Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Skechers, leading the way?

I admit when I think of Skechers I think of those awful black shiny sneakers I had when I was 11. Ever since then I have been scarred by the embarrassment so badly, that I recoil anytime I even hear the name Skechers. Needless to say when I heard that Skechers was not only making running sneakers, but sponsoring Meb Keflezighi, my jaw nearly hit the floor. I thought Meb must be out of his mind.

And then I read this article on the WSJ website.  I was well aware that professional runners didn't make a ton of money but...

Most get by on running-shoe endorsements that are so meager that many of top U.S. track and field athletes earn less than $15,000 a year and have contracts that limit their sponsorship options and cut their income if they perform poorly.

Indulge me here for a second. That is $288.46 weekly, or $7.20 an hour, if you assume they train 40 hours a week. Even if they run 20 hours a week (approx 200 miles) they make $14.40 an hour. Factor in cross training, recovery, massages, which let's say add up to another 7-11 hours per week, which means they get paid even less (or not at all) for doing all of this essential training. 

Regardless of how the numbers break down, that figure is incredibly low. I will go out on a limb and say professional marathon runners have one of the most difficult jobs in all of professional sports. This figure from WSJ does not mention if marathon runners get paid $15k, or if it's shorter distance sprinters. Again, either way this figure is alarming. 

Steeplechaser Ben Bruce is in the U.S. top 5 in his event and has made three World Championship teams......
"I was on food stamps," said Mr. Bruce. "I was having to scrap for everything on my own while [Nike] sat by with the means to help me but chose not to."

I mean....what can you say to this? 
This graph from CalTech's Alumni website shows how disproportionate the
salaries of baseball players has been in the last few decades. 

Even if you are a mediocre baseball player, you would get $30,000 just to show up and sit on the bench. (Based on the paltry salary of $5,000,000 for 162 games)

Back to Skechers. Skechers seems like they get it. They seem to be one of the few companies treating these people like real athletes, and realize they are valuable even if they do not win first or second place wearing their product. At the very least, they realize in order for them to get big names like Meb, they need to be more flexible than other companies, but I have a feeling this will definitely change the way other companies approach endorsements. 

I don't know how runner endorsement works in other countries, but this seems like it's a great step forward for professional running in this country. The truth is people don't take professional runners as serious as they do many other sports, and maybe making it a more profitable sport will also make it more mainstream. 


  1. GREAT points. I love this!

  2. Sketchers obviously did a tremendous service to the running community by offering Meb a contract when no one else did. It was also a brillant move on their part - as a consumer, I have vastly more respect for them as a both a legitimate running brand and as a supporter of dedicated athletes in light of their sponsorship. That said, I won a pair of Sketchers GoRun and don't personally like the fit.

  3. P.S. I spelled Skechers wrong in every instance in the comment above. My apologies.

  4. THat is funny you should write this today as I was just looking at Sketchers thinking "how serious of a running shoe are they?" I love all the pretty colors they come and and Womens Running mag picked them as a best shoe. I just have a hard time believing they are a good running shoe, but hey if Meb is wearing them they can't be all bad!