U.S. 800 meter champion Nick Symmonds is taking on governing bodies USATF and the IAAF, saying they are crippling the sport. Symmonds wants to bring in more sponsors to the sport of track and field, but he feels the current logo regulations that are in place are preventing that.
"It's unfair and I think the free market system would allow some of these injustices to be worked out and allow athletes to pursue alternate sources of income," Symmonds told KVAL Sports.
As it stands right now, the IAAF and USA Track and Field allow just two sponsorship logos to appear on athletes clothing at any competition site governed by either of the two organizations. Symmonds wants that changed in order to grow the sport and he thinks he has a solution.
"I propose four to six inches of skin be allowed to market to corporate sponsors and perhaps four to six inches on the back of a jersey," said Symmonds. "The backs of jerseys have no corporate sponsors right now and that's prime real estate for advertising."
Symmonds contends that the current rules are crippling track and field because they limit how many sponsors an athlete can have. That means less money in the pockets of the athletes.
"There's thousands of companies out there that would love an opportunity to advertise in track and field," said Symmonds. "But as it now they're not able to because they're not a clothing manufacturing company and they're not allowed to have their corporate image displayed anywhere on an athlete during competition."
"It's not just the USATF and the athletes," said USATF spokesperson Jill Geer. "The apparel companies are very much a part of it also. Until you get everyone in the room at the same time talking to each other, there are an infinite number of possibilities for ways to work with each other and hopefully a couple of those can stick."
That could happen in early December when the Athletes Advisory Committee will meet with the USATF and the apparel companies to attempt to find a solution.
"If everyone approaches it with an open mind, there's no reason why we can't come up with something that works for everyone," said Geer.
"There's some athletes out there who don't land shoe deals right out of college and they need the chance to pursue their Olympic dream as well," said Symmonds. "If they're not going to land a shoe sponsorship, then they should be allowed to go to any business out there that has an interest in track and field and would like to invest dollars in the growth of the sport."
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