Home Depot announced today that they were ending their sponsorship of the US Olympic Team (coverage here). The program, which had existed for 16 years, gave Olympic athletes part-time jobs and flexible hours along with full-time pay and benefits to help support their training. All told, Home Depot has employed more than 600 athletes who have won 145 medals.
Now, dozens of athletes are left without the financial support (or flexibility) they need to train and compete at Olympic levels. With just a year before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, this is a serious issue. Instead of focusing on their training, these athletes must spend their time looking for new sponsors — no small challenge given the tough economic times. And if they can’t find new sponsorship, some of the athletes may have to stop their training and give up their Olympic dreams.
We can’t let that happen. We should help.
By ‘we’ I mean the online community.
By ‘help’, I mean sponsor these athletes.
Its a pretty simple concept – we should crowdfund them. Crowdfunding is just a fancy word for pooling our money in support of some collective interest. Some examples:
MyFootballClub signed up 50,000 people willing to pay a small membership fee to buy and manage a football (soccer) team with a crowd of other dedicated fans. Last year they announced that they’ve agreed to buy a controlling stake in Ebbsfleet United FC, a member of the English Premiere League, with the option to buy the the remaining share in the future.
Spot.us, which allows freelance journalists to pitch story ideas and get funding from the public in the San Franciso Bay Area, is just one of several efforts to support journalism through crowdfunding.
A Swarm of Angels is an example of attempts to crowdfund the creation of a motion picture.
It could work for Olympic athletes as well. I would pay to sponsor a bobsled or curlingteam, give a luger or ski jumper the chance to battle for gold. Wouldn’t you?
I’m in if you are, let me know.