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Struggling Economy Affecting Olympians

As we all know, Canada is gearing up to welcome back the Winter Olympic Games this coming February. Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. are set to co-host the international sporting event which – as mentioned in the Synergy Merchant Services Blog last week – should hopefully help to somewhat strengthen the Canadian economy.

While arguments can be made that the 2010 Winter Olympics will do wonders for Canada's struggling financial state in the new year, it should not go unnoticed that many athletes who are currently preparing to compete are already feeling the negative effects of the recession.

Most Olympic athletes are not professionals who are paid to play their respective sports. Many of them depend on sponsorship, in addition to their own savings, to help support their training efforts and Olympic dreams. This past February, NBC Sports reported that American bobsledder Brock Kreitzburg lost out on his Home Depot sponsorship forcing him to “find other ways to pay the rent”.

Unfortunately, Canadian Olympians know this all too well. The financial struggles faced by many of Canada's athletes helped to inspire the creation of, which is owned by the Vancouver-based Area46 Media Communications marketing group. On this site dedicated to helping our Olympic athletes, it is noted that most Olympic sponsors “focus primarily on elite athletes who compete in high visibility popular sports, and the rest are left struggling in the background”.

Therefore, one suggestion offered by the website is for small and medium sized businesses in Canada to enter into “cross promotion” agreements with local athletes. The bobsledders, speedskaters and skiiers who represent our nation could certainly make use of the sponsorship offered to them as training would become more affordable.

And, in turn, the athletes could help raise the visibility of the company by advertising and placing links on their websites, making on-air plugs and/or wearing clothing carrying the company logos. These are just a few examples of how cross-promotion may help both parties achieve greater success, in addition to helping Canada secure more medals!

Sadly, as notes, “many athletes drop out (of competition) due to financial stress”. So although the 2010 Winter Olympics Games do not kick off until February, perhaps the opportunity for the Games to strengthen the Canadian economy is already here.

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