Jessica Winkler

Owner, Kite Beach Yucatan

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How come Pro athletes receive such little support & funding?

Everyone enjoys going to a football game, watching tennis on tv or playing sport video games. Sport is primary basis of our culture so why do athletes struggle so much? I am currently one of the small handfull of women kiteboarders in the world and has a once in a life time opportunity to rank top 9 in the world for speed. I'm about to be the only ranked canadian women setting the record for the country and have been invited to the World Kite Speed Championships in France this July. So far i've funded everything myself but can't afford the flight. How is it that such a small thing can hold a person back from achieving the most important in their life? I'm constantly struggling to understand why its so hard to achieve this.

  • Jun 6 2012: I was a little confused by your question because most pro athletes I hear about are ridiculously overpaid for entertaining us, while so many other more important societal roles are underfunded. Daycare operators for example. Which isn't to say I don't empathize with you. Kite boarding is an awesome sport! Perhaps it is a question of how the total dollars put into sports are spread around.
    My advice is to ask airlines to give you a ticket, and offer to promote their company. You might be surprised. For a $3,000 value (and you will probably just be filling an empty seat on a plane going there anyway) they have the potential to get some pretty decent exposure at a World Championship.
    I can guarantee that if you don't ask, you won't get it!
    Best of luck.
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      Jun 7 2012: Thank you Mike you have a very good point. When I wrote this i wasn't thinking of overpaid team sports like Baseball ect. Your suggestion is a good one and i am going to mention it to my agent today :)
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    Jun 7 2012: Hi Jessica, Nice to talk to you again. Yours is not a main line sport and that causes a problem. I hate to approach the subject from this angle but Mike and Adam are right. You are going to have to sell yourself. From your photo you appear to be young and attractive .... that would sell sun screen, kite board manufactures, sail makers, helmet makers, sun glasses, hair protection, swim suits, wet suits, gloves, shoes, board wax, and the list goes on. As was said below airlines will write off your fare for a ad that says you always travel with them, local travel agents, etc ... Don't forget a hotel chain for free rooms in exchange for "I always stay here".

    Incorporate yourself. Make this a business as well as a competative sport. After you incorporate you can afford to hire a agent to do all of this for you and as a limited licenced corporation all the bills are through the agency. If it fails you are protected by the LLC laws.

    Hope to read about you in the finals. All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 7 2012: Thank you Rob,

      I'm not that young but thanks for the compliment ;). I actually do have an agent & have been working on selling myself over the past 1 1/2 years. I finally got a kite sponsor but I still have to purchase the equipment. I have a bunch of smaller sponsors but they do not offer free product, everything is at a discount. Trying to break into the general sport market as a extreme sports female is extremely difficult and so far no one is willing to invest. It's a bit frustrating. I will continue to work at it but this opportunity is close to slipping through my finger tips & it's sad.
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        Jun 16 2012: Maybe it's time to consider getting a new agent. Just saying.
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          Jun 16 2012: I just fired my agent 3 days ago. Yesterday I got a full sponsorship by a clothing company & my kite sponsor agreed to pay for my travel expenses to compete in France...... good start
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    Jun 6 2012: I think this is why you see so many athletes wearing sponsorship jackets, helmets, and gear. If you are having trouble receiving funds have you tried to get a sponsorship? You seem like a perfect candidate for Red Bull. In fact there are some companies that have quite a lot of revenue to spend on advertising, they are willing to spend this money if it builds the brand and portrays well.

    If I were in your shoes I would start making videos of yourself. Think of it as a small investment. Here are a few videos of sponsorship done right:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2oy7b4SFgE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGrjMpI7nPg

    Since Kiteboarding is a big air sport I'm confident you could make some pretty awesome videos.
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      Jun 7 2012: Thank you for your comment Adam :) I do have sponsors yes & I do get equipment for either very inexpensive. I've been working very hard over the past 1 1/2 years to get various media coverage & have been doing well. The biggest hurdle I am facing is being a girl in an extreme sport. No one is willing to invest quite yet..........
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    Jul 5 2012: Often our compassion is reserved for the weak of our societies and there are so many in need. i think athletes are seen as strong and thus able to help themselves. Maybe?
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    Jun 16 2012: Have you done any research on Kickstarter? There may be a way to generate some funding for your competition through that channel.
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    Jun 16 2012: I think the question you need to ask is: Why should we pay you? All I mean is, the athletes who get paid a lot are doing something that lots of people will pay for tickets to go see, or subscribe to pay-per-view to watch play-offs, and so on. Is kiteboarding televised much? Are there enough people doing it that they would wish they were as good as you? If you can figure out key issues like that, the money will come. Just look at what a ridicuously hard time sports like women's basketball have had solving exactly those questions.