Get it in writing.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember." - Confucius.

Whether you are negotiating a product deal or there is financial remuneration involved it is always recommended to have it all in writing! A contract may seem like a daunting document but it need not be. It really is to just outline the agreed upon expectations of the athlete and the brand over a specified period of time. The main purpose of a contract between an athlete and a brand is to formalize a new relationship and outline the various legal obligations each party owes to the other. It can be as basic as one or two pages in point form to be clear and precise. Obviously as there becomes more at play especially when money is involved, so the contract may get a bit more complex to include clauses around misconduct and protecting both parties. Basically, contracts are relationships. Two parties agree to work together and establish a relationship that if fostered well and benefits both sides, can last years. A contract is the visual representation of that relationship.

A contract protects an athlete but at the same time holds them to a standard expected by the brand. If either party has any doubts they should be raised, negotiated, agreed upon and amended in the contract before it is signed. Both parties must sign the contract only once they are 100% happy with all the terms and both parties must hold a copy of the contract. Contracts are an extension of a company brand, and sending out a contract is a symbol that a company cares about having a detailed record of a relationship that they are making a commitment to. The wording as well as negotiations gives each party an idea of how the other functions.

Expectations of the brand must be clearly stated(examples only, not limited to):
• Number of posts on social media and how the brand wants to be tagged or hashtags to use.
• If it is a results orientated agreement, state which events matter most.

• Certain number of appearances required at functions for the brand to showcase you as an ambassador and further promote their offering.
• If/how/when feedback is required on products, also with event reports and status updates on how the year is going and plans moving forward.
• Number of pieces of content for marketing purposes and in what format they would like it delivered.
• How the brand expects the athlete to conduct themselves as an ambassador.
• How the brand wants its products showcased online and in person.

Remuneration to the athlete must also be clearly laid out(examples only, not limited to):
• What/how much product the athlete will receive throughout the year.
• When the athlete can expect to receive above mentioned product – could be a product drop every few months or a credit for the athlete to use at their discretion.
• Is there a content creation or travel budget involved and how to claim for it.
• Should the athlete reach pre-determined goals there may be an incentive structure: getting a podium at a National or International event, receiving a certain amount of engagement or growth online – not every contract has incentives but if so they must be listed: what is the goal and what is the incentive for reaching that goal.

As already mentioned, contracts don’t have to be a long, drawn out and complicatedly worded. Short and precise will do but it is very necessary to avoid any unpleasantness – unfortunately sometimes a “handshake” is just not enough and leads to unpleasant circumstances of “he said, she said” and in many cases it is often the athlete who will lose out by getting pushed into the “take it or leave it” scenario. The chance of the parties being able to resolve a dispute and being able to maintain the relationship is significantly increased if the contract contains a clear process for escalating and dealing with issues as they arise.

Should there ever be a dispute, the contract is there to be referred to and factually solve the issue. It is at this point you would hope the “in the wrong” party can admit their mistake and that it is not a major issue which could be rectified. In some more serious cases especially around financial gain and misconduct contracts can be terminated with immediate effect and even damages claimed for. When a party to an agreement breaks the contract, the written agreement will be used as a general reference on what the parties have agreed and determine who is really at fault. Having a readily available written contract reduces the chances of bringing the issue to litigation proceedings or even dragging litigation more than it may be necessary, which could be very costly and time-consuming.

We hope what we have shared will help you on your sporting career journey. We are going to continue sharing knowledge from our own experiences as well as those of industry member and both past and present athletes to try assist you in your career.

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