New creative goals for sport icons
According to Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO of Wasserman and LA 2028, an athlete’s story creates context and adds to what makes any elite sporting person special to sports fans. “It creates a deeper understanding of what it takes to be at the top of any sport,” he said in his opening remarks at the Changing The Game: Evolving From Athlete To Creator conference yesterday.
The seminar featured athlete, entrepreneur and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad — the first female US athlete to compete and win in a hijab — and World Cup champion footballer Abby Wambach. Both women agreed with Wasserman’s point about stories: “We are all story-driven,” she said. “The back story is what makes an athlete what they are. One of the things driving the growing popularity of women’s sports is that women generally are more willing to open up, and that is creating strong emotional connections between the athletes and the spectators.”
Successful athletes are, according to Muhammad, in a privileged position which can be leveraged for positive societal change: “I try to use my position and my platform as a voice for others,” she admitted. “It’s something I saw athletes doing when I was starting out, and it made me realise that I wanted to contribute to a better and fairer society for everyone.” Another way that athletes can help make society and the world better is by collaborating with their brand partners: “Every sporting person needs visibility, and so do brands,” Wambach observed. “But if a brand is just making products for capital gain, they’re missing an opportunity, because products that are co-developed with top sports personalities are much more interesting than ones that are not. Creating a deeper and more meaningful relationship with athletes is something that Nike has proved extremely adept at doing.”