Le Tour…and Invoking Rule XL

The summer of 2016 is a great time to be a sports fan. Perhaps the best time in history. We recently bore witness to a stunning come-from-behind win in the NBA Finals, we are in the midst of compelling drama on the soccer pitch both in the Euros and in the Copa America, and it is all leading up to the single biggest event the world has ever known – the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Yet, while all the articles and news segments and blogs are focused on these events, 200 big-legged, skinny-armed men are embarking on thousands of miles traversing the Alps and the Pyrenees on bicycles. For these guys, it is the pinnacle of their sport, the summit, if you will. It is what they’ve been training for years and years to accomplish. Many won’t even finish and only a handful has a chance to actually win.

So in our bid to be open, welcoming, and tolerant of all sports, we thought we would give them some space in our Saturday column.

The big news this year is that the organizers are adding detection devices. These highly sophisticated magnetic resonance sensors are designed to…you guessed it – check to see if there are motors in the bikes. Ummm…has that ever been an issue in a competitive bike race? These bikes weigh less than a couple of pounds – I think a motor worth its salt would be pretty obvious to any casual fan watching. The bike would be twice the size of the others!

Ok, ‘nuff said on a sport that no one cares about.

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International bodies apparently like their rules and articles. No sooner had we hears about the Brexit and Article 50 than we began to read stories about the Olympics and Rule 40.

You see, every Olympics has a few main sponsors who pay tens of millions for the right to use terms like…”the Olympics”. In the past, the International Olympic Committee had imposed a marketing blackout during the games for companies that sponsor athletes rather than the event itself.

However, rule changes earlier this year are now allowing non-event sponsors like Under Armour to sponsor individual athletes and leverage those relationships during the Olympics. So most people walk away happy. Under Armour is happy because it can now advertise and use its relationships during the Olympics. The athletes are pleased because now their relationships with their sponsors have become more valuable. Agents are happier because more valuable relationships mean higher commissions.

Who isn’t happy? Honestly, the Kazi team. The Olympics isn’t about the cult of individual personalities but the collective experience. It isn’t a series of races but an event from start to finish. Focus on a few specific athletes dents that mission.

Now, this isn’t to say that Nike should have a monopoly on the event sponsorship of the Olympics. Perhaps the IOC should allow multiple lead sponsors. But sometimes we need to take a step back, appreciate the Michael Phelps and Usain Bolts of the world but realize that they are part of the Olympics, not the other way around.

(Image credit: Tour de France, Olympics)

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