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Old 01-06-2011, 10:52 AM   #46
Dale F. Saran
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Westerly  RI
Posts: 559
Re: Congrats to Graham - Reebok Sponsorship

It's always entertaining to listen to the experts on this thing (Yes, Jason Ashman, I'm talking about you). I don't recall you being in on the drafts of the agreement I was in on, but good on you for "knowing" and "explaining" it's ins and outs to all of us - who actually helped negotiate and draft it. Right now, I think I hold the only execute copy (on CF's side) of it in my file cabinet.

Let the "sell out" cries come. Whatever. We've been approached by dozens of companies offering massive amounts of cash to buy up affiliates, or regions, or other aspects, and all have been politely rejected. I still have the rejection letter I was asked to edit to a multi-million dollar TV deal from a major production company a few years back. And the "wheelbarrows of cash" mantra is always funny to me. Always written by people who have exactly zero experience in business negotiations. There was no giant check handed over to CF. None. I know, I was standing there at the signing with Coach, Reebok's Chairman, and their attorneys. Didn't happen.

And just to prove how little the naysayers know, Reebok and Adidas are owned by the same parent company. THEY (as in the owners of both companies) made the decision to select the marriage for CrossFit and Reebok - not Adidas.

As to the original point of the thread - I was there when Graham signed his sponsorship deal (as in at Reebok's HQ, not in the room). Graham is a great guy and ambassador, as well as being very conscientious about trying to represent himself, CF, and now Reebok, as well.

As to how this came to be - it's quite simple (mostly). Reebok HQ had some CF'ers who were high up in the food chain. They basically brought the idea together quickly and Reebok's management clearly was enthralled by the Games. Now they're the title sponsor. I have not received any "direction" from them, nor has anyone at HQ, about how to run CF - notwithstanding Mr. Ashman's claims that it is inevitable and that you all shouldn't kid yourselves. Reebok wants to be associated with our brand - and I may not care for "toning shoes" or some of their other products - but so what? They're the first company that's really put up or shut up when it comes to sponsoring CF and elevating it and being willing to stand behind it.

What I don't get is that no one was b#itching about Under Armour and its plastic-y shirts or shoes when they became a sponsor. No one thought the sky was falling then. But now because it's "Reebok" - the world is ending. Talk about amusing. And hypocritical. But the more important point is that there is NO "perfect" sponsor, whom everyone in CF is going to like or believe "fits" what we are, but it's time to grow up a little bit and join the adults at the big table for serious conversation. Reebok has shown they are committed to elevating our sport and athletes to a level that no one else was willing to - in short, they were bold and "got" our vision - and they have gotten behind it. As far as I'm concerned, that puts them way ahead of almost every other company we've spoken with. And I always think of it this way - what's more likely to happen: CrossFit(ters) to become "Reebok-ified" or Reebok to become more "CrossFit-ified"? The Games was streamed free last year and it is not a cheap event to put on, in terms of money or man-hours for CF. It could consume the company as it grows. We needed a sponsor for it - anyone with any business sense could see that. Voila. And Reebok agreed to sponsor while letting us control every aspect of it - i.e. running the event OUR way - and went way further in terms of their commitment to CF and CF athletes. They LOVE us and they genuinely want CF to help them remake their image from the Olivia Newton John, step-aerobic image that they can't seem to shake from the 80s, into something authentic and about fitness. Read up on this company (and their origins), you might be surprised (first company to sponsor an African American - Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics). They also dig what we've done in terms of elevating and empowering women in fitness. I'm not embarrassed, ashamed, or concerned about our relationship with them at all.

End of my rant.
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