• PickStar

How do Elite Athletes Weigh Up Commercial Opportunities?

Want to book a sports star? Whether it’s an event, appearance or marketing opportunity, it’s not just about the money says PickStar founder James Begley.

Many brands, charities, associations, sports clubs and schools are eager to tap into the influence of a sports star.

Whether it’s an inspirational speech, leadership workshop, marketing campaign or fundraising initiative, elite athletes are sought-after for their unique experiences, insights, stories and, of course, the “pulling power” of their personal brand.

Many people, from experienced marketers through to school coordinators, believe the deal comes down to money – that an elite athlete has a “market rate” set in stone.

But it is only one of four factors in an athlete’s decision-making process.

Generally speaking, if two of the four boxes below are ticked, you’re in with a chance to book your preferred elite athlete.

1. Location

The location of an opportunity is important because it has a significant impact on the time commitment required by the athlete. While the athlete may only be needed at the event for an hour, the travel required to get to and from the event location must also be considered.

In some larger Australian cities, a two-hour round trip can be standard. And when most athletes are also juggling training, club and family commitments on any given day, you can see how location becomes a decisive factor.

This is understood by many rural event organisers, who will often factor in or create a separate budget for the athlete's travel and accommodation costs.

Alternatively, in our experience at PickStar we have seen many athletes, who most would expect to be high budget, accept moderate payment because the event was nearby and convenient.

2. Availability

It’s obvious – if the athlete is free the opportunity will be considered.

Athlete schedules can be a challenge, which is why we designed the PickStar marketplace to enable clients to express interest in multiple athletes, and for athletes to apply for the opportunities they are available for.

Most sporting codes, with the support of players associations, also ensure that athletes get adequate free time to pursue business and education opportunities.

Western Bulldogs premiership player Josh Dunkley signs autographs at McDonald's McHappy Day

3. Passion

Passion is the most underrated factor in a sports star’s decision-making process.

Professional athletes will forgo typical budget benchmarks if they are genuinely passionate or connected to the brand, cause or event purpose.

We’ve seen a high profile athlete accept a request for a nominal payment because the client was a charity taking on a social cause they were passionate about.

While another wine loving sports star accepted a commercial opportunity from a small winery because they had a passion for the product!

Alternatively athletes are sometimes asked to get involved in activities that they are not passionate about (for example, some people don’t like public speaking and athletes are no different!). This will also impact decision-making.

4. Budget

When setting a budget, consider the athlete’s public profile and influence. Are they one of the best players in their league? Do they have a strong social media following? Are they already sought-after by major brands and media? Generally (but not always) the higher the profile of the athlete, the bigger the budget expectations.

However, it may surprise some, but elite athletes are available for all budgets and needs.

It is important to define you maximum budget and, instead of focusing on trying to book just one sports star, we recommend you build a shortlist of athletes. This will save a lot of time and ensure that you have plenty of options.

Athlete earnings in context

It may seem that athletes are living the high life earning big bucks, but it’s an important to remember that an elite sporting career is only short for most.

A lot is sacrificed by athletes to get where they are, and their time at the top can come to an end quickly.

For this reason, most sports stars are more than happy to weigh up commercial offers, not just for the financial benefit but for the opportunity to network and develop their skills outside of sport.


PickStar gives you the chance to put your opportunity in front of over 900 sports stars.

We’ve facilitated over 1000 deals so far, from small schools and clubs through to large brands.

It takes just three easy steps, and PickStar works with all budgets and clients in all locations. Find out more.

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