Olympic champion Michael Johnson forming new league to help track and field athletes commercialize their rights

Abu Mubarik February 29, 2024
Michael Johnson. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/or Kb1367

Michael Johnson is returning to sports but in a different way. He is teaming up with Winners Alliance, a global athlete licensing and sponsorship firm, to build a fan-focused track league.

According to a report by Sportico, the move is geared towards increasing attention for track and field athletes in the U.S. beyond the Olympics. While planning to make it more accessible to fans, the firm wants to leverage entertainment platforms to promote them on a wider scale.

“I love this sport and owe everything I have to this sport,” expressed Johnson. “It’s been a shame for me to watch it over the last couple decades since I retired not be able to continue to provide the same amazing moments to people, outside of just the Olympics.”

Johnson, who is known for the world records he set in the 200-meter and 400-meter events in the 1990s, added, “The track has been such a big part of my life and I’m in a position to help this sport get back to where it should be.”

Although track and field has a large following particularly during the Olympics, World Athletic Championship and other similar events, the sport has largely declined in the U.S. due to several factors like lack of TV distribution, dearth of world-class facilities for hosting major events and uneven marketing of individual stars, Sportico noted.

“That’s unfortunate, since over 3 billion people are watching the sport once a year during those major championships and have an expressed interest to continue watching the sport if there was a place to do so,” Johnson said. “So I see it as a real opportunity from that perspective.”

For the upcoming track league, Johnson and Winners Alliance will create a platform for track and field athletes to be able to commercialize their rights. According to Winners Alliance President Eric Winston, the NBA has made a push to put their athletes at the front.

In this regard, Winners Alliance has reportedly invested seven figures, making it the “single largest investment in track and field history.” Also, Johnson, a longtime pundit on the BBC, and other stakeholders have begun talks with potential media partners, sponsors and prospective investors.

“I don’t think anyone [until now] has tried to show the essence of the sport and really put the athletes front and center,” he said. “It’s not just track; athletes are the main event. The NBA has made a push to put their athletes front and center and even the NFL, which was always a team-driven league, has done so as well.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 29, 2024


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