gimme your money, because i deserve it

i’m sure everyone in the pool community has heard about seminole tribe’s decision to cancel the seminole pro tour a while back.  while the decision is not too surprising, it did lead me to think about the question of sponsorship.  thus far, pool’s sponsorship record has not been good.  we blew the liquor money (gordon’s gin), tobacco money (camel), and now casino money.  if we manage to land drug money, we may blow that too.

i know nothing about the pool business or sponsorships, so i did a very casual google search.  after wading through a number of posts and articles, there seem to be some common themes to getting a sponsorship.  i’m being redundant here since those with an MBA or a business degree could probably cite the requirements for sponsorship chapter and verse, but i found it interesting nonetheless.  so basically, a company/corporation will sponsor a project because a) they have to, or b) they want to.  (again, i’m discussing the US sponsorships only.  i’m not familiar with european or asian sponsorships, so i won’t discuss them.  feel free to write a post if you are well acquainted with asian or european pool affairs.)

the “have to” part is done so the various lawyers or organizations would stay off a company’s back.  you can get fancy and label it “community reinvestment” or “social responsibility” programs, but basically a company will sponsor a project so they can head off the lawsuits by “community activists,” “watchdogs,” or if you’re less charitable, shakedown artists/blackmailers in suits.  by doing so, a company hopes to avoid lawsuits (or worse, media coverage) involving gender/racial/environmental/religious/political issues that are potentially harmful to the business.  since sponsoring pool tournaments probably won’t help a company look socially responsible, we’ll look at the “want to” category of sponsorships.

a company, just like any individual person, is in business to make a profit.  giving away money is a big no-no for any business person or entity who wants to remain profitable.  if a company does give away money, it is done in the hopes of making a profit down the line.  pool tournament sponsorship falls in this category.  based on my very casual search, in order to get a company to part with its hard-earned cash, the potential beneficiary needs to present a plan that will offer something in return.  the “something” seems to fall into two general categories.

1. profit down the line
a good potential beneficiary will present a business plan that will make money for the sponsor in the future, in exchange for sponsorship money today.  (i’ll gladly pay you tuesday, for a hamburger today . . . )  good hard numbers never fail to impress, and a formal business plan shows the sponsor that you mean business.  if you don’t look like a leech, people tend to take you more seriously.

2. other types of valuables
if you can’t offer hard profit down the line, then you have to provide other valuables that would equal to the cash the sponsor is spending on you, like media exposure or free advertising.  a few hundred live-stream views will not do it, especially if the company already has a recognizable brand.  displaying a bunch of banners ain’t gonna cut it either.  pepsi will hardly be impressed if you can reach five hundred people in an event, when in most likelihood these very same people already know who pepsico is.

to me, pool seems to fall under the “something for nothing” category.  i just don’t think pool can offer future profits or benefits for the sponsorship money at this point.  what does coca-cola stand to gain in pool, when they can make 30 times more money with NFL, NBA, MLB, and a host of other sports and entertainment businesses?  a NASCAR event can attract 100,000+ attendees.  we don’t have anything close to that number.

i propose we don’t use lines like “for the love of the game” or “help a player reach his/her potential” anymore.  that might work if an individual player finds a very wealthy patron who is willing to gamble with his/her money like a whale in a casino, but it’s hardly a long-term plan for pool to become financially independent.  instead, we should focus on what we can offer to potential sponsors and come up with a mutually beneficial plan.  better yet, become independent from sponsors.

in other news, apple now allows you to delete individual photos in iCloud, making the experience much less aggravating.  thanks apple!  however, you can’t reload pictures to iCloud without jumping through a lot of hoops.  so maybe apple will include that feature in the next iOS release.

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