helps you, the more interest it will create. Check out Ebony's post below:

Athlete Ebony Morrison posing for a sponsored photo with Ideal Lean.

With the Coronavirus pandemic causing a major halt in the world, brands are being forced to cut back on costs. For many brands, spending your budget on a 30-second TV commercial is not financially feasible. Instead, you can spend a fraction of that and partner with an athlete. As a brand, picking an athlete gives you more control over who views your products. Rather than spending more money on an ad that may be seen by a larger audience, you can use athletes in affiliate marketing to focus on your desired target audience. You should also consider the type of ads you are generating. When you go on a website and an ad comes up on the top banner, what are the odds you click on it and go purchase something? Even if the ad is relatable, there is a good chance you will skip over it. Now, what if your favorite fitness instructor is giving you 20% off supplements? Odds are that will drive you to the website and see what that brand has to offer. Fans trust their favorite athletes and are willing to listen to their opinions. Athletes in affiliate marketing are a good way to effectively interact with customers and let them know about your product.

 

Athletes across the world are sitting at home with more free time than they could have ever imagined. As an athlete, no matter how big of a following you have, now is the perfect time for social media to be used as another source of income. All it takes is a few posts or stories on your Instagram to become an affiliate marketer. It is important to remember a few things once you partner with a brand. First, you must create a personal connection with the brand and product you are promoting. If you believe in the product, it will be easier to sell to your followers. Second, it’s important to diversify, but don’t go crazy. Chances are the followers you have are interested in the sport you practice. If you stray too far away from your niche, it could negatively impact sales. Lastly, stay on top of trends. Things change quickly, take the substantial rise of TikTok for example. You must be able to realize when something is trending up and when it is trending down and be able to capitalize on these trends before it’s too late.

Today, merchants see about 23% of their revenue being generated from affiliate marketing. With athletes having to think of creative ways to generate income, and brands trying to cut back costs, look out for affiliate marketing to take on a larger market share. Whether you are an athlete or a brand, capitalize on this opportunity for athletes in affiliate marketing and talk to an OpenSponsorship representative today, info@opensponsorship.com.

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Athletes on TikTok

Mar 30, 2020 4:08:57 PM / by Zack Smith posted in ad, ads opportunities, how to find sponsorship, influencer marketing, influencers, LeBron James, marketing, marketing ideas, marketing opportunities, marketing strategy, marketing tools, NBA, open sponsorship, OpenSponsorship, shaquille o'neal, social media, social media athletes, Sponsor, sponsored athletes, sponsoring athletes, sponsors, sponsorship, sponsorships, sports, sports marketing, sports marketing campaigns, sports sponsorship, sports sponsorships, sports technology for athletes, athlete endorsement, Athlete Endorsements, athlete marketing, athletes on social media, Basketball, brand deals, Brand Endorsements, brands, Endorsement, endorsements, fan engagement, National Basketball Association, trends, Tik Tok

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The Coronavirus pandemic has taken the sports world by storm, and athletes now have an unprecedented amount of time on their hands leading to an increase in the number of athletes on TikTok. Some are taking on new hobbies -see Giannis Antetokounmpo learning the guitar and Cody Zeller learning to cook and play the guitar (well, trying to). Some are doing their best to stay in shape at home- nice setup, Serge Ibaka! But most of all, athletes are more active and engaging on social media than ever before. The most interesting takeaway from this uptick in social media activity has been the increase in athletes on TikTok.

If you’re not familiar by now, TikTok is a social media platform where users can post short videos of just about anything they want- dancing, comedy, music, tricks, or one of the countless “challenges” that go viral on the platform. TikTok began to take off in 2019 has over 500 million active users, making it a great place for influencers, like athletes, to build their brand and engage with their audience.

The sports world began to take notice long ago, with teams, leagues, broadcast networks, and even team mascots creating accounts and regularly posting content, ranging from highlights, messages from players, and just normal funny clips. The NBA even invited TikTok stars Addison Rae, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, Chase Hudson, and Jalaiah to 2020 All-Star Weekend. The former three made videos with several NBA stars, including OpenSponsorship athletes Nikola Jokic and Pascal Siakam, and even helped out Aaron Gordon with this Dunk Contest dunk! And now, with athletes home and quarantining, they have had the time to join in on the fun themselves, and we love seeing athletes on TikTok.

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle was one of the first- “the only logical thing for me to do at this point is to start making TikToks!” He has been regularly posting content, even taking the time one day to interact with a fan who was hoping an NBA player would notice his post. Star Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant joined in too, making a fake player introduction to help cope with him missing basketball. Young Thunder stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley teamed up in a different way than usual to perform one of the hundreds of viral dances that become popular on TikTok.

But it’s not just the young guys having fun on TikTok, even the world champ athletes are on TikTok! LeBron James and his family enjoy the platform, where LeBron’s son Bronny posted a video of the family dancing that LeBron later re-posted on his Instagram story. Retired athletes on TikTok include NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal who is a regular on the platform and collaborated with Forto Coffee to create a fun and energized post promoting their coffee shots that received over 310 thousand impressions and nearly 19 thousand engagements.

TikTok is the hottest social media platform in the world right now and athletes on TikTok prove that the sports world is taking notice. These posts garner massive amounts of impressions and engagement from fans and partnering with athletes on TikTok is the perfect way for brands to connect with these audiences. Talk to an OpenSponsorship rep today to take advantage of this opportunity, or send us an email info@opensponsorship.com

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New sports technology: 4 of our favorites

Jul 11, 2017 10:33:18 AM / by Arsène Rasoamanana posted in AfterDark Technologies, american football, Influencer, influencer marketing, marketing ideas, Mobile Virtual Player, MVP, rugby, skiing, snowboarding, sponsoring athletes, sponsorship, sports, sports innovation, sports marketing, sports marketing campaigns, sports sponsorship, sports technology, sports technology for athletes, sporttechie, surfing, Uncategorized, athlete influencer, Brand Endorsements, CTRL Eyewear, cycling, FlyPro drones

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New sports technology

Most aspects of our lives are now linked to the internet and electronics. Food delivery, social networks, shopping, entertainment, communication.. You name it. Sports are no exception to the rule. In fact, new sports technology might just be one of the most dynamic market as possibilities are pushed further everyday by both developers and athletes.

Our OpenSponsorship team is made of athletes as well as huge sports fans. Which is one of the reasons we love those new sports technology products so much. These products make athletes safer, help them reach their peak and improve competitiveness levels in every sports. We love being the connecting point between these great products/brands and our awesome OpenSponsorship athletes!

SportTechie has been an invaluable source of information for this article.

4 brands caught our eye through their amazing new sports technology:
I/ AfterDark Technologies: LED jerseys and ball for flag football

 

New sports technology, LED flag football Jersey and ball by AfterDarkTechnologies LED Flag football jersey and ball by AfterDarkTechnologies

 

These awesome jerseys and balls are definitely going to revolutionize flag football. Indeed, these kits will allow us to enjoy our favorite sport at any time of the day. No more cancelling a game because of the hour! Not only do these amazing kits let you play in the dark, these also include some useful features such as alternating colors on the QB's jersey, representing the rush count down. Also, its optic fiber flags to never miss your "tackle"!

Our idea for a campaign is to have a major league player from the NFL, NBA or NHL, to take a video playing some flag football with their friends, family, teammates or have kids play at one of their football camps! The NFL player could be Michael Vick who is now playing in the AFFL: American Flag Football League or Eric Berry (ballhawk safety and 2016 all-pro). Another idea could be finding an athlete from a Niche sport like Rowing, Skiing or Triathlon, who loves football, to test the product out, thus showing the appeal of the fastest growing sport to athletes (in college) to all.

II/ Mobile Virtual Player (MVP)

 

New sports technology: MVP (Mobile Virtual Player) Mobile Virtual Player Drive

 

The MVP is the future of american football and rugby training. Dummies have been used for decades in contact sports training as it reduces unnecessary injuries during practice. However, a moving target makes training more realistic, thus prepares athletes better to in-game action. This is one of the reasons MVP has been developed! The MVP also has been tested for tactical training: now preparing shooters better than ever! Our idea for MVP is to make a campaign is to have a player with a reputation for his tackling such as Clay Matthews (NFL linebacker) or Fulgence Ouedraogo (Flanker, France national team 7s and Union), record and post a 30 seconds video trying the dummy out in different game like settings.

III/ CTRL Eyewear: Tint changing glasses 

 

New sports technology: CTRL Eyewear, Tint changing glasses CTRL Eyewear's tint changing glasses

 

Vision is key to any sport, it is even more important for activities during which you are highly exposed to environment changes and sunlight such as cycling. CTRL Eyewear released a pair of glasses changing tint within 0.1sec depending on your environment's light. Finally, people are safer during situations such as: being exposed suddenly to very bright light. Or on the contrary, riding through a dark zone right after having the sun in your face.

Our idea for a campaign is for a skier/snowboarder or a cyclist such as Travis Rice or Cam Zink to record a close angle video while riding down a mountain to show how quickly and accurately the glasses change tint (from the sunny top to a dark valley for example).

IV/ FlyPro Drones

 

New sports technology: FlyPro's XEagle Sport, smartwatch controlled drone New sports technology :Fly Pro's XEagle Sport smartwatch controlled drone

 

FlyPro revolutionizes the drone industry for athletes and sports enthusiasts with its smartwatch controlled drones. No more worrying about your filming: just focus on your activity! This is like having a photographer following you around. It makes it easier than ever to record your best feats no matter where you are and if you are alone! This helps you keeping your followers up to date and content going at all times.
Our idea for a campaign is to have one or more snow or water sports athletes such as Gus Kenworthy or Kelia Moniz taking the drone for a ride and post curated highlights of it on their social media!

If you are a brand sign up for free here to access our roster of 2600+ athletes, teams and events.

If you are an athlete then sign up for a free account here and start applying to some of the awesome campaigns posted by our brands 

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