Believe it or not, that was the opening line of a request for sponsorship I got a couple of years ago. The rest of it went something like this:
"Sponsor me cause I rule and Haro sucks. All my friends ride Kona's, so Haro needs my help. Write back." (and this was followed by his name, phone number, and e-mail address)
I'm hoping that this request was some sort of a joke written by a kid who got a big kick out of himself for sending in such a smartass request. However, there's also the chance that whoever wrote it was dead serious. You would seriously be surprised at some of the requests that come across my desk at work.
I have to admit that many are very nice and professional. But I also have to admit that the vast majority of these folks expect the moon. The sense of entitlement many racers have these days is nauseating. Damn, you're the reigning sport class US National Champion and you need a free bike because you tell me the exposure I'll get through your results will help sell bikes? OK, I'll get right on that. Need your expenses paid too? OK, here's a blank check...
My friend Eric up in WA sent me a link to a fantastic article on Bicycling's website written by Soulcraft Bicycles owner, Sean Walling. I highly recommend that you click here to read it; you will either get a kick out of it or an education. Personally, I got a HUGE kick out of it because it really could have been penned (or typed...nobody writes anymore!) by my own hand. Somebody FINALLY had the cajones to just come right out and and say it!
One of the main reasons we stopped supporting a big factory pro team is the fact that (in our opinion) very few bikes are sold as a result of a team's or rider's presence at races. For the most part, the only people who pay attention to who wins what race and what bike they are riding are other racers. And I can't think of too many serious racers who are willing to walk into their local bike shop and buy their bikes and parts at full-pop retail based on wanting to ride what their favorite racer rides on. Most want it free or at a deep discount. Some aren't even happy with that. "Oh, you mean you can't pay my entry fees and give me team kits, too?". I have actually had people turn down an offer for a free or discounted bike because I couldn't offer them cash for entries and expenses...and the sad thing is these ingrates weren't pros or even semi-pros. The pros and semi's have class...it's the amateurs who have the worst sense of entitlement.
What many of these folks don't realize is that the state of mountain bike racing is hurting. There's only about 5 pro mountain bike racers on the circuit who are earning a 6-figure salary from racing their bikes. The rest struggle. Many (and this is especially true of some in the women's pro field), are happy to get bikes and expenses...if they are lucky, they might have a bonus program in place with their sponsors. A couple of years ago, I had one of the circuit's top female DH racers approach me (who will remain nameless) for sponsorship after her team cut her; at that point, she was just about willing to ride for bikes and expenses. It's that bleak out there. I would have loved to have accomodated her, but lucky for her, she did manage to secure a spot on a team who was willing to pay her a salary.
I'm sure I'm going to ruffle a few feathers out there, but I think there are some feathers that need it. My goal (beyond just plain bitching) is to just put it all into perspective for a few racer-types out there who feel entitled to free product just because they race. Sure, if we give you free product you'll go tell all your other racer friends how great it is...and then chances are, they too will go straight to the source for the "hook up" instead of buying it at their local shop.
As cheesy as this will sound, if all you amatuer racers want to be more successful at securing sponsorship for yourself, borrow (and modify) a line from JFK...and that's to "ask not what your sponsor can do for you, ask what you can do for your sponsor". Show us what value you bring to the table. Show us how you reach out to your community. Show us your advocacy efforts. Show us you are passionate about cycling and approachable. Show us you want to be an equal partner in our marketing efforts and aren't just looking for a handout. Sometimes you receive more by asking for less.
And for God's sake...don't begin your request for sponsorship "Hey....bitches!".