Kenyan athletes are dominant from 800metres to Marathon. The rest of the world scramble for 100m to 400m. Yet, despite this imbalance, Kenyans are left holding the short end of the sponsorship stick. You can’t blame Nike, Adidas, Visa Card, Turkish Airlines et al for dropping peanuts or nothing to our athletes. It is how they have valued themselves.
Many years ago, I was acting for a world champion. A Beer Company & Nakumatt (then biggest company in Kenya) approached him for endorsement deals. He came to me. I negotiated with both companies & we were on course to agree Kshs. 10m apiece. But as they were then going to be the biggest sports sponsorship deals for an individual, the process was understandably slow. One weekend, my client called me from Europe and very excited told me he struck the deal directly. On what terms? The Beer company gave him One Million. Nakumatt gave him vouchers of Kshs. 300,000=. To excite him, both put him on their Billboards. I cried and terminated my relationship with him.
Conor McGregor, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Naomi Osaka, Steph Curry, Tiger Woods, Ronaldo et al get annual endorsements in excess of us$30m (Kshs.3B). Nike pays some of these athletes in excess of us$10m (Kshs. 1Billion). Yet no Kenyan athlete has annual endorsement in excess of us$500,000/=). An MCA makes more money than our highest paid athlete.
What our athletes need to do is not be haughty and arrogant like the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, but neither should they be as timid as the negroes who worked in the cotton fields of segregated south of US. The need to stand up and give themselves same value as their fellow top athletes in US and Jamaica. To be excited being called Brand Ambassador or being on a Billboard is stupidity of the highest order.
Once our greatest athletes retire, and these local companies stop giving them the measly Kshs. 5m, they fall into penury, alcoholism , depression abd death. Find out where our biggest athletes of 1990’s are. A tragic tale.
We can’t force athletes to value themselves, but they should not blackmail Kenya once they stop running. We cannot insure stupidity.”