Most sports have a fairly clear correlation between success and marketability. The best athletes, for the most part, are also the most endorsed. For example, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have seized much of the commercial airwaves with their franchise status and MVP-worthy play, and rightfully so.
In CrossFit’s early years, I think we are seeing fertile ground for the marketability of the world’s best CrossFit athletes. However, public perception and natural athlete awareness has much less to do with an athlete’s success it seems. Some athletes with less-accomplished track records have proven to be more marketable than some of their more successful competition.
Think about the most notable CrossFit names in the sport. Sure, Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa and Chris Spealler are the most notable names in the men’s category. Kristan Clever and Annie Thorisdottir are household names in the community and seem to have the most accolades. But the marketability of these athletes isn’t created equal. Andrea Ager, for example, has yet to make it to Carson as an individual, yet she is one of the most recognized names in the game. Her image can be found on billboard-sized murals in overseas affiliates, even. Conversely, many fans know Lucas Parker, while many fewer know Marcus Hendren. Parker and his lumberjack fitness are noticeable. Without discounting Hendren’s super fitness, this observation isn’t to be ignored in the marketing of CrossFit athletes.
Many brands from within the community sponsor athletes with product, trades and exposure, but few pay cash. That is all going to change. Not only do these athletes deserve it, these brands will also need to compete for endorsement with athletes who continue to demonstrate valuable marketability. This means the Games champs won’t be the only ones signing six-figure endorsement deals.
As the CrossFit Games mature, so will the marketability of these athletes. For example, Lindsey Valenzuela is paving the way with her own clothing line from LifeAsRX apparel. Soon, fans will know the names of every Games athlete and have products with their faces on them to support their favorites with, as well.
— Logan Gelbrich