Players: Sponsorship Best Practices

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Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« on: December 13, 2008, 07:31:19 PM »


I've established this topic area specifically for players who want to learn more about how to get sponsors for themselves or their team.  Naturally, the discussions herein pertain to table soccer (foosball), but for those from other sports/games who stumble on this thread thanks to internet search engines, there may still be a few creative and/or original ideas to be explored (along with a number of common sense suggestions) that may be of use -- or may not have been tried -- in your "arena."  Participants in the thread are invited to ask questions, compare ideas, and share success stories in gaining sponsorships for local, state, national and international competition.  I myself have a lot to put out (though it may take me some time to get it all posted), so keep coming back for more info!!  

Respectfully submitted,
Larry Davis, President
United States Table Soccer Federation
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 02:52:35 PM by LarryDavis »

Re: Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2008, 03:04:04 PM »

Im not actually the one who runs our local draws twice a week but I pretty much got it off the ground with my connections and constant pushing.....We are getting two brand new tables for our bar and I would love to host a big state tourney.  The bar itself has beer distributors throwing in cash for prizes etc.  What are the initial steps to as you would say to get the ball rolling.  Do I post on this site an announcement of the tourney and initially leave the dates out and see what feedback I can get.?

Re: Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2008, 06:08:10 PM »

Let me know what state you are in...
... email your "state" and a request to be put in touch with your USTSF State Director.  This will ideally be the starting point for most foosers to get "all kinds of balls rolling" in their own state!!!

Feel free to post a msg under your state at...

You may find some resources under your state at this link...

Also vist netfoos as their "state/promoter" resources are growing!

« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 04:54:33 PM by JimWaterman »

Re: Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 10:41:47 AM »
Jim's recommendations are a start in the right direction.  There is also a great resource on the website -- on the main page click on Regional/State Directors and you'll find tons of information.  One of the best would be the letter I sent out to these directors on February 9th -- this document has a lot of great ideas for putting together a successful state championship-sized tournament (and even a few for getting both tournament and individual sponsorships).  Next check out the February 17th outline document from Kathy Brainard on our new State Championships Program.  Then I'd say bounce some ideas off Mark Winker (, who has recently agreed to serve as the National Program Director for the 2009 USTSF State Championships Program.  Once firmly scheduled, Mark can help you announce the event (to players) in all the right places. 

All this should give you ample info and ideas, but at the very beginning I'd say find out where the two tables are coming from (owned by the bar? owned by an amusement machine route operator? what amusement distributor sold the bar or operator their tables?).  What you'll want to do is to establish a real good working relationship with the table owner and then also the source distributor, as you later can leverage them as sponsors or even utilize their inventories in a deal for the additional tables needed to run a state ch.-sized tournament.  Certainly the bar owner or operator will stand to gain increased revenues from both weeknight and larger such events (with the bar owner and the liquor distributors also seeing gains in food/beverage sales, so keep those in mind for any of personal/team/event sponsors).  But read the Feb 9th document for ideas on what services or other promotional aspects you might offer to negotiate greater sponsor involvement from bar-owner to amusement machine or liquor distributors to local sporting goods and soccer related businesses and much more.  And for a tournament of state ch. size be sure to request help from your local Convention and Visitors Bureaus / Sports Authorities as far in advance as you can -- in most cases it's a marvelous and FREE resource (as described the the Feb 9 letter) that you should definitely take advantage of. 

Note: I've also repeated much of this in another forum section titled "Tournament Promoters: Sponsorship Best Practices," as the question you've asked and most of the above reply fit more closely with that section (although there's some overlap in both areas and players can certainly take a similar approach in their sponsorship quests).

Larry Davis
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 04:04:32 PM by LarryDavis »

Re: Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2009, 08:27:34 AM »
for those interested, I would further recommend reading the following...

Players/Teams (and Promoters/Events):

1. The Athlete's Guide to Sponsorship, by Jennifer Drury and Cheri Elliott. One of the only, but nonetheless very good books specifically for athletes.  Does also touch on event sponsorships, so helpful to promoters/tournament directors as well.  Highly recommended for all.

The key to ALL the above: actually doing it...


Very respectfully submitted,
Larry Davis

"Ask not what the sport of Foosball can do for you;
ask what you can do for the sport of Foosball."

Re: Players: Sponsorship Best Practices
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2010, 03:28:34 PM »

Getting back into this on a deeper level of detail, let's look at some ways that foosball players might approach sponsorship.  (Note: while these tips are specific to foosball (table soccer), there are some themes and ideas here that could apply to other sport athletes, including darts, pool, air hockey, bowling, shuffleboard, and more.)  First of all, gaining sponsorship is a whole lot less about what you want to get out of it than it is about what the potential sponsor gains from the deal.  Contrary to popular belief, there's more to it than "give me money and I'll wear your logo on my shirt."  

One part of what many types of businesses want in return for sponsorship is services in kind.  It’s in this area the players seeking individual or team league and tour sponsorships can succeed the easiest, but it may be used by tournament organizers to provide a few smaller giveaways for local tournaments as well.  And it’s how most foosball players – novice and pro alike – found sponsorships during the 1970s T.S. Million Dollar Tour.  So what do I mean by services in kind?  Well this is where you want to work with the types of businesses that might have some connection to table soccer – coin-op distributors, coin-op route operators or sports bars, home-model retailers; indoor soccer arenas, pro soccer teams, soccer specialty stores, sporting goods distributors, sporting goods stores (anyone from Sportmart to Sears), etc, etc.  

What can you offer them?  If you're a world-class, highly recognized athlete or team, it's about exposure (media/public).  But for everyone else, it's mostly its about two things, a) sales-promo demos, and/or b) product maintenance/repairs/reconditioning.  If you’re a fairly friendly, sociable kind of person, you can conduct sales demos and “beat the pro” demos everywhere from coin-op distributors’ semi-annual open houses to operators’ locations (which could vary from sports bars & billiard halls to bowling alleys, student unions, video arcades and family recreation centers) and from soccer team challenge matches to Sears sporting goods department Christmas clearance sales.  (While you’re at it, be sure to teach their staffs how to assemble tables correctly in the first place – nothing worse than walking into Dick’s Sporting Goods during a Christmas rush and all their display tables are set up facing the wrong way and there’s no silicone on the rods.)  Or you can, on behalf of distributors, teach their operators how to better maintain their tables on location to maximize revenues and/or teach them how to run leagues in their locations.  Or you can run leagues for them, or teach them to recondition their tables for longer life (or do it for them).  Or do any of these directly for the sports bars, pool halls or bowling alleys where tournaments are run.  

Another creative but usually very successful way to generate individual, team or event sponsorships is to find out where the nearest large outdoor soccer fields are and who runs them, and obtain permission to pitch a gazebo-tent and do free field-side beat the pro demos on busy days. (You don’t have to be a pro, just a good, likeable and articulate player who knows about the sport, the pro tour and some of the game’s history.) Keeping in mind that every girls, boys, or adult soccer team out on that field has sponsors, you’ll want to give away foosball stickers, key-chains, pens, buttons, autographed balls, hats, t-shirts, etc (some of which are available for such purposes from manufacturers or promoters for free or at cost, or at cost plus shipping from USTSF), and make sure everyone you play gets a chance to score at least once. (You’re not there to beat everyone 9-0; you’re there to make sure everyone that plays you has fun.)  Dress in warm-up pants and a soccer shirt and talk up the sport of foosball, the worldwide pro tour, youth competition, and of course your quest for sponsors and the potential benefits to sponsors as suggested above.  Hand out copies of current and/or recent USTSF press releases and the USTSF Foos Data Fact Sheet from the USTSF website along with a business card or something with your contact info on it, and either show or hand out copies of DVDs (to those most interested) that quickly show the sport in a highly professional light, such as the one that you can download and copy for free (Flash Player required) from: .

I like doing it with outdoor soccer, but you could probably do the same type of thing in like-minded venues such as indoor soccer arenas, bowling alleys & pool halls (where both management and customers are already league and tournament oriented), roller rinks and more.  Another possiblity: pre-game tailgait parties outside your local stadiums, especially before pro soccer games.  (Last spring some creative folks were running both foosball tournaments and demos during the pre-game tailgait parties at RFK Stadium DC United matches...) 

(Additional hint: Like you might with energy or soft drink distributors, sometimes you also can team up at such soccer fields, tailgait parties, etc. with a local radio station’s promotion, and they’ll provide the handouts…  Radio stations can also provide great give-aways as sponsors of your local and state tournaments – everything from bumper stickers to concert tickets -- especially if you offer to do “beat the pro’s” at some of their other promotions in return for their involvement.)

The general key to success in all the above is professionalism in appearance, approach, and presentation.  Be prepared with the facts, hand-outs, contact info and always follow up.  And whenever you do get sponsorships of any kind, get everything in writing so that everyone fully understands what’s expected of them.  Then follow up on all agreements with frequent communications, stats on player attendance, media coverage/exposure, etc., and send personal thank you letters (or for major sponsors, a plaque or other form of special recognition).  Be sure to do the same for your tournament hosts and any charities involved in the event.  A little thanks goes a long way towards continued/future involvement in both you as a sponsored athlete/team and in the future of the events you participate in.

Last, be professional in any/all correspondence with potential sponsors.  If you're not good at that kind of thing, have someone double check your proposals, letters, thank-you notes, etc. for grammar and structure.  Use spell check.  Don't use slang, text-message language, or words/acronyms only players of your sport would know.  Same goes if you leave messages on someone's machine -- be brief, professional, but leave details (name, reason for call) and best time/day/number to call you back.  

Hope that helps just a little…

Very respectfully submitted,
Larry "That's the difference between me" Davis
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 09:01:33 AM by LarryDavis »