I don’t know how many of you who read my blog have heard about the Rule 40 drama going on around the Olympics, but I wanted to write a little something that explains my personal stance on the issue at hand. I was nervous to take part in what felt like a Twitter revolution on Sunday evening, but in the end I wanted to support my teammates and make a bit of a stand about something that I don’t think is right. Now, I’d like to explain my two cents.
Rule 40 prevents 2012 Olympic athletes from mentioning companies other than official Olympic sponsors on social media.
If you know me, you know that that means I can’t tweet, blog, or facebook anything about the company that has supported me for three years, and feels like a family now more than ever. I completely understand that exclusivity of sponsorship deals makes them most valuable, and that that is why the IOC put these rules in place. In my opinion, that should only mean that the companies who support Olympic athletes that are not Olympic sponsors should be prohibited from using said athletes’ likenesses in their advertising during the Games. Saying that athletes themselves can’t mention their sponsors seems to me like an encroachment on my freedom of speech.
I consider the javelin to be a lesser-known Olympic sport. Sure, it’s under the umbrella of the “most-watched” Olympic sport of Track and Field, but I understand that the javelin isn’t the 100 meter dash. The Olympic javelin champion doesn’t get a title like, “World’s Fastest Man,” or, “World’s Best Athlete,” they just get a medal and a fabulous day! But talking about these rule 40 issues with teammates got me thinking about the even lesser-thought-about Olympic sports: Badminton, equestrian events, team handball, sprint kayak, archery, synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, fencing, etc. I’m sure that the equipment necessary for those sports is very specialized and expensive, and that they have sponsors that provide them with it so they can train and compete at their best. If I’m in a sport that’s mainstream, even if my event isn’t, and I’ve had a lot of help from javelin manufacturers and back brace-makers and a shoe company, who makes the shuttlecocks, stirrups, handballs, paddles, arrows, hair gel, ribbons and swords that these athletes need? And shouldn’t they be allowed to show their appreciation for such specific support?
I want to be clear. I completely understand the rule as it pertains to companies promoting themselves as being attached to the Olympics through their athletes. I believe recent articles are calling them potential “ambush marketers,” which seems harsh to me, but I can see (from a seemingly unfair business side, which is often how business is) how non-Olympic-sponsor companies could “devalue” Olympic sponsors’ messages. I do think that athletes should be able to thank whoever we please via social media, though.
I just wanted to give my perspective as an athlete in a lesser-known-event-that-requires-specific-equipment-and-help. I’ve never really been a part of something controversial, and that is not what I intend this blog post to be. I simply wanted to explain my personal thoughts surrounding what is going on, and move on. I don’t plan on talking about it any more, because I have work to do. 🙂